109th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “Summer. She is very cruel to us. When our taps run dry, we seek out friends who will be kind enough to allow us to come over and wash our dirty linen.”
Anil Bhikale (34)
Milk delivery from 4 am, Newspaper delivery from 7 am, and security guard from 9 am.
Anil migrated to Mumbai five years ago, from near Kolhapur, and lives at Lower Parel in a room with another one to two dozen migrants like him. His family is back in Kolhapur.
Anil is HSC pass, twelfth standard. However, his father could not provide for his further education, nor have a substantial income from farming/cultivation, so he encouraged Anil to migrate to Mumbai and try earn a living far better than what he will be able to provide.
Anil liked his family’s profession, farming, it gave him the freedom to be one’s own boss, even though it is excruciating hard work in unbearable sun and heat, and unpredictable results; yet, its better than being in a city far from home and his loved ones, he says.
I asked Anil, which is his happiest moment in life, or has been so far?
He replied, “I am happiest when my parents call me from the village; they call twice a week at least. My happiness lies not just in their calling, rather, its when they say they are well, doing well; that, makes me the happiest ever.”
Anil is the only child, no siblings. His parents cannot afford to even buy oil, cooking oil, so, he buys oil from the wholesale market in Mumbai and transports it through friends to his village. It was just ‘oil’ he mentioned, yet, he was as proud as he was buying a 24 carat gold biscuit from his savings and sending it to his father to deposit in their family’s safety deposit vault in some cooperative bank! Such, can be the value of one can of oil for so many families across our nation’s heartland.
Family. You certainly didn’t ask for them, and you can’t trade’ them for anything, but, out of the billions of human beings on our planet, and if life exists elsewhere then a few more trillions, from all these trillions it is only our family who will know best. They’re the ones who cherish you, and whom you should cherish in return, irrespective of the brothers and sisters who embrace us beyond them outside our homes.
I asked Anil about the most challenging times he has faced since he migrated, or continues to face in this ‘city of dreams’ that he chose to migrate to? A city he believes is helping him get closer to his dream, and his primary dream being to first provide for his parents.
Anil replied, “The summer. The summer of Mumbai is very cruel, ruthless, to people like us, who live in a room with more than a dozen other migrants. Because, almost every summer there is no water in our taps. What do we do then? We seek favors from some very kind friends we have made in this once alien land. They allow us to come over to their homes just to use their bathrooms to wash our clothes. So, we collect our dirty clothes for days until someone we know will open his heart to us and allow us in their home that has flowing water.”
Anil blamed the sun, for his water tap becoming a desert every summer; okay. But I rather blame our government. The state. Our elected representatives in particular. There is so much corruption that the milk in our taps meant for the ‘Anils’ from our nation’s heartland has flown into the coffins of some of our politicians. Not their vaults, but their coffins and pyres.
Why not vaults but coffins and pyres? Because corrupt politicians and bureaucrats believe they will be taking their ill-gotten wealth with them in their coffins and pyres. They don’t know or care that the wealth they earn from honest means will only go with them along with their karma, and with the blessings they leave behind with it.
Returning to Anil, how every summer he finds friends who allow him to come over to wash his dirty linen, well, our city has many kind people, I get tired saying this to some of my pessimist dear friends, or to those who are simply ill informed and not in touch with the pulse nor the breath on our city’s streets and lanes where the ‘Anils’ of India live. “Amchi aani Tumchi Mumbai. Jai Hind.”
Thank you to Dhruvi Ranawat for donating this bicycle to Anil. (Anil too contributed substantially towards its cost)
Dhruvi is five years young. Its her Birthday today! “Happy Bday dear Dhruvi.” Her father, Brijesh, donated this bicycle to Anil as a special gift for his daughter on her super special day.
Though just five, Dhruvi wanted to be present when her father hand this gift to Anil; so, post school she came over with her Mum to the store in Bandra to meet Anil; furthermore, Dhruvi was gracious enough sit on the bicycle’s top tube, just as many of us did, sat ‘double’ seat, as kids, when we rode with an elder from our family or with some older friends from our neighborhood. That’s when this accompanying photograph was taken.
Looking at his daughter seated on the bicycle, Dhruvi’s father said to me later, “Rakesh, Dhruvi was very happy today.”
Brijesh, so are we man. Happiness, and kindness, my friend, so bloody infectious!!!
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. )