I’ll (Sunil Kumar) show you a copper leaf, a customer from Patiala asked me to make. I’m sure if she tries to buy it from one of those fancy stores it will cost her four times what I’m selling it for. Small shopkeepers like us can make all sorts of objects with copper but we need customers for that and there are none here. People haven’t risen above necessity. Every object has to have a purpose in our society. Sometimes I wish to make miniature kitchenware, toys and display them on the shop front but my father bars me from doing that adducing it as a useless activity. ‘Make something beneficial’ he tells me every time I try.
My brother went to work in a factory in Ludhiana. He earns around ten thousand every month which isn’t enough to survive in a city like that. If he comes back and we work at the shop together, we can make double the amount he gets. These factories churn profits out of the labour of a common man. If we work hard enough we can touch any heights with our business. My father’s maternal grandfather started by making small round copper pitchers. After running the shop for two years and learning every trick possible he started working for a factory nearby. He got promoted in no time and earned enough to open two small-scale industries of his own. He has earned enough that the next seven generations can survive with the money.
I want my kid to carry this business forward. Whenever he’s free I bring him along to the shop. He’s small to do anything productive but I let him play around. If he comes to like it, I’ll help him develop the skill. But if he doesn’t, I’ll let him move on to whatever he’s into. Lehragaga is known as the PGI of copper vessels, any repair that gets stuck is sent to Lehra. So, the work is never going to go down here. We will be here for long.
Story: Gurdeep Dhaliwal
English text: Gurdeep Dhaliwal
Assistance: Surinder Singh Bhatti