I’m at this shop from 50 years. My father used to sit here before me. I’ve sold tea all my life and it has been worth it. My children are married and I’ve bought them their own shops, not too big but big enough to support the daily errands. I’ve always enjoyed my work and have never done it solely for money. I’ve given so much free tea to people in this market and outside, you can see for yourself from my condition (and laughs). I sometimes wonder about how less I’ve cared about profits, I barely thought of what I earned during the day while walking back home but God has taken care of everything. I have never faced a problem while completing an important task in my life. That’s my prize I like to think. Now I don’t need to be here actually, my kids can take care of what little needs I have but what’s the point in sitting idle at home. It’s better to be at the shop, among the people and objects I’ve spent all my life.
We were open 24*7 before 1984 but when the conflict surfaced we began to close our shop at night. Even today the times are similar, you can’t even think of staying open at night. My father died early on, I handled the shop after his death and continued with my studies on the side. I would earn 15-20 rupees and with just that I financed the education of my two brothers. Today one of them is in Naval forces and lives in Bombay, and the other one is employed at the Delhi Airport. I’m also a retired municipality worker but seeing them move so far, makes me feel small at times. I feel all that hard work and selflessness was for nothing because I’m still there, where my father left.
And, we are on the verge of losing this shop too. Like us, the owners have also moved generations and they want us to leave. They ought to pay us something before pushing us out just like that because the electricity metre has been in my father’s name from 60 years. But who wants to part with their money these days. Now the case is in the court and we are waiting for the decision.
Story by: Navjeet Kaur
Text by: Gurdeep Singh