100th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : ‘Working at a flour mill is like being the motorcyclist in the Wheel of Death at the circus; both face danger to their lives sooner or later.’
Jahendra Yadav. (34)
Flour (Aata) maker.
Jahendra is from UP. He works at an Aate ka chakki (flour mill) in Khar west. and is the only employee of the mill and also delivers the produce.
Jahendra does not own a bicycle, so to make deliveries he has to often borrow one from some neighbor or friend, who naturally often cannot spare their bicycles. So his delivery work suffers.
With this new bicycle, he will no longer be at the mercy of his neighbors or friends, even though they have been kind to him often. So, this donation of a bicycle will kind of empower him, I thought.
Jahendra’s father was a sweetmeats maker, a Halwai, but his business in the village did not succeed, and after suffering huge losses he had to shut shop.
This was just the beginning of his father’s falls. Because there was another one awaiting him. It arrived soon after, while he was walking across a bridge; he lost balance, and fell into the running stream below, from a great height.
Post that fall from the bridge, his father lost not just his ability to use one arm, but also his ability to earn a fair livelihood for his young family of four – two sons and a sister.
Those two falls his father suffered, shifted the burden of earning a livelihood for his family on Jahendra’s teen shoulders.
Consequently. young Jahendra to leave school when he was in the 9th and seek a livelihood. So began his migration to Mumbai, in 1995, with a kind relative who offered him a job at the flour mill he worked at. He has been working there ever since.
The profession, of a flour maker, has helped him revive not just his father’s family, but also helps him feed, clothe and educate his own. He has two, a daughter and a son, both he has placed in a school. He wants them to complete school, and hopefully graduation too; something he regrets he could not.
Jahendra mentioned his profession could be life-threatening. When he works at the flour mill, he is enveloped in flour dust. There is simply no escape from it, as it enters his eyes, nose, ears and mouth. The people, known to him, who have worked in this profession before him, some of them died from breathing related diseases and illness, like TB and Astama, he said. He said that without sadness, almost poker faced, as though accepting the pitfall with the rewards.
I have no way of knowing if this is true, that the end of many flour mill workers is so sad; but I spared a thought for these humble flour mill workers because of whom I have enjoyed some well made and delicious chappatis, parathas, tandoori rotis, halwa, etc, because the fine flour on many occasions, at least during my childhood and teens, originated from such flour mills, from the hands of such artists. I know as I would sometimes accompany my mother to these flour mills in Bandra, and always stood far from the shop because of the white dust in and around it.
These temples of fine flour, where the finest of wheat grains from the wheat basket of our nation, is crafted carefully into fine powder, a powder nearly as fine as stardust, sculpted by artists like Jahendra.
From the way he had described his job to me, how he needs to be very careful about how much he grinds the wheat grains, (depending on whether the customer is Punjabi, Gujarati or Marathi – the Punjabis want it least grinded, and the Marathis the finest) his profession was nothing less than that of being an artist, I say. Jahendra is a sculptor of whole wheat.
Except that in his profession, past artists, workers just like him, who had crafted the flour for my family too, may have died many decades later in circumstances where every breath must have been as labored as what some of my fortunate friends experienced, while they were on exotic adventures like deep sea diving and mountain climbing at very high altitudes done for sheer pleasure. The later labored breathing, however, we welcome.
Long after Jahendra left with his new bicycle, I thought he had chosen a profession that is nothing less than being on that fast spinning motorcycle at the the fascinating Wheel of Death at the circus, that we joyfully rushed to as kids, to watch the death defying motorcyclist speed on his motorbike in circles.
Both face the danger of an untimely death; except, the Wheel of Death motorcyclist faces it in the short term, and the wheat sculptor in the long.
Each of us is responsible for our rose.
Thank you Dr Niraj Vora for donating this bicycle to Jahendra; Jahendra contributed substantially towards its 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.
(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )