Mukesh tea stall
The story dates back to 1994 when my dad took his last breath. I was in 5th standard back then. There were a lot of financial issues so I moved to Bombay to support my family where I worked at grocery stores and did odd jobs to make a living.
My grandfather’s wish was to get me married. So when he passed away, I did just that. I got married at 19 without uttering a word. I was young back then so I didn’t really understand what was happening. I didn’t protest. I did what everyone expected me to do. After I got married, my father-in-law gave me some money. So, my wife and I moved back to Bombay to set up our own business. The business started to grow and I was making decent money. I wanted to hire more people and that’s when I thought I could ask one of my brothers to come and help me. But as fate would have it, my brother spent all the money on drinking and gambling. He ran away and left us with a lot of debt. I had to sell my shop to pay for it.
I had some 20,000 rupees left with me so I took a loan to buy a Maruti Van. Once I bought the van, I went to the bank for some paperwork. I was driving and I heard someone screaming – “ Aag! Aag! Yaha see bhagat”.
I couldn’t do anything. We jumped off the van so that nobody would get hurt. I had lost all my savings in just a second. I just stared into the flame doing nothing.
As if this wasn’t enough, my dad also passed away within a few days. I had lost all hope. I was shattered. There was nothing that was pushing me to move forward. My brother wronged me, my car caught fire and my father was no more.
But my mother entered like a guardian angel. She told me that my father has left me a shop. It was an abandoned shop but I knew I could make something of it. With my mother’s help, I opened a small dairy. I was starting to make a decent income. Things were only starting to get better until they were not.
It was just another day when I was working at my shop. I was arranging the racks and suddenly my phone rang. I didn’t check it. It kept on buzzing so I picked up my phone and unlocked it. The next thing I saw, broke me. It was as if my whole world had come crashing down.
My wife was having an affair.
I felt betrayed. I had never felt more helpless. Anger had gripped me. I couldn’t recognize myself. I have endured a lot in my life, but that incident scarred me. I was broken from inside.
I confronted my wife but she had nothing to say. She wasn’t even pretending to feel guilty. She acted as if nothing had happened and left without saying a word.
Lost in life I had no idea about what to do next. I turned to alcohol and became an alcoholic. I would drink till 6 in the morning and pass out. This had become a daily schedule for me. I drank to the point where doctors told me that if I don’t stop drinking, I won’t have a future. It took me a while but I got back on my feet. But once I did, everyone started to force me to get married again. And I gave in to their wishes, again.
I got married to a woman 10 years older than me. Our marriage lacked love. We were together just for the sake of it. We failed to make a baby and everyone started talking about it. People started name-calling. I was called impotent and a lot of vulgar things. I went to several doctors. I started eating right, took a lot of medicines but nothing seemed to work.
The cycle of misery was starting to repeat again. People lost faith in me. I lost faith in myself.
After several tests, the results remained the same. And when my wife took the test, we found out that her body is not strong enough to conceive a baby.
My life continued as it was. It was another day at work. I happened to exchange a smile with this one woman and suddenly felt a connection. Slowly, I became fond of her and we started seeing each other. I wanted to give up but then she entered my life as a miracle. I found love. Something that I hadn’t tasted before.
My life has nothing been short of a roller coaster ride. Life has taught me so much. From earning in lakhs to not having enough money to sustain my family, I have seen the worst phases of life. Life has taught me to always believe in myself even when no one else does. There have been times when I didn’t want to live at all. I wanted to end everything. But somehow I kept moving forward. The zeal I have for life keeps me going.
Now, I live with my wife and my 8-month old son. I have a small tea stall in Bhupalpura. I might not earn a lot but I earn enough to keep my family happy. And that for me is everything.