“Are you kidding? How will you pay for your Akka’s dowry?” I ask, without a hint of confusion he calmly replies “Well, my morning wage is around 1000 and evening I earn 2000, for family expenses I save around 1500, for my studies and miscellaneous stuff it’s around 500 and the rest I save for my sister”. Aghast my friend asks him “what about your studies?” with no hesitation he says “School time is between these jobs, so I shuffle between this anna”. I scratch my head, Chandra is just about my waist high but he delivers a stunning clarity well above his age.
|Chandra talking about his studies|
We use the word “Extraordinary” rather exaggeratedly, anything that we think we could not do, we immediately deem it extraordinary effort, not until I came across Chandrasekar from Nolambur – Chennai.
The daily routine of Chandrasekar starts as early as 07:00 am, he starts cleaning the array of cars, hurries back to his house and makes haste to reach school on time by 08:30am. After school Chandra can be seen washing dishes at a Parotta shop, as dusk falls he returns for a good night’s sleep awaiting a busy day ahead.
Chandra’s life has been surging ahead with this routine for quite a few years now; he is 15 years old and has a family that comprises of his mother, younger brother and a sister who was married off recently. Chandra’s father left the family when the kids were still young, a family argument that led one thing to another with the father walking away. With no job and little to serve the kids, chandra’s mother became the sole breadwinner until the kids started supporting her as well.
At 13, kids would love to play, study and eat well but the sudden turnabout of events pushed the family into a state of financial dilemma and the obvious decision was to send the kids to work. The elder sister was married off too and after a few days the in-laws started questioning about the dowry agreements for which the family had no answers. With such financial burden, one would have thought that these kids from such a socially challenging environment would eventually set out to work, but what Chandra had to say really amazed us.
“Every time we had money problems, my mom would ask me and my brother to go and work, with the money we earn we are able to buy groceries, medicines, save for sister’s dowry but I decided that if I need to do more, the only possible way is educate myself. I simply don’t want to keep buying slippers for mom, but a Saree for her, instead of paying debt, I want to build a house; only possible if I finish my studies”, left me wondering if I have ever put my education to use till date.
As he finishes his school and heads to his evening job the park is crowded with kids playing cricket and the little batsman in him longs to whack that willow, but he simply enjoys the sight and continues to the shop. Chandra’s brother still goes to work at a automobile manufacturing unit and Chandra’s prime task is to make his brother understand the value of education and take him to school along.
|Chandra receiving award for best performer|
He doesn’t fret much about his future, simply has a rigid agenda that he sticks to, further reveals his aspiration to play cricket and become a software engineer, all that and he says this is an ordinary routine, nothing to be astonished about. I would completely agree with him for he has given a new insight on when and what the word "Ordinary" should be used for.
We leave with a heavy heart, but little Chandra knows his job is not done until his younger brother tags along with him to school.