149A) recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :
“…. who knew then, that many of these people must have suffered long term health issues while their skill on the mill helped my mother and our khachanchis’ and maharajs’ (cooks) make soft parathas naan rotis for us.”
Tea Coffee Biscuit seller.
Kaleem is from UP, and lives in Bandra East. Once upon a time, he used to be a Kadia (Mason), and his forefathers were masons too.
A few years ago, Kaleem suffered from a lung ailment, and he still does, most probably because of the regular breathing in of cement dust and lime fumes at work. He thinks he may have developed the lung disorder because of that. I believe that is possibly.
In the past, when we donated a bicycle to a man who worked at a flour mill, and another person who once painted walls, both had mentioned they are aware that people of their profession sometimes die quite early because of the fumes they cannot escape. Even though they usually cover their mouth and nose with their handkerchief.
I never knew, until then, that microscopic dust from wheat, rice and other grains enters into their lungs, while the mill is humbling hard grain to soft dust.
It made me reflect of the times my mother or cook must have bargained hard with the flour mill guys while getting their grains crushed, and pay them what they thought was a reasonable price for the job. But who knew then that many of these people must have suffered long term health issues while their skill on the mill helped my mother and our khachanchis’ and maharajs’ (cooks) make soft parathas naan rotis for us.
I have often bargained hard even with painters, who made my room and house so beautiful with their expert strokes. I hope those people did not suffer because of the lead that once was a major ingredient in paints.
Kaleem’s family comprises of a son, 16, daughter, 14, and a son, 18. All three were once studying, but I think now they have stopped studying because they need to supplement the family income. His daughter, I think, is going to a madrassa or a government school or college, I am not certain if she is.
So here was a once-upon-a-rime-great-mason, now selling chai coffee biscuits on streets…? Not that selling tea is not dignified. In fact, Abdul, from Santacruz, a tea seller, had told me “… my friends and relatives respect me immensely, ‘meri bahot izzat karte hain’ , because they consider me, or anyone selling tea walking on streets, a most respectful and dignified profession, rather than resorting to stealing and begging.”
Kaleem had repeatedly mentioned his financial security and life got nearly destroyed after he made the decision to sell his house in Bandra East and migrate to his village and build a bigger house there.
He said with pride nostalgia and melancholy “… I have built many great structures with my masonry skills, and so have my father and his father. But, alas, my lung illness has robbed me of the only profession my family and I have known since my childhood. But after we migrated to my village, and I spent all my savings on building a really good house for us, my family could not live in the village, there was no regular electricity and too much mosquitoes and many other reasons. We had to sell our house and return to live in Mumbai, on rent.
I cannot possibly return to masonry work, and being uneducated I feel selling tea and coffee is an option I have to earn a regular income, however little it be, it will keep me active and bring some food on the table. I have never done this kind of work before. I was always a skilled craftsman.”
This is when Kaleem’s eyes went moist. He paused a bit to gather his dignity he feared he may have lost in a stranger’s presence. I was saddened looking at his spirit bite dust.
I am glad our two donors, Murali Krishnan and Rana Roy, helped Kaleem buy his new vehicle of livelihood. Kaleem was okay with receiving a second hand bicycle from us. But, we decided to give Kaleem Bhai a new bicycle. It was the least we could do to honor his past skills of a master mason. Moreover, Kaleem was willing to contribute half the cost for the new one, and he did pay half its cost. Truly a deserving candidate.
All the best to Kaleem for making a brand new start with this bicycle. We pray his palms never have to face the sky seeking alms.
Happy new year to all of you, and to all the chai and coffee walas who keep us warm in a few sips, especially on winter nights and early mornings on our cold cold streets.
Since it’s a brand new year, I wish to end on a humorous note, I decided to touch upon the ‘skill’ some people have 😉
At standing still I have a skill
that truly is unique.
At sleeping I’m unquestionably,
on a winning streak.
At lying down I’m unsurpassed;
I’m simply undefeated.
At sitting I’m the reigning champ;
I’ll never be unseated.
At drifting in a daydream
it is obvious I’m blessed.
At starting at the TV
I’m undoubtedly the best.
At doing nothing
I’m even better than you’d think.
At everything besides that, though,
I’d have to say I stink.
I hope someday I’ll maybe learn
another kind of skill.
Until then I’m content to be
the best at standing still. 😉
© Kenn Nesbitt
Thank you Rana Roy and Murali Krishnan for helping Kaleem purchase this bicycle; and thank you to Siddhath Vora of Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service he provides us on the purchase of bicycles.
Beneficiaries of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1
#HumanityOurReligion #Empower #Empowerment #Charity #Donation #Livelihood #Bicycles #Inspiration #RakeshBakshi #ProudIndian #JaiHind #Humanize #Equalize #Spiritualize #BicycleAngels