Dreams are touch and go for people who toil with blood and sweat day and night. They can break like fragile glass and the next moment can burn bright again as a newly formed wax candle.
Enjoy Morning Meanderings with a hot cup of tea or coffee and some cookies to munch on the food for thought. 😊 ☕️
One more humid morning dawned on a parched Jaipur, and not a leaf stirred, but the people were up and about, the sleep kinks still refusing to leave their eyes. I was seeing the tea vendor after a pretty long time and he looked woebegone. Usually his wife and three kids would be there, the infant snugly lying inside the kiosk, and the boy and girl romping in the dust, running, chasing each other in bursts of rambunctious fun. I recalled the last time I had seen him, strutting around in the uniform of a security guard, dreams rippling in his eyes – dreams for his three kids and wife. Now, he had a hollow-eyed look, and it appeared as if the dreams had been gouged out of his eyes by cruel fate.
“You had been employed as a security guard in that new building coming up,
what happened? Not working there any longer?” I asked.
His expression made me want to go up to him and hug him. He looked so sad.
“Well….” he groped for words, but the words wouldn’t come.
“What happened?” I prodded.
“Actually, first they made me a security guard, then later said, I was too weak to be a security guard, and anyone could bash me up, so I was back to being a labourer. As luck would have it, I fell from the second floor while working and my back was injured.”
“Oh, yeh to bura hua.” (Oh, that’s bad.)
“Yes, madam ji. First the builder had said he would give me money for my treatment, but he just threw me out of the job giving me a paltry thousand rupees. ”
“I spent quite a lot of money on my treatment,” he said ruefully.
I suddenly noticed his motorbike was missing.
“My motorcycle was a second hand one, I had to sell it off,” he remarked as if, reading the question in my eyes.
“This builder is taking the people for a ride. The material he is using in this building is the cheapest in the market. I am going to reveal this to all the people who come asking about these apartments,” He said with a vindictive frown.
“Is your family not coming today?” I was curious to know as I really loved playing with his kids.
“They will come after my wife has bathed the kids and prepared lunch.”
Then with almost dead eyes, and a hand supporting his back, he went back to the business of living.
“Yeh jeena bhi koi jeen hai, Lallu.” This line by Amitabh Bachchan in Mr Natwarlal flashed in my mind as I saw a group of noisy joggers, heading towards the improvised stools in front of his kiosk, and ordered tea for six people.
Suddenly, I noticed a glitter in his eyes – a glitter of new hopes taking birth, and life seemed to creep back into those dreamless eyes. I glimpsed a colourfully attired group coming in our direction. He saw the group too, and quickly pouring six cups of tea, he ran towards them.
It was his family, all scrubbed and ready for the day. He scooped up the toddler in his arms, kissing him on both cheeks, while the daughter clung to his legs, and the boy picked up a stick and started swinging it in the air.
There was another group of joggers heading towards him from another direction. He handed over the toddler back to his wife, and headed towards the stove.
The dreams in his eyes had found a voice now, and I could hear them talking to him. He would live for another day.
I walked on, eyes fixed on the antics of a canny crow closing in around an edible morsel lying outside the kiosk, and the two kids clapping, for some particular reason only they could understand.
(Picture: Santosh Bakaya)
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