The Tea Seller
The Tea Seller8 mins 628 8 mins 628
Raju had just passed the high school when his father passed away leaving behind him his wife, and two children, one son and one daughter. They had a good life as long as Diwakar was alive. He ran a small grocery shop in front of his house and had enough earning to give his family a good life. His wife, Jaya, was also very supportive by nature and helped him in his work. There was a good coordination between them. Soon after sunrise, he opened the shop and remained there busy till nine or sometimes, specifically on market days, till ten at night. However, amid his busy schedule, he would daily spare some time which he spent with his children. His heart swelled with pride when Raju read his English book. He himself could not get good education because of the extreme poverty of his family; so, his only wish was to give the best education to both his children. With this dream in his heart he had got them admitted to Adarsh Vidya Mandir that was the best English medium school of Rajgarh and provided all the facilities at home that were necessary for the education of his children. Everything was going well when suddenly one evening he complained of stomach pain. At first, they contacted the village quack who came and after doing some check up gave some pills that, for the time being, brought him some relief. Time and again, the pain kept him troubling, but each time he either ignored it or suppressed it with pills. His well wishers asked him many a time to pay attention to his deteriorating health and go to a big hospital in the town and get a proper check up, but he did not listen to anyone of them. Eveytime he asked them not to worry about him. "Don't worry for me, friends. Nothing can happen to me before my children stand on their own feet," used to be his reply. But his health kept on deteriorating. Raju took his board examination and was waiting for the results. His examination had gone well, and he was sure of getting good grades.
"Now, he'll go to the college, and for that money is required," Diwakar thought, "No, I can't spoil his life by wasting the money on my health. It's for his education." He knew the importance of money. So, everyday he put some money in a box of tin and , at the end of every month, deposited it in his bank account. He new that as little drops of water gradually fill the ocean, so little amounts of savings would one day give him enough money in his picket.
Raju passed his examination with very good marks. Jaya and Duwakar both were proud of him. It was a great and unforgettable moment for them, as Raju was the first child from their family to pass class tenth examination. Now he'd go to the college for higher education and do something for his family and for his village. They were excited to think about it. They had already begun their preparations. In the morning both, the father and the son, would catch the morning bus, which would drop them at Rajgarh by ten o'clock from where they'd go the city college for admission. It was about eleven at night They were still busy in packing the bags when Diwakar felt excruciating pain. As usual the pills were given, but this time he got no relief. The quack was called, but he too failed to soothe the pain. It seemed that it'd stop only after taking his life. On the suggestion of the quack, Raju with some of their neighbours' help took his father to the city hospital, where, after thorough check up, the doctor gave the report. "It's stomach cancer, in its last stage, " the doctor said to Raju putting an envelope in his hand. She didn't want to say this to a child, but since there was no option, she had to tell him directly. He, though small in height and age, knew what the doctor meant.
"Can't you cure him, Madam ?" he asked, with a hope to listen, "Yes son, yes! Very soon your father will be alright."
Pramila Jain, who herself had children of Raju's age, and understood child psychology very well and didn't want to give him a shock with a negative reply.
"Go and take these medicines," she said giving him the prescription, "Give these medicines three times to him daily. He'll be alright soon," tears welled up in her eyes.
Diwakar did not survive more than three days after returning from the hospital. The family that was dreaming for a golden future only a few days back, plunged into darkness.
It's rightly said that when time favours, whatever you touch turns into gold, but when it comes to strike, it strikes from all sides. All the savings made for the children's education had got spent on Diwakar's treatment. The shop was also going in deficit. The friends and relatives who stood on their feet all the time to help them, now started keeping distance. Jaya was not in a position to look after the children. She kept crying all the time and lost her mental balance. Sandhya, who was only two years younger to Raju, often found herself unable to control her mother. Raju knew that after his father's death there was none to bear the expense of his education; so, he decided to discontinue it and concentrate on educating Sandhya. He thought that after his father's death, it was his duty to help her complete her education at any cost so that she might be able to fulfill her father's dream. He had to run the family and also continue his sister's education. For all these, money was required. Owing to lack of the capital amount, the grocery shop too could not be reopened. Now, he was at such a juncture of his life where only three options were left before him. One was to become a bigger and start begging from door to door. The other was to become a thief and steal from other's houses, and the third one was to start a small business like polishing shoes, selling tea, etc. After a strong debate with himself, he chose the third option, and early next morning, reached the court campus with the materials required for selling tea. Already there were a few tea stalls, but that could not frustrate him. He knew that he had nothing to lose. He was right, he didn't lose. That day, when he counted the coins and found them a little more than the capital amount he had put in, he was sure of being on the right track, following which he could chase his dreams. Now, it became his daily routine. On every working day, he reached the court campus and stayed there selling tea as long as the crowd of people remained thick, as it gradually dispersed in the afternoon, he too moved towards his home on his bicycle. It was the only thing that was left with him after his father's death. In the evening, he sat beside Sandhya. He would touch and smell her books and often slipped into his old days. How sweet they were! Time was going very well. He was rising step by step towards fulfilling the dreams of his father. But those days could not return now. He heaved a sigh and scratching his head squatted on the floor and poured the coins out of his small cloth bag not far from where Sandhya was studying sitting on the floor in order to count them and then, as usual, thrust a ten rupee-note in her hand from his profit. This went on everyday.
One day, when Raju was at his tea stall, he heard a familiar voice.
"Can I get a tea, please? "
It was so embarrassing for him. Loknath Pandey, his school Principal was standing in front of him.
"Yes Sir, one minute, please, " he said hiding his embarrassment, and put a glass of special tea, made of only milk, in his hand.
"I've heard that you've stopped your education. "
He hung his head, "Yes Sir, you're right. I'm compelled to do this. "
"Who compelled you? "
Raju felt irritated at this question.
"My father is no more, Sir. Who'll educate me? Who'll bear the expenditure of my education."
"The person bearing your sister's expenditure can bear also yours," Pandeyji smiled
"It's a coward who yields to circumstances, the real fighter faces it."
Pandeyji got up and took to his way leaving his disciple looking at him walk away. Agitated by his Guru's words he kept following him till he completely disappeared from his eyes. He squatted on the ground with his head down. He thought and thought. The more he thought, the more his vision got clear. He felt new energy inside him planning to adorn him with wings to fly in the length and breadth of the infinite sky.
He made up his mind to fight the battle and win it.
Ten years passed, but Raju was still there selling tea, but he was not the same helpless and ordinary boy. He had grown into a young and handsome law graduate now. His hardwork and dedication had changed everything. In the evening, the postman brought him an envelope. The news of the tea seller being appointed as Judge in the same court spread throughout the court campus. In no time, the lawyers started gathering near his tea stall. They all lifted him on their shoulders. The old Guru was too there watching it from a corner. The same smile with which he had parted with his disciple was still playing on his lips. Raju's keen eyes easily recognised those eyes in the crowd. Tearing the crowd he came down to him and fell down at his feet.