106 th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “A father is such a being. One, in front of whom, even a giant of a son will submit his worldly-acquired-ego, if any.”
Mansaram Raju Nirmal (60)
Dhobi (Laundry services)
Mansaram is from UP. I met him when he was pushing his bicycle, laden with an Eiffel tower height of clothes, near St. Andrews Church, Bandra west. I stopped to talk to him when I noticed his bike’s STEEL handle had got so corroded, with age and the unforgiving seasons, that there was a hole in it! His bike was so old, he could not remember how many decades back he had purchased her.
Yet, she was serving him faithfully even though she, like her owner, were in the silver of their lives.
Mansaram came to ‘Bambai’ when the fare to Bombay (It was not Mumbai as yet then) from his village was Rs 60. He could not recollect the year when he arrived here, but he remembered the fare he had paid.
I think it’s not that he has a bad memory. When he told me the reason why he could not be educated by his parents, and thereafter why he left his village to travel to a far away city to earn a livelihood, I realized, when you survive more on hope rather than a ‘peth bhar’ (stomach-full) meal, when you survive living a life where nothing really changes except the texture of your skin beaten by the sun, and rapid aging due to relentless hardships, in such circumstances it is possible you may remember only the fare that took you far from home, far from your childhood village. It happens when your family’s livelihood is at stake.
Mansaram has two sons, and two daughters, and his daughters are married, so is his elder son. His elder son works and lives along with him in Mumbai, Bandra west, and the younger one, unmarried, suffers from epilepsy, he remains mostly at home back in the village.
Though his younger son has made many attempts to get a job, because he has epilepsy he cannot find any decent work. Often at work, or en route, he suffers from epileptic fits and then his employers turn him away as they cannot shoulder the responsibility of his fainting at times.
Mansaram, like any parent, hopes someday his son’s epilepsy will be cured. He was sad about his younger son, though hopeful, but he was happy and very proud of his eldest son. The son who works with him. He says about him, “My son shares my work, and he looks after my wife and me, and my other son too. Though we are getting old. He is so good, every day, before I sleep, he even massages my feet. He does ‘seva’ for me.”
Mansaram beamed with pride saying this. Btw, this was his reply to my question to him, “…What is your best earning to date, what is your biggest and true wealth, to date..?” Moreover, this was the first time, during our conversation, that Mansaram beamed like it’s not just his son at his feet every night by his bed, but, in fact, at his feet are all the world’s possession that could have never been his.
Like a bolt of lightning, I remembered “daddy”, my own father. Even while Mansaram continued to speak about his son. I remembered, when we were children, ‘daddy’ would tell us, my brother and me, to massage his feet. Because we were light weighed, we would massage his legs by standing on them and push down with all our weight. Hahahahahaaa It was fun then. As we grew older, we began using our hands, because we got stronger, thanks to our parents.
However, as we children got even older and more stronger, strangely, we got shy of massaging his feet. The feet of a man we had continued to love, and then we rarely massaged his feet and legs through our prime youth. And I never thought anything wrong about that then, because, I guess, we kids just ‘grew up’, or something like that I must have subconsciously reasoned for stopping massing his legs on and off.
Closer towards my father’s eternal travel, when my father was hospitalized often due to an illness, and our ‘daddy’ had turned as frail as a fragrant rose petal on the wane, we would massage his legs, his feet, even though he would not ask, at the hospital and back home. Even my two sisters would, when they would come to see him.
I am glad I realized now how much those volunteered massages must have meant to daddy, before it was too late for us to give him something he had asked of us through our childhood and youth. And I realized this only in retrospect, while hearing this father, an old Dhobi, Mansaramji, sitting humbly in front of me and speaking with immense love and pride about the manner in which his son does ‘seva’ for him, even though he has turned old he had specifically added.
Yes, we do seva of our children, those we brought into this world by our choice. However, what matters as much, if not more or less, is the seva we will do of those who brought us here in the first place. Our beloved parents.
Speaking of fathers and son, I remember, one particular incident, when my father was admitted in the ICU, during his last hospitalization…. in the bed next to us was (actor) Anil Kapoor’s father, (film producer) Surendra Kapoorji, a very dear friend of my father of over four decades. A dear friend from the days when my father was just a ‘struggler’, and unknown in a foreign, but desired, land of ‘Bambai’ Surendra Kapoorji not only gave him a chance to write songs in his films but had also advised him on family matters.
Nearly every day, at the hospital ICU, I would see Anil Kapoor come to see his father, and Anil would sit by his father’s feet….. and, massage his legs. Just like my brother and sisters did for our ‘daddy’.
I had always known Anil Kapoor as a good actor, and a good guy too, as I worked with him in Subhash Ghai’s film, Taal, (I was an assistant on), but here I witnessed a good star-son too, a good ‘son’ at the end of the day.
A father is such a being. One, in front of whom even a giant of a son will submit his worldly-acquired-ego, if any.
Thank you to Ankita and Himanshu (Lal Batti) 😉 Shah for donating this bicycle to Mansaram. Mansaram too contributed towards its purchase.
I must add, when Ankita called me up to donate a bicycle, she asked me if it’s okay for her two sons to be present when the bike’s recipient visits the bicycle shop to collect the bike. Because this donation is her gift for her two sons on their birthdays that fall in this month; It’s Ayaan’s birthday today, 25th Dec, and it’s Ahaan’s bday on the 31st Dec.
Ankita and Himanshu wanted both their children to witness Mansaram receiving his bicycle. Because she wanted her children to know what ‘charity’ really means, and for that its important they witness the donation themselves, while they are still young.
I think such good values acquired so young will never leave them. Even when both grow out of their boots, out of their school uniforms, and college, and their parent’s home; such values acquired while young will remain within them when they build their own someday. So I happily arranged for both her sons to be present at the shop so that they can meet and greet Mansaram when he arrives to collect his donated bicycle.
Love to them, and we wish them both, Ayaan (7) and Ahaan (5), a very Happy Birthday. Love.
One more thing, I was always known to Himanshu, (Ankita’s husband). But I got acquainted to her when I would visit my Dad at the hospital. In the waiting room outside the ICU she and Himanshu would we waiting too, for their relative who was admitted.
It’s such a coincidence, that the person she happened to donate a bike to turned out to be someone who simply happened to remind me of the very days I had spent at a hospital where I first got acquainted to Ankita.
Furthermore, I know how much Himanshu will connect with what Masaram said, so proudly, about his son doing ‘seva’.
Because that is what Himanshu, and his family, did for someone we all would consider as the closest friend and relative anyone can ever have. A Mother. God Bless.
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 Ali too.
(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )