Clad in a red check shirt, blue pants, folded; a pair of chappals… that is how he has always been seen: this is his everyday attire, his uniform to work. That is Mr. Harish Chand Gupta, a local rickshaw puller. Slim, with average height, a thick moustache and lines of experience etched on his prematurely matured face, he looks older than his 21 years. Originally belonging to a small village called Supol in
Born to a well-to-do family, Harish has two sisters and two brothers, apart from his parents in his family. His father commanded a good position in a private organisation, earning about Rs.15000 per month, when he got entangled in a murder conspiracy and lost his job. Since then the family has been forced to resort to farming to sustain itself. His sisters are happily married and settled with husband and kids. His elder brother has a business of his own while the younger one operates an atta chakki.
Harish’s childhood was eventless, yet full of fun and frolic… playing without any worries, studying, hanging out with friends without a care for the world… no responsibilities, nothing. Such was life till class Six, when it became evident o him that life is not going to e as smooth as before. Seeing the increasing financial burden on his parents and the dismal returns on their flood-affected land, Harish decided o quit studying and leave his village in search of a better life.
And this is how he ended up in
Apart from pulling his rickshaw, he also alternates as a keeper in a nearby bookstore. In total he manages to earn about Rs. 4000 per month. Of this he spends Rs. 2500 on rent, food and other expenses; and manages to send home Rs. 1500. On a typical day, he wakes up at 5:30 am, gets ready, works from 7-9 am, has breakfast and takes rest, gets back to work till lunchtime at 2 pm, rests some more after lunch, opens the bookstore around 4 pm, cleans it and arranges everything, then back to his rickshaw, working till about 9 in the night, when he comes home, cooks and has dinner and retires for the day. He lives all alone, cooks, washes etc. all by himself, with no one to take care of him. He has no social life, no friends, and no entertainment… not even a television or radio. Such is his life, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
Is he happy? He says: “Life is currently okay. I do not particularly enjoy it, but do not mind it either. I plan to make it better. I want to make enough money to be able to buy some land of my own to build a house and cultivate a small farm. For that I am learning how to drive a taxi, to start a taxi service of my own.”
Doesn’t he dislike being alone? Wouldn’t he like a life partner, to take care of him and support him in all his endeavours? He quips: “I do not want to get married just yet. My parents and after my life to ‘settle down’, but I want to have my own house and enough money to sustain a family comfortable before I marry.” Marriage and settling down, apparently is a touchy issue for him, due to heartbreak in the past. Some time ago, he fell in love with a girl who did not reciprocate his feelings. Since then he has been quite forlorn and has stopped believing in love.
His happiest moment?
“The life is led as a child, amongst my family and friends: no troubles or worries… only lots of love and fun!”
His saddest moment?
“When my loved on refused my proposal and broke my heart.”
His moment of regret?
“I should not have quit my studies and left my village so soon. Had I stayed on, maybe I would have been much better off right now…”
His proudest moment?
“When I bought a small radio for my parents from my first salary!”
All in all, life for Harish has been full of hardships, struggle and sacrifice; but he still goes on, determined to fulfil his dreams.
His parting words?
“All I want to say to everyone is that one should study and work hard, get a good job, house and family; and take good care of them all… strive to achieve your goals, believe in yourself, don’t give up, and be a good human being.”
With this, and a twinkle in his eyes, a dream in his heart and a song on his lips, he rushes off, beckoned by a prospective customer, and pedals away into his future!