The Popcorn Seller

The country is preparing in full-mode for the upcoming Assembly elections. All political parties are in full swing to promises to the poor and needy to secure their vote banks. One of the promises that every party highlights in its election-manifesto is that of employment to the youth. Though at once we too believe when government publishes accounts of its achievements in generating jobs in all national dailies but then one occasion of knowing people like Shayad Ali, a youth, a pop-corn seller, the reality behind such bragging is all exposed!

Read on to see how similar are the expectations & ambitions of the youth living in two different Indias inspite of the difference of development existing between them. Whether a youth hailing from a small town or a youngster living in a metro, youth want freedom for themselves and both enjoy being the rebel they are.

Meet Shayad Ali, a popcorn seller. He is 21 years old and is working since he was 9. At an age when most kids do not know how to handle a needle, he was busy stitching clothes at his village.

VP : Hi

Shayad : Hi

VP : May I take your interview?

Shayad : What for? I am no Shahrukh, madam .

VP : We interview those people who fight with life to stay alive.

Shayad : Oh! But Madam I have not done anything so great.

VP : Don’t you roam around on the streets whole day to sell your stuff?

Shayad : C’mon Madam anybody would do it when his stomach is empty. I do this only to feed myself, I don’t even part with my earnings for my family back home.

VP : Why? You earn so less or what?

Shayad : My parents do not need financial support from me now. My younger sibling back home and another one elder to me work and earn sufficient. Also my father does the job of ‘kirsi’ (A task in farming)

VP : Oh! So when did they need it?

Shayad : When I was young then. I was sent to Delhi by them when I was 14.When I was 9, they employed me with a master who taught me stitching. I have been working since then.

VP : Have you ever been to school?

Shayad : Yes until my seventh class.

VP : Then why did you leave?

Shayad : Madam , it is good to start early because studies can’t give you livelihood. What will one do in studies, BA or inter! I was fortunate that I got a job with master else I would have been jobless and penniless.

VP : Would not your parents have supported you?

Shayad : Madam it goes like this in our village. There are atleast 5 siblings and parents cannot bring them all up thus it is for your good if you start early.

VP : Oh! Then why are you doing this job of yours?

Shayad : Well, I hate being tied down. Someday I may feel like working and the other I may not, thus selling popcorn is better. At least you work only when you wish to. I earn better in this work and work only from 3 to 9 in the day.

VP : How much money do you make by selling this?

Shayad : Rs. 250 on an average. With, stitching it was only Rs.100 in a day.

VP : What you do before three in the day?

Shayad : I do all the chores at my room as I live with three other people from my village and I am the youngest. Then I have to fetch this stuff from the wholesaler.

VP : All right. So how do u like Delhi?

Shayad : I like Delhi for its markets. I simply love the lightings at night. You know I have seen almost every cinema hall of Delhi-Kavita, Paras, Ritz, Sible…I saw first day first show of ‘Chand ke Paar’ recently.

VP : So what is your plan for future? Any thing you wish?

Shayad : I am getting married in June. Before that, I want to earn sufficiently so that I can show her Delhi comfortably. I will leave selling popcorn then. My wife may not like it. Also my family has lied to my in-laws that I do stitching here. So I want myself to have a shop of my own so that I can earn with respect and with a larger margin by stitching.

VP : Is your wife educated?

Shayad : She is still studying in her ninth class. But she will soon leave studies for being here with me.

VP : Don’t you think she should study some more and marry when she is atleast 18?

Shayad smiles and does not even bothers to reply may be he is too busy in planning for his life ahead which began way to early. But this is how most of India lives!

Compiled by:

Monica Verma