I have two walkman (now I don’t know if I should write ‘walkmen’!), in one of them there is both FM and audio casette player (but only the FM radio thing works) and so I keep the other one for listening to casettes and incidentally that doesnot have an FM so actually I need both of them.
I got my room painted today, the white wash was done a few days back and today the doors and the windows were painted. The guy who painted them is a 17 year old kid. I was just generally with chatting him and so asked him if he has been to a school ever. He proudly chuckled to say ‘higher secondary fail’… he had got burnt on that Diwali before exams and his whole face was damaged for which he could not study well. And then when I asked him if he continued studying after he recovered, he said no, he got married. I was aghast! He got married when he was just 11, that means he is married for the past 6 years. His wife is 16 years old now. I scolded him for marrying so early, he said had he not eloped with her she would have been married to somebody else. I was taken aback and shouted ’10 saal ki umra mein’. “Haan didji hamare wahan bahut chhoti umra mein shaadi ho jati hain”. I started cribbing about our social system, though din’t speak anything aloud. India shining but is it really?
After little bit of coaxing and making him comfortable to speak out more, he told me that he loves her like anything and can do anything for her. When he found out that she was being married to someone else, he decided to elope and never to return to his family as they had refused to accept her and so were her parents. He belongs to a village near Lucknow and has not gone back to his house there since marriage. I asked him if he had never contacted them since then and if he misses his parents. He replied in a melancholy tone that once his wife got too sick, he called up his parents to come to Delhi and look after her while he is out to work. But they just refused to talk to him properly, and he got no help from them. He told me “didiji, main us samay lagatar 10 din tak bhookha tha“. He admitted her to the hospital and to earn for the expenses he used to work day in and day out and saved all that he could save for her. He din’t sleep or eat so that he can get her cured. He admitted that it was a bit of his fault and bit hers that they din’t take care proper care of their health and so she fell ill.
I liked the responsiblty he feels towards her. He earns 100 per day as a daily wage earner through painting, so that roughly makes it 3000 in a month if he gets work on all days in the month, he spends 1500 for ration, 500 for miscellaneous including entertainment and saves 1000 so that they can have a kid. They do not have any issue as yet (thankfully I thought).
I was touched by his story, his love for her seems so pure. He is not careless, at this small age of 17 he is more responsible and sensible than I am probably.
He was rueing that he has been looking for a music system for her, he had got one also in 200 bucks but it conked out too early. He asked me if I can get something for him till he is here in the hostel with this contrat, he said he will pay me for it. “Didiji aaplog jayenge to achcha maal dega jo jaldi kharab nahi hoga”. I bursted out laughing. He had finished off painting my doors and windows and was about to leave.
I gave me the walkman I had with the audio casette player and said that I generally only listen to FM and so I don’t need it that much and he can keep it. He asked me how much should he pay me for it. I smiled and told him “Nothing, it’s for her from me! May God bless you!”