I met a guy named Bilal couple of days ago. I had hired him as a carpenter for fixing up some stuff while shifting to my new apartment. Here is his story. Have a good read.
Bilal hails from a small village on the outskirts of Giridih district, now a part of Jharkhand. He is a carpenter, a profession and skills he inherited from his maternal grandfather. All of 22 years, Bilal too is a migrant in Mumbai.
Little over 3 and half years ago, Bilal came to Pune, Maharashtra for the first time. In his small town , he had heard about the IT boom in the city. He dreamt of capitalizing on the opportunities he thought existed and set a foot here. However, struggling to cope up with the local language, bad work and home sickness meant he was back to Giridih within 6 months. But as they say, dreams never die. An opportunity and luck brought Bilal back to Mumbai, the land of dreams. Its been 3 years since he came here and has never looked back.
Bilal used to work with a furniture shop in Goregaon earlier. But for 1 year, he has developed enough contacts to start working on his own. He went back to his town only twice. Once for his first Diwali and then last year when his mother died of recurring sickness. His face sulked when he shared this to me. He believed if he had enough money, he could have taken his mother to a big hospital in Patna or Lucknow and saved her. So he decided to quit his job and start on his own after coming back.
BIlal’s father workes in a school as a chaprasi (house keeper). He was studying in the same shcool but had to leave after VIII as his father needed economical support. He has a younger sister who too left studies after HSC (XII) and a younger brother, who now is in his VIII. His mother wanted all three to be educated and become white collar employees. He, however, has sacrificed that dream.
Bilal knows nothing about the communal hatred, and he doesn’t care to know either. He has seen enough of it in adjoining villages of Bihar. However he was warned against getting into dodgy situations with locals and policemen as soon as he came to Mumbai. He is a Muslim, a Bihari and a migrant. The combination couldn’t have been worse for him. It also made him change his name from Bilal to Babloo for the professional purpose. He stays in a Muslim dominated locality in Jogeshwari (E) where he shares a room with two others, also from Bihar. One is a taxi driver and other works with him.
Bilal didn’t know much about Raj Thackeray till february this year. He was working for a lady in Matunga, carving a sofa set. But the lady’s husband was connected to politics and feared Bilal’s presence would hamper him. He was paid little amount and asked to leave. He feels he was lucky not to get beaten up, unlike some others he knows. He has made attempts at learning marathi and speaks some broken sentences too. He is obviously upset at the shody treatment given to people from his state. But he is helpless. He retorts at the government saying they just want to squeeze people so that they can be rich. His exact words words were, “Mazhab ke naam pe maa C**** hai saale. Sab ke sab harami hai.”
Bilal wants to marry his sister in a wealthy family in Lucknow and fund his brother’s education. He wants his brother to study engineering. He wants to buy a house in Giridih, put an easy chair in the porch and let his father sit and read early morning news paper. I asked him what he wanted to do for himself. He kept mum. He still mourns the death of his mother and said there were more important things to do in life today. Whatever they may be, he has got dreams and he has the will to fulfil it… like most of us sitting in the offices or homes, reading this and calling each others ‘a bihari’ or ‘a marathi’ or ‘a gujrathi’.
61 years after India became independent, it is really sad that we still have regional boundaries as a cause of hatred amongst us. Its time we become ‘we’ in true sense.