90th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “Bambai will give you the work for which you thirst. In this city you may sleep-hungry, but not necessarily die-hungry!”
Shailendra Bagwe. (37)
Milkman and Electrician.
Shailendra works as a milkman from 5 am to 9am, and thereafter he freelances as an Electrician.
He is born and brought up in the BDD Chawls, Worli. (The BDD Chawls comprises of 121 buildings, part of a family of colonies that were conceived in 1920, with the setting up of the Bombay Development Department. The BDD chawls represent a colonial vision of working class needs – symbolized by the barrack like rooms along corridors that end with common toilets.)
Shailendra could not study beyond the 10th, because his father lost his job when the Spinning Mill he was working at shut down, and thereafter Shailendra had to earn a livelihood to help his family financially.
Since Shailendra had to begin earning a livelihood soon, he enrolled for an Electrician’s diploma course, at a government education institution, and then joined an established electrician to get hands on training. Along with that, to pay his way through his studies, he began to wake up at 5 am daily to deliver milk to households in his vicinity.
However, even before his father lost his job at the Spinning Mill, Shailendra was delivering milk on foot, right from the age of 12, to supplement the household income. I was happy we were helping someone as deserving as him, in our small way, thanks to our precious donors.
You know, the really nice thing about this fellow, when I met him at Worli, on my morning ride, there was a deaf and mute fellow with him. And after that. whenever I passed him on my rides, that same deaf and mute fellow was mostly always present with him.
So I asked Shailendra, what does this fellow, the deaf and mute guy, do hanging with him all the time.
Shailendra said ‘I let him hang with me so he can do some odd jobs here and there for me and for some others, and help him make a living in whatever small ways he possibly can.’
I was really impressed! In the simple manner on how Shailendra helps a person not related to him. Reflecting on his actions, I told myself, you do not have to have a social initiative like Bicycle Angels or any other, to really help someone or anyone. If you step outside your door and stretch your arms out to embrace someone, your arms will encompass at least one soul in them who needs a ‘lift’. Because, even a man who wakes up at 5 am to deliver milk for a living, then works from 9 to 8 as an electrician, is gifted with a heart as large as some of our biggest and genuine NGOs, even if his arms do not hold in them resources like those NGOs do. Great deeds are done by the heart, even if they be executed by your hands and deputies.
Shailendra operates the milk delivery profession along with his uncle and another fellow, and they have one bike between them to share. I thought it will boos their business if they have two bikes between them.
To sum it up, I asked him, he being born and brought up in a location like BDD Chawls, where most families must be surviving on much less than many others in this city, courting adversity and hardship on a regular basis, what is his learning of the city of Mumbai and her people.
Shailendra smiled at me, like a child eager to share his secret, and told me – “In this city you cannot go hungry. You won’t die of hunger.”
Long after he had left with his new bicycle, I continued to wonder about what he had said. In this city one cannot go hungry, one cannot not find a livelihood. The city may not pay you well, you may not eat well every day, you may not have a meal three times a day, but if your hands are most willing to work, your legs most willing to slog, your mind most willing to be engaged fruitfully, Bambai will give you the work for which you thirst. In this city you may sleep-hungry, but not necessarily die-hungry, if you willingly submit to her formidable will to make you thanklessly work.
David Mckay had said – The privilege to work is a gift, the power to work is a blessing, the love of work is success!
I would like to add to his quote: ‘And the opportunity to work is nothing less than a miracle!’ So we must value those that come our way.
Thank you to KS, Pooja Bhavin Sanghvi, and Meghna Rodrigues, for donating this bicycle to Shailendra; Shalendra contributed more than half 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. J)