This conversation happened with me last Friday when I was travelling from Dalsinghsarai (my hometown) to Rosera. I was sitting on the aisle seat of the bus and the bus was overcrowded as all the buses running in and around my area are. And then at some village stop, the person sitting near me, i.e. the one sitting on the middle seat, got off the bus. And at the same time an old lady got into the bus with her bag full of something and which looked very heavy. Since she could not get inside with that seat, she asked me to shift to the middle seat. Without thinking even for a second I did that. After some time I took my hands on my right pocket to make sure my mobile phones are there intact (Thanks to a lot of travels in Delhi Metro, I have got into the habit of checking for my wallet and cell phone whenever I am in a crowded area). And at this time the person (Let’s call him Mr Window) occupying the window seat speaks:
Mr Window: Hum nachne gaane wale log hain. Aisa kaam nahi karenge. Aisa kaam karenge to hamara program dekhega koi stage par? (We are the people who dance and sing. We won’t do suck work. If we do this thing, would anyone watch my program on stage.)
Me (after being quiet for a moment and feeling embarassed): Achcha, kya kaam karte hain aap? (So what do you do?)
Mr Window: Ladies ka kaam karte hain stage par. Gaana gaate hain program me. (I work as a lady. I sing on stage during programs.)
Me: Kahan se hain aap? (Where are you from?)
Mr Window: Waise to hum Deoria me rehte hain, par abhi Rosera ja rahe hain program karne. (Though I live in Deoria but I am going to Rosera now for a program)
Me: Ghar Dalsinghsarai hai kya? (Your hometown is Dalsinghsarai?)
Mr Window: Nahi, Dalsinghsarai hamara nanihaal hai. Kabhi kabhi aate hain yahan pe. (No, My maternal uncles and grandparents live in Dalsinghsarai. I come here sometimes.)
Me: Kahan se seekhe gaana? (where did you learn singing?)
Mr Window: Ye to Saraswati ka aashirwad hai. Ghar pe hi seekhe. Mere pitaji mere guru hain. Pitaji bhi yahi kaam karte the. Ab wo nahi karte, sirf gate pe baithte hain program k time. (This is the blessing of Goddess Saraswati, the Goddess of Learning. My father is my teacher. He used to do the same thing. Now he doesn’t do it, only sits at the gate during a program. )
Me: 1 program karne ka kitna paisa mil jata hai? (How much do you earn from one program?)
Mr Window: 850 milta hai humko 1 program karne ka. (Rs 850 for 1 Program.)
Me: Aur mahine me kitne din program karte hain? (How many programs do you do in a month?)
Mr Window: Arey 1 bhi din khali nahi milta hai. (I don’t get rest even for a day.)
And then to keep the conversation going, I talked to him about SPIC MACAY IIT Roorkee Chapter, and talked about a few artists who had visited our college. Though he said, he knew them but I think he didn’t. Or maybe he did. But what make me think are the following points:
- The person earns almost 25k a month. Why did he have that tone as if he was having some kind of inferiority complex?
- He called his singing ‘Saraswati ka aashirwad’. So, why did he term it as ‘ladies ka kaam’ as if it was some very mean work?
- And if money is everything (as I see by the attitude of people around me), what is wrong with doing this work even that people like him have to feel infereior?
And I am still thinking!!