Finding peace in hard-earned money (Vijay Bahadur)
In the Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh, 7-year old Vijay Bahadur
would travel with his father to the capital city of Lucknow on a
bullock cart where they’d sell hay. One tragic day, while his father was busy selling hay he did not realize when his son unknowingly slipped off while
playing around. Upon realizing that Vijay was nowhere to be found, his father frantically started searching for him, and at the end of the day, when the child wasn’t found, he had to give
up and head home disappointed.
Later, when little Vijay realised that he had come far away and his father was nowhere around, he started searching for his father but despite searching a lot, there was no hope. He cried for hours sitting on a pavement, but to no avail. As the night was falling, his young mind was gripped by panic. Meanwhile, upom feeling very hungry, he spotted a temple where food was being served to the needy.
Helpless, he too joined the queue. Little did he know that this would be his fate for the next 35 years ahead. Neither did he know the he would be forced to beg and spend his days on the footpath.
But today, things have changed for Vijay Bahadur. No longer does he
have to resort to begging or standing in queues at temples for food.
Today, he is still working hard, but with a sense of dignity and self
respect. 42- year old Vijay Bahadur has left behind his life as a
beggar and now pulls a rickshaw for a living.
“That day I unknowingly drifted away from my father’s bullock cart
and eventually lost my way. I could never find my father again. I
started eating free food distributed at temples. I waited day and
night in the hope that someone would come to fetch me, but I never saw
my family since. Unable to find work for a living, I had to resort to
begging,” says Bahadur, clearly emotional in his tone.
Looking at his rickshaw, Vijay says, “Today I work hard all day and
manage to earn Rs. 150 a day. Gone are the days when I had to stand in
queues at temples to get something to eat. I used to hear taunts that
in spite of being young, this useless fellow is begging around. Last
year, a helpful gentleman inspired and encouraged me to earn my living,
thus I pull a rickshaw now. Since I earn my own money, I can live with my
head held high in the society.”
Vijay Bahadur sometimes blames it on his own destiny for his misfortune
and sometimes his family members. Recalling the gloomy days, he says,
“I did not get a home and family during childhood and did not even get
good upbringing.” Due to lack of education and skills, he became a
beggar. People threw him money and he started getting used to it. He
was even forced to get into consuming intoxicants as he was surrounded
by bad company.
He goes on to say “I didn’t get good nourishment since the age of seven, and that is showing its effects now. Pulling a rickshaw takes a heavy toll on my body, but it is better to earn with dignity than to stand for hours in want of
food. During the day, I do not find many riders so I ferry some
children to and from school. That fetches me Rs 1500 a month, enough
to buy my meals.”
Vijay Bahadur is not the first person who left begging to start a
life of dignity. Just like Vijay, there are around 209 others who used to beg for a living, but now they fulfill their needs with hard earned money of
their own. Today, Vijay is living a much better life with his two