“Money earned from hard work gives peace to the mind” – Rajan

When Rajan of Unnao district of Uttar Pradesh was seven years old, he came to Lucknow with his father in a bullock cart. While his father was selling straws and dealing with customers he kept himself busy by playing some games. He got so engrossed in games that he lost track of time and place. He was nowhere near to his father. There are possibilities that his father kept searching for him and left for his village after getting tired and hopeless.

When Rajan lost interest in games, he diverted his attention and began searching for his father. But despite searching a lot, when he could not find him, he started crying loudly. As the night was falling, his mind was soaring with nervousness. He felt scared and lonely. Soon he was very hungry while searching for his father; his eyes caught sight of a temple where food was being distributed. Without thinking twice he rushed and got into the line. At that time, Rajan had the least idea that this was just the beginning of his misery. He has spent 35 years of his life begging in temples to fill his stomach and spent his nights on footpaths. But today the same Rajan does not stand in the queue of the temple to eat food while does not spread his hands in front of others for alms. He has come out of the compulsion which gave him the name beggar, now he is a laborer and not a beggar. Today, Rajan may not have had a smile on his face but there was a peace that was quite visible. After begging for 35 years in his life, he now plies the peddle rickshaw all day to fill his stomach.

“While playing I went far away from my bullock cart, I do not know whether my father searched for me or not. When the night fell, I got hungry and while searching for food I came near a temple. I ate the food that was being distributed there and spent the night outside the temple.” Saying this, Rajan became emotional, “I used to sit outside the temple every morning in the hope that someone would come to take me back to my home. Several months passed waiting like that but my family did not come. I was small, could not do any work to earn, so it was a compulsion to beg.”

Showing his rickshaw, Rajan says, “Throughout the day I work hard and earn 150-200 rupees, I eat in relief from my hard-earned money, earlier I had to stand in line for hours and get pushed by others for food. People used to say that he is young, yet he begs, hearing this made me feel bad. I wanted to quit begging but no one ever showed the path. Since last year, because of this bhaiya’s encouragement, I have started driving a pedal rickshaw. Now, my mind is at peace because I eat food from my hard-earned money.” 

Rajan curses himself and sometimes his family members for his begging. Recalling his days of begging, he says, “I did not have my family and their care in childhood that’s why I became a beggar. People gave money by throwing it, which I used to consume intoxicants. Never got good company, no one stopped and in the company of friends from the temple I became a drug addict.” Rajan says, “From the age of seven, I did not get good food, I would fill my stomach with whatever leftover food I got. That’s why now my body doesn’t have the strength to pull a rickshaw, but it is better than begging, I work enough to get two meals a day.” He further explains, “During the daytime, there are not many commuters, so I give pick and drop to some children to their school which gives me a monthly income of 1500 rupees. I earn enough to feed my stomach during the day. “

Rajan is not the first person who has quit begging and started rickshaw pulling, there are 209 such people who begged for many years in their life but now they are doing some work to fill their stomachs. Today Rajan is leading a harmonious life with his two children and mother.