Mee Migrant-kar

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.


22 thoughts on “Mee Migrant-kar

  1. When will you be ready? People are already aware and busy minding their own business. Everyone else, just like you, is not ready yet. So what’s the point in making people aware?

  2. Thats my contribution. Starting some where is indeed necessary. Instead of poking at people I choose to tell them what is wrong and what needs to be done. They already know but how many dare to speak out?

    Sadly I’m still in the ‘common man’ mould, busy with the ‘routine’ Sadly, we all are the same. Thats the irony.

  3. Sorry for sounding bitter K, but it’s something that I had written on your blog as well… if I demand better medical treatments, do I need to become a doctor first?

  4. @Big K: I I’m not taking it personally. Just that you always tend to misunderstand my views. By the way, we don’t need a ‘Shivaji’ today. We need a population of common men committed to the country, unperturbed by regional biases and fool hardy politicians.

    @Amit: Thanks for the views. Through this story I merely wanted to convey a message. Its really harsh to call a person ‘a migrant’ in his own country. People travel places in search of opportunities and better life. Some local losing a job once in a while is just a by product of their largely self centered life… understandably so.

  5. @ Amit –

    Oh not at all bitter, friend. I always appreciate your views. If you demand better medical treatments and you aren’t getting them and you strongly feel that better doctors can change the system,

    Then yes, be the doctor!

    @ Mayur : Population of common men committed to the country? Reverie?

    The bitter truth is that common man does not care about the country. All (s)he needs a good government and that ‘someone’ who will change their fate. Just like you want politicians to become sane and solve all the problems.

    Be the change you want to see.

  6. @K

    So unless I study medicine and become a doctor, I do not have a right to demand good medical services? What if I am not interested in medicine and want to become a pilot instead? Or maybe a painter? Do painters lose the right to proper medical services because they are not interested in medicine?
    What about Bilal? He neither had the means nor the intent of becoming a doctor. So if he’s bleeding in a hospital and the doctors present are apathetic, does he not have a right to be bitter or complain that he’s not getting the services he deserves?

    Choice of profession is one matter, and demanding a level of competence from people who are providing you services is another.

  7. In simple words, if I want better medical attention, I need to be the doctor. But then can I demand better in-flight services, because I cannot be the flight attendant too in the same life, can I? ๐Ÿ™‚

  8. @ Amit –

    Of course you can demand. But demand need not bring the change. Be a painter or pilot; but you will have to rely on what’s being offered and that’s a fact. Now let’s not extend this debate by saying “So, you want me to be a pilot, a doctor, a mechanic…because I demand good services from each one of them.” Its just impossible.

    I’m not against raising voices. I demand for action. Because 10000 raising voices create noise. One action, one step changes the world.

    Yay! ๐Ÿ˜€

  9. @K

    Now since you demand for action, how about becoming each one of us and doing what you expect us to do? ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I am changing the world in my stream of activity, by doing better work in my field, but I would like to have better services in telecom, airlines, administration… Just saying that I need to be in those fields takes the onus of working better away from the people who are responsible for those fields.

  10. We see Tamil HRโ€™s employing loads of Tamil employees, We see gujjus in stock market giving broker licenses to fellow gujju/marwaris with help of lobby in stock market.We see whole west bengal on streets ONLY when sourav ganguly is removed.We see punjabi film directors higlighting punjabi culture 90% of the times(i am sick of it)โ€ฆ..There are such countless examples.

    I feel that marathis made a huge mistake by thinking about India first. They should’ve created a lobby in their own areas and shouldn’t have allowed others to take advantage of them.

    Good to see that marathis are more united now after what Mr.Raj Thackeray did.

    What you see that “be an indian first” etc etc is good in the IDEAL situation….not in the PRACTICAL one…. You will see parochialism everywhere…

    Even the Australian PM and Obama want the jobs to be given to their own local people (Now you would say that they are talking about their country and not a particular state,heh !). I totally support what Raj Thackeray is saying (I dont support beating up). Migration to mumbai should be stopped.

    ***Its not possible to feed people from different parts of India with the infrastructure of few cities like pune,mumbai and nashik,nagpur ***

  11. I never thought I might agree with you by even 1%. But this time its different. I just have an objection to the ideology. If an Indian is helping an Indian in an alien territory, it should be called ‘Bhai Chara’. But when a Tamilian helps a Tamilian, Gujju helps a Gujju, Sardar helps a Sardar… what do you call it?

    Do you believe this? Just because others are corrupt, I should also accept bribe.

    Let us all be Indians first. The communal division is secondary. But I agree, not all communities practice it. In any case, if Raj wants to help us (Marathis), let him work for better and not worse. What he has done is maligned us in front of all others just like Lalu did for Biharis.

    We have set an example by thinking about India ahead of ourselves. Lets keep our heads high. How else will you then defend that 3 of the top 10 cities in India are actually in Maharashtra?

  12. But what about the “londhaas” coming to mumbai, pune nashik nagpure each and every day in thousands ??

    Isnt it going to put strain on the civic system of the respective cities? Wont the local people suffer unecessarily due to all this??

    Every time a new road or footpath is built, i see panipuri waalas and kachhi dabeli waalas starting their new thelas ….with new faces imported from up bihar every time….

  13. I agree. But it is the Municipal corporations who need to keep a tab on them (foot path vendors). I’m not advocating migration. But the apathy towards communities has to go.

    Is it not a thing of being proud to be one of the most sought after destinations in INdia?

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