When we were little, our mother passed away. After mothers’ death, our father started spending all his money on getting drunk and saved nothing. When our elder sister was married, he sold the house to keep up with the expenses and bought a smaller one in exchange. He was yet to register the house under his name, but he had no money left to do that, so he sold that house too and we moved to a rented place. Then my father married off my younger sister. He took 5000 rupees for the wedding, kind of sold her. Luckily, our brother-in-law was a good man. My father drank away all that money. The situation at home worsened, my younger brother was sent to live with our elder sister. I was left alone with my father.
There was no one to stop him from doing what he wanted or talk sense to him. There was no food. Once, I spent three days without any food. I did not know how to cook, I was very young, might have been around eight. I stayed home, crying without any whereabouts of my father. When the neighbours found me starving, they gave me food. Even there, my father did not pay any rent, so the landlords kept our stuff and threw us out. We had nothing left. We were on the street. None of our relatives came to support us.
I would help my father with his sewing machine work till noon. In the afternoon, he would send me to go and eat at the Dandi Swami temple along with the beggars. I would come back and help my father for the rest of the day. Occasionally, I would get something to eat at night, otherwise I would go hungry to bed. Whatever my father earned, he spent it on alcohol. He didn’t spare a penny for us.
I was eight when I started learning the repair work. I grew up working along with my father. When I turned sixteen, I started working for someone else in the market. One night, I was asleep and I heard my younger brother crying. When I went and saw, blood was flowing out of his hand. My father had hit him with a brick. That day we got together and beat him up for the first time. I said “You have destroyed everything for us and yet you do not show any sign of change.”
After that I and my brother took one mat and a blanket and started living independently. I told my Father, “We will earn our bread and make a living, you should see for yourself”. We rented a room in Chandan Nagar for 300 Rupees. We shared the living expenses. Younger brother started working at a sewing machine spare parts shop and I worked at a sewing machine factory. We starting making 2500 Rupees a month. Our sisters helped us too. After some time my father started pleading to me, after all I am his son. I took pity and let him move in. Then my brother shifted with my sister and I was left alone with my father again.
I was on my own, and there was no one to guide me. I got involved in street brawls, I would earn and spend on my friends. I could not save much. I would spend my time playing sports, since I could not play in my childhood. I still go to play. My younger brother became a driver and he bought a house after making money in the transportation business. He registered 50 yards of the plot in my name, He got me married in ’98. When I became a father, I started taking more work assignments.
As I gathered more experience, I started up on my own. I became quite a good mechanic. All these men you see working, are my apprentices. I started making new machines. Slowly I created my own brand, I demonstrated it to distributers and it got selected. I started getting orders from Rajsthan, MP, Maharashtra. I started the “Sanjiv Industries” firm in 2011 and registered three model names; Relic, Jupiter and Balak.
Business grew eventually. I lost a lot due to my illiteracy, so many people too advantage of me. I can only write my name, that too in Hindi. I am not going to let that happen to my son, I’ll get him the best education possible. Now my son has grown up and he takes care of the accounts. He wants to expand the business.
Story and Photographs by: Gurdeep Dhaliwal
English Text: Jasdeep Singh