“Our fathers, the first ‘Superman’ of our childhood; before we are introduced to Hollywood or Bollywood versions of Super-People.”
Surendra Kumar Nirmal. (24)
Dhobi (Laundry service)
Surendra is from UP; His father, is alive, and was a Dhobi too.
Surendra could not study beyond the 12th , because his father had a ‘drinking problem’ for many decades. His father’s ‘bad habit’ , stemmed not just Surendra’s education, but nearly affected his father’s livelihood too.
Seeing the family’s only reliable livelihood source (Dhobi) nearly crumbling, (agriculture being unreliable due to the variable and unpredictable moods of weather) ‘proactive’ Surendra left his studies midway, after his 12th, and came to Mumbai 8 years ago to earn a livelihood. He felt he should enter his father’s profession before they lose the fairly good clientele his father had built over many decades of sheer hard labor. He tried his hands at two jobs, but soon switched to his father’s profession.
Family’s do suffer, when their prime or any member is alcoholic; I asked Surendra about his biggest suffering due to his father’s ‘drinking habit’.
He replied : “My biggest suffering was not that I had to give up on my education because of my father’s alcoholism, but that people from my village would come and tell me on my face that my father has become nearly a ‘good for nothing’, he drinks all day and is neglecting his work, and some suggested I must take over his ‘Dhobi’ work before he ruins the clientele he himself built over years.
Hearing such things about my father, and seeing him nearly vegetate, sluggish, saddened me the most. The good thing was, he never ill treated us because of his alcoholism, but people saying such bad, but true, things about my father was my biggest and saddest suffering since childhood.’
As I soaked in a son’s hurt, it made me realize, our father’s are our first heroes. The first real ‘Superman’ of our childhood, much before Hollywood or Bollywood introduce to us their own versions of Super People from the figment of their writer’s and director’s imaginations.
And however young or old we are or get, we can never see our fathers without their self esteem, their dignity and their self respect intact. Nor can we bear to see them ill, and weak or fragile physically or emotionally. Indeed, Surendra must have suffered, I thought as he continued to share his hurt.
The good news: His father has reformed completely, given up alcohol, and cultivates the little land they have in the village. The better news: Surendra, though forced into this profession, he likes and enjoys his work. He has a younger sister who is in school, and his brother works in Dubai as a Tailor.
I asked Surendra, does he drink alcohol, or does he indulge in any other kind of ‘nasha’ (eg., Cigarette, Beedi, Beatle leaves-Paan, Tammbaku, Chillum, Ganja etc…)…?
nd his reply made me recollect something George Carlin ( of ‘When Will Jesus Bring The Pork Chops’) had said: “I think alcohol should not be sold without a label saying: "This drink (alcohol) can turn you into an asshole!” ;)
Surendra had told me, that because of his father’s drinking problem, Surendra has always stayed far away from any kind of ‘nasha’ that can make one lose his or her sense of duty, dignity and self respect.
Surendra is getting married next year, his wife is a graduate and is still studying. He is happy he has found a life partner more educated than himself. However, he is not comfortable if she works to earn a living, because he fears women who go to work, far from their village, face more possibility of suffering rape or molestation.
Though he likes his Dhobi profession, as it has given him a regular and fair income, Surendra has one regret: he wishes he had listened to his parents, when he was in the 12th , and continued his education. If he had graduated, he feels, he would have a better chance at life, a better career.
I will not stand in judgment on that. But, well, speaking of chance, education and livelihoods: “Far and away the best prize that life has to offer is the chance to work hard at work worth doing.” - Theodore Roosevelt.
And, I believe education is not necessarily important to achieve that; my own father was simply 7th Std. pass, and his work entertained and enlightened many. However, today….. education is imperative!
Thank you KS for donating this new bicycle to Surendra; Surendra contributed nearly 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 Surendra’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)