135th recipient – Hope is the thing with feathers

135 Paan Ramakant

135th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—

That perches in the soul—

And sings the tune without the words—

And never stops—at all—

Ramakant Dey (37)

Betel leaf (Paan) seller.

Ramakant is from Odisha. (Orissa) He is educated till the 8th. Primarily farmers, like his father he too tilled the land until 6 to 7 years ago.

However, the income from agriculture could not sustain them. He decided to migrate to Mumbai and sell betel leaves, the same he was once cultivating back in the village.

Ramakant has 3 sisters and 2 brothers. His sisters are married. Ramakant got two of his sisters married.

His mother suffered from cancer for many seven years, and they spent their savings on her cure. It fell short, so, they sold their ancestral land to raise Rs One and a half lacs for her further cure. That too fell short. They then borrowed around ten to eleven lac rupees from relatives for her cure.

They spent that too on their beloved mother. But they lost her to death. Ramakant’s mother passed away one and a half years ago.

But their debt is alive. It returns to haunt him every month, when the next loan installment is due.

Ramakant continues to pay off their family debt month after month, ever since then. Looking at his old bicycle, his soiled clothes, weak body language, and no glimmer of hope in his eyes, saddened me. I felt that for a man like him, in deep debt, paying off a debt of six lacs in monthly installments selling Paan leaves, for such a man the months must be arriving faster than the speed at which Hailey’s fascinating comet travels through space.

He still owes six lacs to his lenders, and knows he has to pay it back. The margins they earn are so tiny, I wonder how much sacrifices they need to make to pay back loans of such quantum.

His sorrow is not that he has a debt of six lacs to pay back. His greatest sorrow is the loss of his soul mate – his mother.

He told me, “Saab, meri Maa ke marne se meri aadhi zindagi khatam ho gayee. Jab se Maa chalee gayi, tab se main toh aadha ho gaya hoon. Meri aadhi zindagi meri Maa ki diya hui thi, mujhe toh aisa lagta hai unke chale jaane se.

Mujhe woh itni yaad aati hai, ki… main toh har waqt chalte chalte bhi usssi ka hi naam leta hoon. Woh sabse zyada mujhe hi pyar karti thi, mujhe pehle khilati thi. Aur khudh ke liye nahin rakhti khana jab khana kam padh jaata tha.”

(Sir, I feel I have becomes half a human after the death of my mother. I feel half my life is over after losing her. I feel my life until her death was her gift to me. I miss her so much, and I think of her every moment, when I walk or ride she occupies my mind, I place her name on my lips every now and then daily. From all my siblings, she would first feed me. The best things she would keep aside for me first, though I am not the eldest nor youngest. She would give me her portion of food when it was less.)

Ramakant’s loss of his mother reminded me of a heart wrenching song my father wrote back in the 60’s, in the film Chhota Bhai: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HaXn0Fz2ARk , expressing the loss of a soul mate, Mother.

I miss my mother too, immensely.

We decided to uplift Ramakant’s livelihood prospects, in our own humble little way, by buying him a new bicycle. The advantage of having a new bicycle would be, Ramakant said he will now be able to travel, ride longer distances. Thus increasing the prospects of his income, his trade, even though the amount will be quite marginal to begin with.

For us, this is a good enough reason to help him, and millions of others like him.

Another thing, we privileged people may consider people like him ‘under-privileged’, but even they have something to give those who have far less – Ramakant donated his old bicycle to us, because we hope to further donate his old bicycle to a tea seller who needed one to better his income prospects.

So, you are never too poor to help another. Moreover, Ramakant even contributed Rs 500 towards the purchase of this new bicycle, even though he donated his old one to help another person.

Ramakant has a five years young child, and his family lives with his father back in the village. He looked so sad and hopeless to me, especially when he mentioned how he feels he is half dead after the loss of his mother, the only consolation I could think of offering him, then and there, was, ‘Your mother has gone away. But your child, your father, your wife are alive. You owe it to them to buckle up.’

So, we need to keep pedaling for those who are dependent on us. At the loss of a loved one, do not lose hope that the Sun will not rise again, because at least he Moon shines when the Sun goes down on us. Even moonlight is ‘light’, which is hope. Is what I tried to convey to Ramakant Dey.

‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers—

That perches in the soul—

And sings the tune without the words—

And never stops—at all—

– Emily Dickinson.

Thank you to Parag Parekh and Shaad Randhawa, for purchasing this new bicycle for Ramakant.

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.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/309043432570135/

https://bicycleangels.wordpress.com/

https://twitter.com/RakBak16

(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )

#BicycleAngels #Charity #Donors #Donation #Bicycles #Livelihood #inspiration #RakeshAnandBakshi #RakeshBakshi

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