Sr No. 192
Mahadev Ghunke (55)
“One glass of water is what really matters to many who serve us daily. (And it does not have to be refrigerated-chilled.)”
Newspaper vendor since the age of 14.
Mahadev lives near Bandra station. His father expired when he was in the 8th standard in school, leaving being a family of four siblings he had to begin delivering newspapers to pay for his school fees and save some for their family expenses.
He has two children, his wife is a domestic help working at various homes.
After meeting many beneficiaries, like Mahadev, who began delivering milk, newspapers, etc to earn a livelihood when they were teens, they had to stop their school education and sometimes even migrate from their ancestral village to Mumbai for better livelihood opportunities, I feel untimely death of the family’s breadwinner is a habitual thief who has often got away unpunished for stealing innumerable opportunities from innumerable people; and some such unfortunate victims are often the newspaper wala, doodth wala, pau wala… who bring to our doorsteps so many conveniences that vanished from their own home’s threshold on the death of their family’s sole bread winner – fathers. On Fathers’ Day week, I thought it’s nice we happened to assist someone buy a new bicycle whose life changed on the death of his own.
As I watched Mahadev ride away on his brand new bicycle, so happy he was, I thought – perhaps next time some of us see our own ‘paper wala’ bring to our home the daily news, news good or bad, let us pause one second in eternity to ask him if he would like to have a glass of water; and or offer him a sugar candy. I am a cyclist, even a tiny candy is a quick glucose high a tired body welcomes, especially when we bicycle strenuously since 5 am. And for that, perhaps we can keep a sugar candy near the house door. And water.
Ever since we began knowing such vendors better, who happened to become beneficiaries of our donors’ kindness, I keep two bottles of water and a steel glass outside my house’s two doors. So I have practiced successfully what I suggested here. We can randomly hand the sugar candy to our paper wala (or the fruit vendor …. Etc) personally at dawn or when he comes to collect his monthly fee, if we happen to be awake when/if the soft sound of the news falling outside our home door reaches our willing ears.
I asked Mahadev, who are his best customers, he replied, “.. the ones who offer me water…. And … this other person who sometimes offers me a snack, like, this man who called me inside his house and offered me a sweet snack that they had made that morning when I have happened to visit them to collect my monthly fee….”
From the millions of interactions of a person who is now 55, (20, 075 days of life) he clearly and instantly remembered two people specifically, with a twinkle of light in his eyes, and a twinkle of a smile on his lips replying to me. Moreover, at that moment, when he looked away in space for a brief second of eternity, sharing with us why those few people are his best customers, even I could see his customers in my mind’s eye even though only he was seeing them in his. Perhaps that’s the power of empathy. Empathy being the mother of kindness.
What can a ‘paper wala’ be proud of? I have asked this question to many of our beneficiary, and often I receive a common response. What is Mahadev very proud of?,…. He says he is very proud of his daughter, and his son, but especially his daughter as she is doing very well at school.
He was happy, but so are we, that his children harbor the virtue of valuing their education, for which her father pays for by delivering newspapers daily at dawn in the more than four seasons of Mumbai. Because doing well at school and later college can become the giant crane that will lift them high above her father’s unfortunate circumstances since childhood. Education is the stepping stone to life’s significant milestones.
Thank you Neelam, Sonia, and Karan Soorma, for donating this new bicycle to Mahadev; he contributed nearly half it’s cost, making him a more deserving beneficiary of your kindness.
Thank you Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) of Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) for the good service & discount.
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Beneficiaries of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1