68th recipient of livelihood bicycle: ‘If you believe in Him, then He is God. If not, then He is just a piece of stone!’
Rajesh Sahani. (40)
Rajesh is from Gorakhpur, UP. He arrived in Mumbai around 10 years ago. I asked him what made him come to Mumbai?
He replied, ‘I came here since we did not have food to eat back in the village.’ His eyes turned moist when he said that to me. Then he put his head down for a moment, and looked at the floor. I felt he was staring at a Grand Canyon between him and us, even though he was seated at just an arm’s length from me!
His reaction to my question about why he came to Mumbai made me realize what prolonged hunger can do to you; I think the violent spasms of an empty stomach from a distant past can return to haunt you, even at the slightest unintended-provocation!
His own family consists of his wife, three sons and one daughter, the eldest is 14. They go to school. His parents died when he was very young, because of TB, and he (and his two brothers) were thereafter brought up by his Mother’s sister and her husband as they had no child of their own. His brothers work in the village as carpenters.
He said, ‘After our parents died, we were looked after by my relatives, and I took charge of my responsibilities as a man, and a family man, only after my first child was born. Until then I was a dependant on my foster parents.’ Even his foster parents have passed away. As for his own parents, he does not have any memories of his father, except that he was a watch maker, a watch repairer.
I asked Rajesh to describe God.
He replied, ‘God is everything. See, if you believe in Him, then He is God. If not, then he is just a piece of stone!’
The used bicycle we donated to him will be of use to him to travel to some of his work sites, so he will now save money on expensive public transport. He will also use it to fetch vegetables for their own consumption.
Most importantly, the bicycle will be used to fetch portable water for their household use. The portable water he buys, costs Rs 3 a can, and the can weighs 20 Kgs. Until now he fetches the same on his shoulder and back from a source that is 2 Kms away. Hereafter, this bike will share the load with him.
When Rajesh told me his family of 5 people sustain themselves daily on only ONE can of 20 Kgs of portable water, it immediately put into perspective how much ‘portable’ water I may be employing to wash my bike once a week, and my car daily! I am certain that everyday my employee (the fellow who washes my car daily) must be using at least one can of 20 Kgs of portable water on my car, or one on my bike weekly!
Moreover, with the rains remaining absent from our lives till now, as absent as gravity in outer space, I shudder to think how much he will have to pay for portable water if the rains fail to flow down on us from the heavens, this season. Even we (the privileged) may soon have to buy water sold in tankers for our daily use. We better start praying for rains. My own hands? Oh, they are already folded in prayer since a few days. 😉 Amen!
Thank you ‘K’ and Meghna Rodrigues for donating this used bike to Rajesh. (Rajesh donated Rs 500 for the same. The amount will be added to our kitty to buy a new bike for donation. )