After my admission into NIT Silchar, it was not a surprise to find an old frail man, barely lifting two sackfuls of commodities and roaming around the hostels each and every morning. He was old, quite appreciably tired. His face resembled that typical grandfather look, who would relax in his home, discuss fairy tales with his grandchildren and wait for his son or daughter to return from their workplace.
But this very person was different. He had a different story, a contrasting story from our default thinking that represents our modern society.
We call him “Daddu” as we were unaware of his name. We never attempted to know that, as it was against the norms of etiquette and courtesy.
He is a vendor in Silchar, a populous town situated in Assam. It was a common sight for the hostellers to find him roaming here and there, from ground floor to the second floor, from this wing to that wing, shouting loud only these words-
” Singra, Boil Anda, Khaja, Kola”, – meaning “Snacks, Boiled eggs, Sweets, Bananas”.
Often at the doorway, when he used to encounter me or the hundreds of other students like me, he would greet us with a gentle smile aiming at his alleged customers.
“Lagbe ni Dada, Khabe?” (Do you want it, mister, would you take it?”)
It was an ordinary day and I pledged that I would talk with him on that very day. In no time, he veered to our wing. Due to my command over the Bengali language (which is so far the only language that he could speak), I took no time to start our conversation. From that day, my impression on him was not the same as before.
He had been a vendor for 25 years. He lives in a place, which is situated nearly an hour or so from our college.
I was completely at a loss when he told me that his only son committed suicide years ago. He was alone, he was helpless. Poverty, unemployment aren’t they some of the concrete reasons to compel young men to sacrifice their lives and escape from the harsh reality?
But that never stopped Daddu from going ahead. He continued his work, with even more zeal. He traveled a lot longer from his place, trodden along graveled roads and drains to sell his commodities.
Thus, he held the marriage of his daughters. His tired eyes almost thrived with tears when he told me that even he had some dreams once upon a time. He dreamt of a happy family of him, with his son and daughters together. Although, that dream of him is shattered, but not his determination.
Even at this age, he would mount on a rickshaw with his two heavy sacks in the early morning. He would land in our college premises and would tread through each and every hostels, floors and wing and potentially shout “Singra, Boil Anda, Khaja, Kola “. He would continue that till dusk. Poverty had dealt him several assaults but that never made him give up. From scorching summer days to shivering cold days, Daddu will continue his expedition. Although his earnings were in the pink for a while, his will-power was not.
At this point, it’s a moment of immense pride to announce that our seniors have started collecting fund for him. He is provided with financial support from the students. Even the passed out students help him via money transfer.
Nowadays, when we see Daddu, we will rush to him and buy snacks and bananas from him, even if we had no interests in them. I still remember, when he informed me with a grinned face that some of the students celebrated his birthday and offered him a feast.
A person like Daddu surely symbolizes “He is a Sackful Of Inspiration” and you are never too old to do your own task and fulfill your families basic needs. It’s never a barricade to our dreams; it’s never an excuse to surrender.