83rd recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “Dreams are our only geography—our very own native land, our very own space for all times to come.”
Eknath Patil. (30)
Courier Mail delivery.
Eknath has been a courier delivery person since 9 years. He delivers mail in Bandra area, and has never had a bicycled to execute his job. This will be his first bicycle in this profession.
I asked him why he never purchased one earlier?, his reply, “I am married and have two children, two daughters, and so I have not been able to save enough to buy a bicycle. But since you people are willing to donate one to me, bear almost half the cost of one, I can now venture to buy one. Thank you, to you all.”
Eknath is born and brought up in Kolhapur. He migrated to Mumbai nearly a decade ago as his father could not afford to pay for his education beyond the 12th Std. His family’s financial circumstances forced him and his brother to migrate to Mumbai; his brother works as a security guard in a company in Mumbai. His sister is married.
His father is a farmer and they own a small quantity of land in the village which they cultivate. However, its not enough to sustain them, so his father also works on land belonging to others to make ends meet.
Before he came to Mumbai and found a job in the Courier profession, as a delivery person, Eknath worked in the fields with his father and he loved it. He wishes even today that he did not have to work as a courier person, and wishes one day he can return to his village and cultivate their own land.
Eknath admitted he has never really know ‘happiness’, however, he is very happy that he has two daughters, and said, ‘…unlike some other people who get sad when they have a daughter, I am overjoyed that I have two!
Furthermore, I realized the true value of what my parents have done for me, (so what if they could not afford to educate me beyond the 12th, so what if I had to leave my home and village and migrate to Mumbai for a living), only after I had my own two children.
When I struggle day in and day out to meet the financial needs of my own family, my own two children, it made me realize and be grateful for all the hard work, struggles, challenges, my own parents have endured for me, and even my siblings. Its overwhelming to think how much our parents do for us. After having my own children I can never thank my parents enough for all that they somehow managed to provide for me. I just wonder now how they must have done it.’
I advise you should not read the following paragraphs, if you suffer from claustrophobia:
The biggest challenge Eknath faces in Mumbai is the ‘squeeze’. He lives in a room with nearly another dozen tenants, and the maximum space each of them get to sleep on at night is – 12 square feet! (Yes, 2 feet x 5 to 6 feet.)
Therefore, stretching himself by even half an inch beyond the earmarked 12 square feet is strictly prohibited, and ruthlessly enforced on all the tenants living in that room.
To keep his personal belongings, a bag, there is a ‘kind of hole’ in the wall that is nearly 2 feet x 2 feet and has a depth of 1 foot; so all his wordly belongings in Mumbai must fit in that space only!
Moreover, each tenant is allowed to hang their daily wear clothes on a single ‘Kheela’, nail, a iron hook, on the wall. All that they keep aside to wear another day, must fit on one nail on the wall. There are as many Khilas on the wall as many tenants in that room.
So, when he has buy things to carry back home to his family, on his annual trips to Kolhapur, he has to shop for them en route to the Bus station or railway station only, as there is no place nor any space in his Mumbai room for him to store any additional stuff in.
In the day, if they need to rest, on a holiday like Sundays, the tenants are not allowed to sleep in the day unless they work nights, and can rest against the wall and their lower body cannot occupy more than four tiles, each tile having a dimension of 1 foot x 1 foot. Naturally, stretching of arms and legs is not recommended in the day or night, as it will invariably hit a neighbor tenant.
While he spoke, I myself felt claustrophobic! Such a kind of ‘squeeze’ is what even a rider acquaintance of mine had felt when she first migrated to Mumbai from a small town, (and she was from a well to do family arriving here on a IT job.)
She had said to me – ‘… That’s the first thing I felt coming to Mumbai, a squeeze; it’s a dam good place to be in, but everything here felt like a ‘squeeze’ to begin with, too compact compared to the bigger homes and spaces I was used to living in a town in South India, and one even in Gujarat, before arriving here.’
What Eknath, and my rider acquaintance, said to me, put into perspective the value of land in cities like Mumbai, and even New York. Because when I had traveled to New York a few years ago and lived there for a few months for a film workshop, I felt the exact same squeeze overnite, living in a matchbox size hotel room for which I was paying the rates of probably a spacious Bungalow in a premier part of Mumbai!
Hearing Eknath, and speaking of land, the dream to own your own space in a geography of your choice, a space of your own that is big enough for your dreams, they are usually beyond our needs, a space in which all your dreams can rest comfortably along with that of your familys’, and new ones can be born to fulfillment, reminds me of a profound quote:
“Dreams are our only geography—our very own native land, our very own space for all times to come.” ― Dejan Stojanovic
Thank you Shashi Chhabri and Sai Baba for buying a new bicycle for Eknath; he contributed more than half for purchase of the same.
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.
Thank you to Gazi for Eknath’s pic with the bike.
(PS – Rs 2000 TO 2500 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. J)