“It was a time when I went to Hyderabad for vacation. I had a lot of leaves left, so I have taken them during that time” Raj started narrating the story of how he became a construction worker.
“It was November, the start of winter. It was chilly that day, and I felt to go on a ride. A long ride, on my bike on those chilly mornings. Remember the rides that we had?” Raj said, checking if Bhargav was listening to him or not. He nodded in reply and Raj continued with his story. “So, I took my bike and I went towards the outskirts. I just wanted to go in full speed. I had no destination in mind. It was a good day. I stopped by small tea shops on the highway, to get tea and some snacks. You know how much I love eating road side food. Slowly, I felt a desire to go to a beach. As I was on the Hyderabad-Vijayawada highway, I decided to go to Vizag” Raj paused again, to eat his food. He was starving and the little food that he ate at Bhargav’s house was not sufficient to sustain him till dinner.
Bhargav was lost in his thoughts. He remembered the time when they were in college. Raj had become his best friend since the first class. It all started when Raj had lent him his pen as he didn’t have one. And slowly that friendship grew and in less than a month, they became inseparable. They became the iconic best friends in the entire college. Bhargav came from a middle class family and he used to spend less time and money on parties and stuff. Raj, he liked to go out. And whenever they did, where ever they went, they had the best food, in their budget. Bhargav never felt that he had to spend a lot of money to go outside and have fun. And all of this made him think that Raj was also from a middle class family like him. Little did he know. Raj never shared details about his family. And whenever Bhargav used to bring that topic, he used to skip it. A year later, Raj’s father, Srinivas had come to their college to give a speech. After the whole speech, a lot of people have gathered to talk to him, ask for jobs and take pics with one of the most successful entrepreneurs in Hyderabad. As the crowd slowly dispersed, Srinivas pointed towards Raj and gestured him to come. Raj and Bhargav went to Srinivas and they moved to a more open place, where they are not bothered by the crowd.
“How are you, Raj?” Srinivas asked.
“I’m good, father. How are you and mother?” Raj replied. It was then, Bhargav understood who Raj really was. He was the son of one of the most successful entrepreneurs in the state, who was valued at around 1000 crores. And he had been living a simple life, of a middle class family. Bhargav didn’t know if Raj didn’t want to tell anyone about his parentage, or if he was showing off, not to be taken as a guy with money. Many people in his college would gather or become friends if you had a lot of money. Once the money is gone, no one is sure how many people would end up being friends among the lot. After they left to their rooms, Bhargav asked Raj about his parents and why he had never told him about them.
Raj replied “I come from a wealthy family, true. But the reason we are wealthy is because my father worked day and night in his youth to build his company. I should not just waste it on things that are temporary, but use it on stuff that would help me learn and grow. Whenever we go out, I try to find the best and cheap restaurants in the city, so that we don’t end up spending too much, but also have a delicious meal. I look for places that are more in heritage, rather than shopping centres. In all these days, have you ever seen me go to a mall? No. Because I think malls are stupid. I prefer going to an archaeological site outskirts of the city which takes a day to go, rather than spend an entire day in a mall, which would yield no good results.” What Raj told made sense to Bhargav then. He put himself on a budget, and that is not because he didn’t have enough money. He lost track of the story Raj was narrating, as he was reminiscing their old days in college.
“So, I was coming back from Vizag, and I was just entering the city. It was about 8 pm in the night and everything looked as if it just wanted to close up and take the night. But they still had an hour or two to go. The traffic was a little packed, owing to this being a Saturday. And as usual, the beggars were waiting at the signal. I had some change that I could give them. As I grabbed the change from my pockets, I observed something peculiar. There was a small kid, who was begging. Although, this was not something new that I would see on the roads, but this child was different. He was burning. He was weak, hungry. I didn’t want to give him the change, but wanted to nurse him back to health. So, I gestured the kid to come to me and asked him if he would like to eat. His reply made me think dude. He said ‘o rendu rupayalu unte ivvandi saar. Meeku dandam pedatha.’ (Please just give me 2 rupees. I request you). I was thinking, why was he not accepting food, but wanting money? I asked him the same question. He didn’t answer the question until I asked him a few more times. And his answer was really brutal. He has to finish his daily target of two hundred rupees and only then he would be given food in the night. Otherwise, he would be left starved till he catches up on his daily targets” he paused again. This was an answer that Raj wanted Bhargav to understand. This would become a trigger for the events that happened later in his life after that day and him ending up in being a construction worker.
Bhargav’s expressions told Raj what he wanted to hear. And that was enough. He started narrating the next part of the story. “As he told me the reason he wanted money, but not food, I was dumb struck. Was he a salesman to meet his daily target? He is just a child whose daily target was to enjoy the life as much as he can, but he is working hard than any of us, just to get a morsel of food. Who is behind all this? I demanded him to answer this question. He was adamant in protecting the identity of the one who is making him do this. Was it out of loyalty to the person who gave him food? Or was it fear of the same person? I didn’t understand then. But, after a while, he melted with answers. He told me who they were. Blood boiled inside me. The horrors that happen to them, seemed like they were happening to me and I couldn’t take the anger anymore. I took the kid to a hotel, fed him some food. Then I dropped him at one of my friends’ in Hyderabad for his stay and raced my bike towards the location he told me. It was already late when I reached there. About 11pm, I would guess. I called the cops when I reached there. Due to my father’s name, they have gladly taken my call, even though it was so late in the night. I have requested them to listen to the conversation that was going to happen and help me if I was in need. I have shared the details of my location and they have told me that they would send someone near to my location.
I slowly opened the door and walked in. There was no one outside. My phone was on speaker and I turned the display off, to make sure, the other side could hear and my phone wouldn’t hang up because of some touch in my pockets. I wanted the attack on them to be a surprise and I was controlling my anger, so that my brain would make a logical judgement. This would usually be the time they are calculating their fortunes through the day from the sympathy of others and probably laughing at it. This was money that a lot of people thought insignificant and gave to the beggars, from whom these people have made a fortune. This is money that would always be flowing in, as humans, we can’t bear someone feeling pain. I walked up to another door, to which I could hear sounds of metal clinking to each other. My logical guess was that they were separating coins based on their denomination. My anger rose up, even more. How could they live off earnings of a small kid? I couldn’t control my anger anymore. I kicked the door and it flew open. I realized it was a mistake then. There were many people, most of them looked like they were bred to kill. Strength was something that would easily over power me here. I need another way. I demanded them to stop. It sounded like a joke to them, they all started laughing. It was not the kind of laugh for a joke, but more of mocking me, as if what I could do when I was outnumbered more than 10 to 1.
I needed some kind of help here. I looked around to see what I can do. There were many coins stuffed in sacks. They could be of some help. But I needed to be careful. As I already said, they looked like they were bred to kill.
I needed some kind of support here. As I started walking towards them, their leader, I guess, ordered them to kill me. I picked up a sack of coins. It was heavy. I was just able to hold it. Emotion gives you power, and so did mine. Anger gave me the strength. As one of those body builder types came toward me, I flung the sack towards his face. Probably, he never expected to get hit with a sack of coins that he had helped gather in that sack. He immediately fell down with that blow.
But hitting one was not really a feat of strength on my part and I couldn’t expect to do the same with all the others. A few more started walking towards me. Even if I could hit one then, I would not be able to survive the blow from the others. I needed to have a tactical plan. I opened the sack and threw half the coins in it. Some hit them in the face, but the idea was to reduce the weight to be light enough to run with it and also heavy enough to give a blow when hit. I started running. I tried hitting people as fast as I can. But they recovered quite easily. This blow was not as hard as the one I had given to the first guy. They caught up to me and grabbed the sack away from me. I tried hitting me with my hands and legs. Even amongst that repeated blows, they managed to pin me down. I still tried to defend myself. They started hitting me too.
Never in my life, I had faced a situation where I knew I would be dead in a few moments. I could almost see the light at the end of the tunnel and then something happened. Those people slowly stopped beating me. Not all at once. The number of blows they gave reduced. And in a minute, I was just lying there. Was I dead? This was the question that was running through my mind. But then, I saw them. Even in that faint light I could recognize them. They were my saviours that day as I was trying to be a saviour for the small kid I saw on the street. They were the police I had called before. They had been monitoring the entire conversation and had managed to come in at the right time. No matter how bad some stories show the police, there are some really good people there too. They strive for the betterment of the world. And on that day, I recognized them. It all happened in a haze. All of those people were arrested. The kids were sent to places where they can study and have a life they deserve. I was admitted in a hospital and they wanted to reward my acts. I said that it was them, not me who deserved that rewards and asked them not to mention this to anyone.
Many days later, I got a phone call. I recognized the voice. It was the leader. He had been released from jail on bail. And he had managed to track me. He was waiting at my place here. When I came back home, which I had to, he had thrashed me and I somehow managed to get him arrested again. This time, the police made sure he stayed in jail without a bail. The threats didn’t stop. I had to flee. I had to look for a place where they couldn’t find me. Getting a daily wage job was one of the first things on that list. Being a construction worker when my dad had a construction company wasn’t hard. It was hard to convince my dad when I wanted to be a construction worker. And I managed to do that somehow. And that is how, Bhargav, I became a construction worker” Raj ended his story.
Bhargav, who thought his friend was joking when he told him he was a construction worker, couldn’t be more proud when he narrated the story of how his life had took a turn for him to end up there.
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