107th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “…. the petals that are willing to keep themselves open to dawn’s skies, will receive the cool dew from them, to sustain themselves through the day’s blazing and unforgiving sun.”
Mahadev Prasad Nirmal (58)
Dhobi (laundry services)
Mahadev is from UP, and in the city he lives in south Mumbai at present. He has a son, around 40, who works and lives at Khar Danda, Khar west, and he is employed with a Dhobi, ironing clothes for a living. Mahadev had a daughter, she passed away due to an illness during early childhood.
Though both are dhobis, father and son are independent of each other, financially too. Mahadev chose to make his son independent because he rather work alone, he says, with his own rules and principles, and meets his son now and then socially.
I thought that Mahadev making his son independent, and not dependent on the limitation of his own limited work as a Dhobi, is a good decision Mahadev made for his son.
Because, true individual freedom cannot exist without economic security and independence. Both, in my opinion, are what Mahadev really gave his son, unknowingly maybe, even though he could not give his son the world at his feet, which must be the dream of so many parents, poor and rich.
Mahadev’s father was also a Dhobi, back in the village, but because he could not earn enough to educate Mahadev beyond the ninth class, Mahadev, after he failed the ninth, migrated to Mumbai to find work as a Dhobi, simply because that is one profession he knew well, thanks to his father, learnt it at his feet.
Hmmmmm, Mahadev’s father, I thought, could not give him further education, but because Mahadev assisted his father from a young age, he got a lifelong profession from him. Just watching his father and helping him now and then, always willing.
See, I thought to myself hearing him travel into his past, …. the petals that are willing to keep themselves open to dawn’s skies receive the cool dew from them, and that dew will sustain them through the day’s blazing and unforgiving sun.
The profession of being a Dhobi has not earned Mahadev much, as much as he would have liked, he had admitted when I happened to randomly meet him on my ride one day through Peddar road, but, it gave him proper meals, proper shelter, dignified clothes and an education for his son, who is today financially independent (even if he be a dhobi).
Mahadev feels this much is good enough too, the little most will say he earns, considering he came here uneducated and had no other skill other than what he learnt at the feet of his father, and which paid off. He can earn more if he works harder, but has somewhere drawn a line between too much and too little.
I am reminded of one moment of humble learning from my own father.
I once asked my father, (with pride in him as a very good lyrics writer, because he was forever working with the top directors, top producers and top actors, for over 40 years)…. I asked him that I believe he writes better than one other lyricist who is not as consistent as him, nor as good as him, yet that lyricist charges much more than him (my father), so then, why does he (my father) not raise his fee?! , charge a little more than that ‘lesser ‘lyricist?! (Btw, I was a ‘businessman’ those days, and not really a good one at that 😉 and had not as yet arrived in the filmmaking and writing profession which truly matured me.)
My father replied, with patience, “I am eight class fail, a refugee of the partition, uprooted overnight, lost all we owned, migrated overnight from Rawalpindi to Delhi, and back in Karachi I was simply a cadet in the Royal Indian Navy before partition, and then post the partition I was simply a soldier in the Indian army, and I earned a maximum of 75 rupees a month in the less than ten years I served the Indian armed forces. When I volunteered to paratroop, which I did, I did that only because for that they paid us a few extra rupees.
Now, from an average income of Rs 75 rupees a month to having become a lyrics writer for over 630 movies and 3500 songs, over 40 years, what more can I possibly want, especially considering that what I am being paid, is what I ask for without any regret, and rarely does anyone bargain with me to reduce my fee, there is some pride in that too for me.
Moreover, what I ask for, is not just good enough for me, but with that income I have brought up you four children and got three married…. So, what makes you think I am undervaluing myself or charging less than what you feel I deserve? Most importantly, for me, I do not see any reason why I should charge any more than what I need for myself and my family, as my needs are few and limited, though a few are quite expensive in nature….”
Though my father was content with how much he charged for his talent, he was passionate to write and leave with his boots on. And he did, working till the last month of his life and writing the lyrics of Mujhse Dosti Karoge, a Yashraj film, a top banner, his last release. His passion was to work, and not charge more than his rivals or someone I considered less better than him. Like Mahadev, because Mahadev had told me his profession does not earn him much, but he feels it will give him a livelihood until his last iron.
I think, like Mahadev, and my own father, we need to know from where we began and where we have reached, never forgetting our humble origins, our journey to our ‘today’, and value ourselves and the contribution we make, irrespective of what it pays or even if it pays less than what some others are paid in the same boat. That, brings contentment; contentment is not lack of ambition or desire, I learnt.
Thank you to Surabhi Shah, Dr Niraj Vora, Saket Ojha, Ekta Turakhiya, Nishant Patel, for donating, contributing substantially, towards a new bicycle for Mahadev; his old bicycle was running on blessings, I thought, when I saw him walk with it on Peddar road. (Mahadev also contributed towards this purchase.)
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. And to Gazi Ali.
(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )