Monday, March 22, 2010

Raju Bhangarwala

It was raining from morning and the non-stop drizzle had almost put up a cork to Raju’s business. His tiny 13 years has seen a lot; a drunk father who never bothers to feed them, two younger sisters suffering utterly from malnutrition and a thinning mother. Raju silently understood it’s only him who could and have to save these three lives, if not four including his careless father. He was 11 years that time when he left his village which was at the remotest corner of Udaipur district in Rajasthan.

With the help of a distant relative, Raju reaches to corner of Mumbai and starts helping a guy who had a business of buying & selling of old newspapers. ‘Bhangarwala’ – is the most common name for these kind of businessmen in the city, Raju suddenly became ‘Raju Bhangarwala’ in the locality and his innocent smile hearing his new name showed that to some extent he enjoyed the designation.

After few weeks of sweating it out and been able to send few hundred rupees to those three starving stomachs, Raju was inspired enough to work harder. His tiny fingers used to swell in pain at night for carrying the heavy bundles of newspapers. Before going to bed every night, he used to put his fingers in cold water which used to give little relief and he could dream his mother & sisters could eat today, if not well-fed.

And then it all started; the infamous monsoon of Mumbai. The first night made Raju a refugee from the footpath where he used to sleep. Though he managed to get a place down below a staircase from the next night, but his business showed a steep downfall. No calls from customers, wet newspapers which are of no use, starts piling up. Raju broke down in his little shop one afternoon – it’s almost a month that he couldn’t send a single paisa to his mother & sisters. Tears keep on flowing, and with each drop of it, his soul became stronger and stronger…

Raju never plays at the nearby park, he doesn’t have any friend. Raju Bhangarwala only weighs the newspapers and a childhood gets lost within the folds of newspapers.

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