I remember the days when I was struggling to get a job in Mumbai. When finally I got the job of a cart puller at the railway station, I was quite happy with it. So many people, so much colours, the mayhem, the chaos and yet within all of that, a strange rhythm that connected all.
Coming from a small town with no education and surviving on our own was not that easy a task during those days. By “those days” I mean some twenty or twenty two years that had passed in between. I picked up my new routine with glee. It was hectic and tiresome, but it got me an opportunity to meet lots of new people and it brought me food. I learnt how to deal with people, to impress them and I also learnt those little tricks that would not allow them to forget me in a while.
Days went by at their own pace. After some time I quit the job and decided to start my own business. I started a small tea stall near the railway station. My stall was set abuzz right from day one. I had made many friends by then. Those who had met me once, now recognized my face and smiled back whenever they spotted me. The stall was a perfect spot for them to stand and unwind, especially after a long hard day, over countless cups of tea.
I worked hard with all my heart and soul into it, day and night.
Three decades passed since then. The little tea stall is a good three star hotel now. But the only difference is, it’s no longer mine! After getting at a certain age when I felt that I may not be able to put my hundred percent into work, I decided to retire and hand over the business to my only beloved son. But little did I know that my relationships were far more fragile than my possessions. I was cheated and disappointed by my very own blood.
For days I cursed myself for birthing the son who didn’t hesitate to commit a fraud against his father. I was aghast and felt miserable. I doubted my upbringing. I questioned my integrity, hopelessly groping for one such incompetence which failed me as a parent. But time heals a lot. After almost 50 years I am still here, outside a railway station, asking for the job…. again.
As told to Akshay Peddiwar