62nd recipient of livelihood bicycle: ‘Both we brothers felt ashamed and useless! We were two adults who could not find our own Mother!”
Milkman and driver. (Milkman from 5 am to 9 am; Private car Driver from 11 am to night)
Vijay was born in a village near Pune, and was brought up in Mumbai also. His parents were vegetable sellers, they would sell veggies from house to house in Bandra’s Pali Hill area for many years.
They still have a family house in their village near Pune, and they reside in Khar East. He has an older brother who works at an office in Munbai.
Vijay has studied till the 8th Std. When he was in school, in the 8th, an earth-digging tool accidentally pierced his head from the back. He was critically injured. It happened when he was removing earth from the land and dumping it afar, as there was construction going on in the school compound, a new foundation was being laid for building a new building for their school. He received stitches and recovered, but somehow he could not study thereafter.
Soon he left school to earn a living along with his parents who sold vegetables in Mumbai. He lamented, ‘I wish I had had been more careful then, I wish I had paid more attention then, I would not have got injured. We did not lack money as my parents sold vegetables, but I just could not study any further after that accident.’
It made me wonder, maybe that accident at school changed the course of Vijay’s life permanently! Maybe the head injury affected his attention span or whatever other damage it must have caused (I am not a doctor, so I am just guessing ya). But had he continued his studies he would have been more than a milkman and driver today for sure, I thought.
After Vijay left his studies, he became a motor mechanic in Bandra, near Perry road. But he did not like that profession, and soon left it to sell vegetables like his parents. He would ferry them on a tube cycle. But that too did not suit his needs, as his father grew old and a bit unwell so they (his bro and he) needed to now look after their father. So he decided to deliver milk and also become a drive by day. He believed this combination would sustain him in the expensive metropolis of Mumbai.
I thought, he was right, because it did!’
What I liked about him was, he told his father to retire from selling vegetables because his father was suffering from some medical condition because of which both his legs had got swollen and it was very difficult for him to walk and carry the heavy baskets of veggies house to house.
Around 10 years ago he and his brother decided to become the breadwinners for their family, because they had grown up and would be able to provide for their father.
He told me, “When I think of the hard times my parents had faced to support us, tears come to my eyes.’
He continued, ‘Even today life for us is like digging a well daily for the water we need. The day we do not work we do not earn money. It’s hard to make ends meet today. My wife is 8th std pass, but she does not work because she needs to be home to look after the children because they are young.’
His best customers are a few people who do not reject/return the milk packets when the they get a bit damaged during delivery, or even if the milk is leaking just a bit, they accept it in those conditions too
Because, the commission he earns is so little that even if one milk packet gets damaged and rejected for no fault of his, he loses the commission equivalent to an entire tray of milk!
God Bless those customers, I thought, who are willing to forgive these humble people their minor errors.
Vijay’s saddest period ever was when his mother went missing for nearly 15 days. She left Mumbai to visit her village near Pune, but never reached there.
While en route to her village, suddenly she decided to return to Mumbai and got off the the train, and crossed the platform to take the train going back to Mumbai. That’s when she was knocked down by the wind-thrust from a passing fast-train, while crossing from one platform to another. She fell to the ground and a rock or stone hit her head and she was grievously injured.
Her family looked for her at every station between Mumbai and Pune. They even searched for her at Temples and relatives homes but found her only at a hospital between Badlapur and Kalyan in a critical condition!. She succumbed to her injuries.
He said, “All that time we looked for her, both we brothers felt ashamed and useless being two adults who could not find our own Mother!”
I asked him which has been his happiest moment, he replied ‘When my children were born, first my daughter and then son. Both go to school. When my children were born, I wished my Mother was alive. Because she loved me the most and would have wanted to see me happy. She had always wanted me to settle in our village, not in Mumbai.’
Thank you to Ashish Sajnani for buying Vijay a new bicycle. Vijay agreed to bear a minor part of the cost of the bike as his own contribution to this donation by Ashish, the exchange of his old bike for a new one.
Vijay’s old bicycle we will donate to some needy person who needs one for his livelihood. I have in mind to donate it to a Samosa seller I happened to come across near Almeida park one day.
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service. Thanks to Gazi Ali for the pic.