My name is Jitesh. Currently I am pursuing MBA at NMIMS, Mumbai. I am a qualified engineer and have two years of work experience in a MNC. My brother Manish is a Civil Engineer currently working with a leading Real Estate Construction Company in India. Life has thrown us a lemon and we have developed this knack of making a lemonade out of it.
My father was born into a family of six brothers and two sisters. The family was devoted to trading. While they were never very rich, they never lacked anything. My parents were married in 1989. Like all newly-wed couple, they too went for their honeymoon. They returned after 15 days to find that the house has been split. There was sugar but no tea leaves, there was lentils but no rice. They were not given their share of property or cash. They occupied their small portion of the house. You can say that their life was turned upside down in an instant.
My parents decided to sell the gold locket gifted by my Grand Ma. That fetched Rs. 5000/-. Dad borrowed another Rs.2500/- from his friends and Grand Father. He left for Delhi to gain first-hand experience in automotive/car batteries at his brother-in-law’s shop. He purchased auto goods worth Rs. 7000/- while returning. He returned home but the goods, for some reason, did not reach him for two months. Firstly, the consignment was delayed in transit and then it was held at the transport office as my Father did not have enough money to get them released. Shyam, my Father’s nephew, who is no more now, helped to have the consignment released. My Father started selling the goods and earned a profit of Rs.700/- the first day. He continued selling and investing his money in buying additional auto parts and re-selling them. And the cycle continued. From the initial running around, he bought a small shop and then a bigger one.
I was born in 1991 and Manish in 1993. My parents eagerly looked forward to the future thinking that all troubles were past them. However, the bickering brothers of my father dragged him into family feud. Grand Ma was bed-ridden. She passed away followed by one of his brothers and then the patriarch of the family, our Grand Father.
My father built a bungalow by spending lavish money on it. And then the downfall started. The business was going down and the financial stress was on its way up.
Manish and I were in school then. We were meritorious students and were rank holders. Such was our condition that my parents were not able to pay our fees from Class VI to X. The teachers loved us and we received their support. There is one incident which will forever remain etched in my mind. While I was in Class VI, during our final exams, my headmaster ordered for Rs.100/-! Otherwise he won’t promote me to class VII. For us, Rs.100/- was big money at that time. But my future was precious too. We borrowed the money from our neighbours to pay him. Looking back, I feel that he too had a family to manage and the paltry salary may not have been enough. The same teacher taught me for free when I was in Class X. Today, whenever I visit him, I touch his feet and he embraces me saying that he is so proud of me. Just before the Class X exams, my Father sold the shop and paid Rs. 50,000/- to the school against the unpaid fees.
I went on to pass my Class X and XII exams well. I graduated in Engineering. During my internship, we shifted to Pune. My father had to work in a company. To make both ends meet, I used to check the exam papers of Class X-XII and was paid Rs.4 per 10 paper. It was tough time but all of us were focused. And in June, I joined an MNC in the Operations Department at Aurangabad. That brought a relief to the entire family.
In the meantime, Manish also graduated from the Engineering College and joined a real estate construction company. He was to be based out of Mumbai. For the first time, my parents were spoilt for choice. Where to stay? They did not want to stay at Aurangabad as it was too hot. So, we decided that they should move to Mumbai.
I completed two years at Aurangabad and realized that I should get myself another degree. So, I gave up the job and spent day and night preparing for competitive exams. Now, I am at NMIMS. Manish has recently changed jobs and his salary is higher than before. Father purchases auto-parts and resells them at the various garages. Ma too contributes by stitching clothes and selling various kinds of juices. Once I complete my MBA and get a well-paying job, Manish will then pursue his higher studies.
Manish and I wish to provide the best comforts to our parents when both of us are settled. And a beautiful home in Mumbai.
***As told to Coena Mukherjee