64th recipient of livelihood bicycle: ‘….. I can immediately put him on a bicycle and quickly take him to a doctor or to a hospital.’
Bablu Prajapati. (28)
Profession – Helper. (Assistant to Carpenters and Masons)
Bablu is from UP, and currently lives at Nalasopara, near Virar. He has been living in Mumbai since 10 years. He said ‘I came to Bambai to become something great, a good kaarigar (carpenter), however I could not make it. But I am still trying.’
Bablu is educated till the 5th Std. He could not study any further because his family could not afford it. He has a family of two brothers and his father, they live in the village. His mother has passed away.
His father travels on a bicycle from village to village selling firewood, vegetables, fruits, depending on the seasonal needs of the villagers. They have a house and some land in their village, but the cultivation they do on that land was and is not enough to feed their family.
His own family living in Mumbai consists of two children and his wife. He hopes when their two sons, (3 years and 8 months), grow bigger, then his wife will do some work and earn a living too, because she is more educated than him and has learnt tailoring too. He wants to admit his elder son in school next year.
Bablu does not have work all days of the month, as he is a daily wages worker, and gets paid only on days his contractor asks him to report to a work site, whether it’s to be an assistant (helper) to a carpenter or to a mason. The days he does not have work, he visits all kinds of construction sites to find any kind of ‘Helper’ work.
Bablu said his most challenging period ever was last year when his elder son was unwell for nearly a year. He spent a lot of money on his medical care and he did not even have regular work in that period.
He said ‘Bahut, bole toh bahut takleef jhela humne tab, bahut takleef… I suffered and survived a lot, a lot, a lot of problems/difficulties during my child’s illness. And now that he is well I feel my worst period is over.’ (He gave me a weak smile.)
I pondered on all what Bablu had said – He could not study, the land they own in the village could not feed them, he has still not found regular work, nor has he been able to achieve the purpose for which he came to Mumbai – to become a carpenter, and he has always lived an impoverished life since childhood; yet, it’s his child suffering (bad health for a year) that has superseded everything he has ever suffered before!
It made me realize, every other suffering, every other need, every other prayer, every other wish, pales in comparison to a parent’s prayer, a father’s need, a mother’s wish that his/her child be in good health! It also reminded me of the age old quote, ‘Health is Wealth!’
I asked him about his happiest times ever; He replied, ‘Now, at this time I feel I am living in good times, because I am not jobless most days. Another reason why feel this is a good time for me is, earlier I was living in Colaba area and the room rent was Rs 3000 a month!
Also, the cost of vegetables, and even the street food, is very high there. It’s only a few months ago that I shifted to Nalasopara, near Virar, where the rent is much lower than Colaba, and even the cost of vegetables and food is lower than Colaba.
This move from South to North has saved me lot of money, so I feel happy now that I can now save some money for our daily meals. But the only difficulty I face living in Virar is that it’s expensive traveling by Bus or Train to different construction sites in Mumbai.’
I asked Bablu to what use will he put this bicycle. He replied, ‘I can travel on it looking for work in areas near Virar without having to take a Bus, and that will save me money; when I go to work by train to faraway places I can take the cycle and park it at the station and save the two way fare; I can even use it to go and buy vegetables from the veggies market near Virar for our household needs;
I have to walk at least two Kms every morning to fetch portable water for our daily household needs. This is a very hard part of our day, I have to make this journey twice every morning, a total of 8 Kms, and my shoulders gets nearly ripped carrying the heavy containers laden with water. If I have a bicycle it will share my daily load of water.’
I again asked Bablu, ‘What is the advantage of having a bicycle?’, and he said ‘Saab, cycle ka yeh faida hoga, ki agar…., if something (any medical emergency) ever happens to my child, I can immediately put him on this bicycle and quickly take him to a doctor or to a hospital!’
On hearing this, it took me just a second to reach into the depths of my pocket and fish out the key of the bicycle and handed it to Bablu – ‘ Ride safe!’
Thank you to Ashish Sajnani for donating this bicycle to Bablu. (Bablu donated Rs 300 towards receiving this used bicycle we had received from Milkman and Driver Vijay when Ashish had donated a new bicycle to him. We will add Bablu’s donation of Rs 300 to our kitty to buy a new bicycle for some worthy recipient someday.)
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good service.