83rd recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “In your praise, somewhere there, will lay your mother’s too.’
Idli Wada Sambhar Chati, seller.
Kumar does not own a bicycle, he walks, with his goods precariously balanced and loaded on his head, from Dharavi to Dadar west to sell them in and around Dadar.
Kumar is from Tamil Nadu. Back in the village, during his teens and early youth, he was a tree-cutter. He would be paid Rs 200 a day, and not have more than 10 to 15 days of work in a month. Fed up of the insecurity and the poverty, he migrated to Mumbai and has been selling idlis since then. He arrived here 5 years ago and has worked every day since.
Kumar could not study beyond the 5th because his father suffered from some ailment when Kumar was still in school and thereafter he had to stop studying and earn a living, that’s when he became a tree-cutter.
Even today his father remains out of action to work. So Kumar and his brother run the house from their earnings, both sell Idlis in Mumbai. Both do not have bicycles. Their two sisters are married, both brothers and their father funded their weddings.
Kumar is married and has a daughter. He was very happy speaking about his family, his daughter and he was quite proud that he can look after his own family and his parents. That really made him the happiest, he said, in spite of his impoverished circumstances.
When I asked Kumar to tell me something about his parents, he spoke about what his Mother had once told him:
“…. People should take my name with pride if they talk about you! When people will praise your life’s deeds and actions, for me they will be praising me too, because to me it will mean that I must have brought you up well.
Someone might think while praising your deeds, ‘His mother must have brought him up well.’ So praise from people for you will make me very happy, irrespective of whether they give me any credit or not.”
Now, of the millions of things his mother must have told him, from the thousands of stories of his life in his head, Kumar chose to tell me about this one; one shared by a Mother privately to her son. In what circumstances, we shall never know. What story lies behind it, we will never know.
I believe, Kumar was actually acknowledging that his mother gave him a good upbringing, irrespective of the little she could do for her children, because of their unfortunate impoverished existence. It’s that celestial moment, when she inspired in him the will to work hard and earn a honest living, that he remembers most clearly.
That’s probably why, it is this very memory that lay at the tip of his imagination waiting to be shared with us. Like a drop of water that rests at the tip of a melting iceberg in summer – she just can’t wait to be shared with the rivers.
It made me wonder what must have been the experiences of his Mother, for her to share her story with him in which lay the lesson she gave him, and gave us – : “In your praise, somewhere there, will lay your mother’s too.’
I leave you all with a beautiful tribute for mothers:
“But there’s always a story behind everything. How a picture got on a wall. How a scar got on your face. How….. etc., Sometimes the stories are simple, and sometimes they are hard and heartbreaking. But behind all your stories is always your mother’s story; because hers is where yours begin.” ― Mitch Albom.
Thank you to Pooja and Bhavin Sanghvi for purchasing this new bicycle for Kumar. Kumar contributed more than half it’s cost.
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.