79th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : ‘… I have reached so far solely on my own strengths, and by not thinking about my weaknesses, or my misfortunes since childhood.’
Nana Chokan (27)
Idli Sambhar Chatni Wada seller. (My favorite snack! 😉 )
Nana lives at Dharavi, and belongs to Tamil Nadu. He could not speak a word of Hindi, so I had to call upon his cousin brother to become the translator between our different cultures. I met Nana while on my regular morning rides; he was struggling pulling the weight of his food-goods on a dilapidated old bicycle, so I stopped to chat with him.
Nana is educated till the 4th Std., due to financial difficulties he could not study any further. Post his incomplete schooling, he began working as a daily wages agriculture-laborer at his village, just like his father was.
He began selling Idlis in Mumbai 5 years ago, as it would provide him a more regular income and help him be ‘independent’ too. Ambitious fellow, is what I thought of him. He has a son and daughter, 4, 5, and both go to a school. He wants to educate them both.
Nana wakes up at 4 – 5 am and cooks the Idlis, chatni, sambhar, wadas, himself. His wife does not cook what he needs for his profession; his wife cooks, but only their home meals.
Bravo, I thought, he truly is a self-reliant man, at least as far as his profession goes. In fact, that reminded me, earlier an Idli seller, Mani, whom we had donated a bike to, too had told me that he himself cooks the produce meant for sale. Was there an unwritten law amongst such professionals, the Idli-walas, that they be self-reliant for their professional produce, I wondered and admired if it were true.
I asked him what will he do with his old bicycle, now that he will receive a brand new one?, He said he will hand it to his brother who sells Idlis too, but does not have a bicycle.
I realized that our humble and single donation towards one person will actually help two families – his and his brothers!, I smiled as I thought of this bonus we received from our just-one deed.
I asked Nana which has been his most challenging period ever….?,
He replied – “I have faced difficulties and challenges all my life, ever since childhood. However, I have reached so far solely on my own strengths, and by not thinking about my weaknesses, and my misfortunes since childhood. I am self-made. The day I work I eat. The day I don’t, I won’t. So, I have always worked, and I must work, every single day.”
Having said that, it’s not that he has not experienced happiness; because on questioning him on which has been the happiest period in his life so far?,
Nana replied, ‘…. Finally, after long I am beginning to feel happy only lately. Actually, I can say that I have been happy since a year now. Because I think my profession is finally showing fruits; it’s been a year since I am doing quite well. My daily sales amount to Rs 1200 to 1500, and I manage to earn a net profit of Rs 300 to 600 a day, after deducting my expenses.’
After he left, I wondered, how much do we really need to be happy? How much?
Because, here was a seemingly happy man for whom an average daily net income of Rs 300 to 600 was good enough for him to tell us – ‘Finally, after long, I am beginning to feel happy…. Because finally I am earning a daily average net profit of Rs 300 to Rs 500.’
Which also made me think, – if him earning Rs 300 to 600 a day is ‘happiness’ for him, how terribly impoverished a life did he and his family lead until then?!!!
Thank you to Naga Raj for donating this new bicycle to Nana. Nana contributed nearly half the cost of the bicycle.
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. Thank you Siddharth for sending me his pic.