85th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “I will never find my father in any other man ….”
Bharatlal Gupta. (30 +)
Bharatlal is from UP. He arrived in Mumbai a few years ago. He has been a vegetables vendor (he sells them from a hired four-wheel hand-pushed cart) since three years. He operates at carter road, daily at 7 am.
Before becoming a vegetables vendor he was a bananas-vendor. He would pile the bananas into a ‘tokri’ (basket), and carry it on his head, travelling from street to street selling them in the Bandra west area.
However, a leg injury (caused by an accident) stemmed this mode of livelihood; his injured leg could no longer bear the weight of the ‘banana tokri’ on himself. The injury continues to trouble him even today, when he walks long distances even without any additional weight on him.
We hope this injury does not become a legend, for him, like those ‘legends’ so many of us carry within - scars that never heal. However, sadly, I was soon to discover Bharatlal was carrying one such legend within.
Bharatlal needed a bicycle as his customers often tell him – ”…‘jaldi bhejo, abhi bhejo, late hoiga to humara order cancel’ (send my order QUICKLY! NOW!!)” This bicycle will help him deliver orders faster, and thus help his business grow.
Bharatlal’s family, back in the village, are cultivators of land. They own a small amount of land on which they grow grains. However, the income from agriculture was not enough to sustain them, so he decided to migrate to Mumbai a few years ago to earn a livelihood.
Bharatlal has one daughter and two sons, they go to school. His mother lives with them. His father is/was a farmer.
Bharatlal’s father, who was mentally unstable, disappeared suddenly one day, 13 years ago, and until today he remains unfound!
For Bharatlal, and his family, his father’s disappearance is a complete mystery! They have many theories what may have happened to him, but alas, no proof, nor a body has been found that can be laid to rest with the rituals of our earthly-impermanence.
As he told me about his and his family’s various theories of what may have happened to his missing father, I thought to myself, ‘what is the value of the mystery behind our Universe, that behind the origins of man and God, that behind the pursuit of happiness, that behind why our loved one did not return our missed calls, compared to some deeply profound mysteries many people suffer, endure - the disappearance of your father! Of a parent! Of a loved one!
Our father being among the handful of ‘firsts’, those super-special people we not only FIRST open our eyes to, but someone with whom we first engage all our senses. For him, someone that special, to just leave, to sail away without a goodbye, to travel without sharing with us his last poem, to bounce without a hand shake or a hug, however feeble, crushed me!
(Not that my own father left had us like that, I was fortunate that I could say my goodbyes to him; well, we almost could, because my younger sister could arrive to ‘see’ him only after he had already embarked on his eternal travel. How she must feel, I have sometimes sadly wondered.)
I asked Bharatlal, how would he react, what would he think, if someday, hopefully ONE FINE DAY, he accidentally runs into his father!, right here in Mumbai, or his father returns home back in the village; returns as mysteriously as he disappeared 13 years go!?
I was soon to realizes just then, that by asking him this, I had unknowingly opened the floodgates of a reservoir that was waiting or wanting to share her burden with the rivers downstream.
On hearing this ‘possibility’, maybe ‘a dream come true’ , maybe nothing less than a miracle, a wish, a need, maybe a prayer from his soul, silvery pearls escaped from Bharatlal’s eyes. Those delicate pearls which we wish never escape from the cage of our emotions, especially in front of a stranger, because I was one to him. I had met Bharatlal randomly on the street!
Bharatlal quickly composed himself and replied to me, with bright, ‘hopeful’, eyes - ‘The day that happens, that is the day for me the God I heard of, the one I pray to, the one I am told is benevolent, will have appeared just for me! That for me will be nothing less than God in my father’s body.”
I recollect now, what actress Halle Berry had once said - I know that I will never find my father in any other man, how much ever he love me truly, because it is a void in my life that can only be filled by him, my father.
Thank you to Ashiesh Shah for donating this new bicycle to vegetables vendor Bharatlal. (Bharatlal contributed nearly half towards the cost of the same.)
This bicycle donation from Ashiesh is actually a birthday gift he wants to dedicate to his dear friend Bharat; as its Bharat’s B’day on Oct 2nd.
Ashiesh was pleasantly surprised at the sheer coincidence, that the person he happened to donate the bike to is named ‘Bharat’lal, a namesake of his own dear pal Bharat! Strange are the ways of our world, I say, and even stranger is kindness and empathy. We can never know whom they will choose to flow to. We just have to keep the floodgates of our hearts open to not only share them, but to receive them too.
I must add, I accepted Ashiesh’s donation after he reminded me at least twice or thrice, over a couple of months, when can he send me his contribution. For me, his voluntary perseverance was not just a sign of his sincerity towards the common cause of the donors of Bicycle Angels (provide a helping arm, and not alms) but also a shining reflection of his own empathetic core, and his value of making a commitment to someone.
Furthermore, it’s yet another coincidence that I could accept Ashiesh’s contribution only on the eve of his pal’s Bday! Because, the sheer timing of the exchange gave Ashiesh the idea of dedicating his humble donation to his pal on his special day. “Happy Bday dear Bharat!!!” from Ashiesh and all friends dear to you; you are loved!”
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.
Thank you to Gazi for Bharatlal’s pic with the bike.
(PS - Rs 2500 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. J)