87th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : “Prayer is the longing of the soul.”
Dedaram Chaudhary. (25)
Dedaram is from Rajasthan. His family still owns some quantity of agriculture land, which they cultivate. But the rain in that region being scanty and unreliable does not guarantee nor provide farmers a reliable nor secure livelihood, thus forcing many from his region to migrate to cities near and far.
Dedaram arrived in Mumbai in 2008 lead by his father, who was a milkman too. His father has since retired and returned to their village to cultivate their ancestral land. Incidentally, his father in law, Shivdhan, is a milkman too, and we had donated a new bicycle to him.
I happened to see Dedaram ride a dilapidated bicycle near Almeida Park, on his route delivering milk. It was raining heavily and he was riding without any protection, just like me; ‘we both have at least this in common’, is what I thought seeing him too drenched on his bicycle.
Dedaram did not study after the 10th Std because he failed to pass in spite of two attempts, and thereafter he lost interest in education. He got married four months ago, his wife is studying in college. His brother is studying too, and both his sisters are married.
Dedaram dreams of someday soon returning to his village and cultivating his land. His father purchased a tractor two years ago, so whenever he returns to his village he drives the tractor to help his father.
Something in his tone made me feel Dedaram feels a sense of loss having left his village, and he still feels lost in this city, even though he has been here since 6 years and his hands are blessed to have found work too.
I don’t know in what context Julius Caesar said this, but I remember what he once said - “I rather be first in my village than be second in Rome.’
Dedaram went on to confess he does not like living in Mumbai, and misses his village, and most importantly, he misses his mother. He still thinks of her at least twice a day!
He told me ‘Maa ka pyaar yaad aata hai. And when I was younger, whenever I did something wrong and if my father would beat me, it is my mother who would block him, by standing between us. She always protected me.
The most mischievous thing I have done, for which my father would beat me, is, I loved cricket and so I would run away from class to play cricket. I would even scale the school wall to play cricket, or watch the Indian Army military exercises nearby, at the Indo-Pak border, while school was on!’
I asked him if he prays to God, or prays to his parents, his mother, considering how much he loves her and thinks of her twice a day.
Dedaram replied – My parents are alive now, so I pray to God. Someday they will be no more, then I will pray to them. Because then they will be my Gods.’
I remember a conversation I had with P, a good friend, long after my father had sailed away. We were discussing my experience of lately meeting many people who had lost a parent/s, they had begun praying to the departed soul/s. She had lost her father when she was a teen. So I asked her what could be the reason behind why people pray to their departed parent/s, and some like me pray less to our Holy Gods and more to our departed parents.
She had said – ‘The ‘Gods we have been praying to, since childhood, the ones from our Holy books, we have really never ‘known’, we have never seen or touched that ‘God’. Whereas our parent/s, they are those Gods whose firm yet warm grasp we reached out for, whose eyes cried for us looking into our own wet ones, whose lips smiled along with our happy ones, in their bear and bull hugs we felt we will conquer not only our fears but the world too, and whose smell still remains most fresh amongst our most-fragrant of memories, hence we subconsciously begin to pray to them as they truly are the Gods we have really ourselves ‘known’.
There is one more reason. It is Mahatma Gandhi, I think, who had said - ‘Prayer has nothing to do with God nor religion. Prayer is but a longing of the soul.’
Thank you to Meghna Rodrigues and family for purchasing this bicycle for Dedaram. He contributed more than half towards its cost.
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 sending me Dedaram’s pic with the bike.
(PS - Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. J)