“From a room that was full of brutality and hardships to the sky of independence and victory,
He flew alone from picking up crushed bottles to serving the best cuisine at Courtyard by Marriott.”
The small town of Gorakhpur in Uttar Pradesh was nourishing a talent quietly. A family that was full of people and happiness was accompanied by Rajdev, his mother, father, younger sister and brother with the most important member that was a new bottle of liquor every night. As this bottle of liquor might appear to be an innocent silent liquid that will cause no harm but in real it may tear away lives the way it did for Rajdev.
A beautiful Bengali mother who took Rajdev for a movie in a small village near Gorakhpur and the unjust society who pointed her to be happy without her husband who was working as a rickshaw driver in Ghaziabad. The story started two cities apart, when the residents of the village spoke evil about the lady to her husband and he grew in anger. Without actually thinking and discussing about what would have really happened he started beating the lady brutally and the kids got wrapped in his anger and even the innocent bodies were trapped badly in the violence.
The anger was so intense that Rajdev’s mother was immediately sent back to her maternal family in Bengal and she took her little sister and brother away. Rajdev was taken to his father’s workplace in Ghaziabad where they lived in a small store room at a mansion. His father was a man with a little of interest and knowledge into Indian rituals and used to work as Sadhu too in his free time. Little Rajdev was also learning the basics of worship in a nearby temple and was admitted to a small school in class 6th.
Studying was his passion and he was happy with his books, deprived of the family shelter the little one was trying to build his own world.
A few days later his mother was called back and the family got together again but that was a myth for a very few days as soon the story got again with a bottle of liquor and the noises of violence that used to spill out of the small store room. This time his mother was not a guest for long and was thrown out soon and was asked to leave forever and she did the same with her little daughter in her arms.
The days got darker and now Rajdev had to cook for the three of them, sometimes his father was good when he came alone and at times when he was accompanied by the bottle his persona was a complete chaos which Rajdev and his younger brother were swallowing gradually. With the changing life Rajdev the soul of purity decided to make a box of saving for his school project and made a piggy bank to save a few coins for the small leftover family.
His father too acted as an active participant and contributed his part which he also used to take back often for his thirst of a drink. Unlike Rajdev his little brother was naughty and careless. He used to steal the property of the family from the piggy bank for his chocolates and replace fake paper notes so that no one doubts him. This went for a few days and one fine day his dad found the story and assumed Rajdev to be the culprit and punished him hard with a stick.
This violence was the saturation and the two of them ran away. Though Rajdev was not that convinced but his little brother was not ready to stay a day more. The two little boys managed to buy two tickets of a train and they reached the Old Delhi railway station. Rajdev saw a few little kids picking up plastic bottles from railway track and he rushed towards them to ask them if they could help him get the same work.
The other boys were surprised to see the two little innocent boys near them and guided them the way to their caretaker Lakhan who stayed in a nearby slum. Lakhan Bhaiya was a big help to the two hungry boys and instructed them to pick bottles which will cost Rs 16 for 1 kg and Bear bottles for 2 Rs each (Rajdev still remembers the price well and that reflects his core of hardships).
This source of income was giving both of them an average bread for every day and after their necessities little Rajdev was able to save Rs. 35 per day for himself and his brother. One fine day Lakhan Bhaiya called Rajdev near him and told him that he was not made for this place and should get an opportunity to study like other kids. He added that often a few people from a centre come to take homeless kids with them and change their lives.
Rajdev also was waiting for his life to change and the day came when two volunteers from an NGO came to explain the kids about the relevance of education and the help they might get from this NGO. Rajdev was excited and was eager to flourish his life by the right of education but his brother was not that convinced and agreed to join him only if he finds it to be a good place or will come back again.
The next morning was a fresh day; Rajdev did not collect bottles from the tracks but went to live a new life with the volunteers. Within he was a bit scared as not every help could give beautiful results. He had heard that at times people may misuse little kids and that was his fear through the way.
They left for New Delhi Railway station where Ajit Kumar was his next ray of hope. He was asked about his family, birthplace and every little detail. Little Rajdev knew a lot of himself and recited his story politely. Ajit stood up and took the two brothers with him to a franchise of Don Bosco Asylum near Okhla station. From outside the place looked like a jail to Rajdev but he was ready to take the risk and his case started under the Child welfare committee of Mayur Vihar Phase-1.
This was the journey of his steps into the world of education which his brother left in between and ran away from the asylum. Rajdev was in deep grief and was getting mad to get his brother back but the volunteers explained him to have faith and wait, he will come back someday which never did happen and still his little brother runs away often and is still away from him.
Rajdev’s life was changing gradually and an intellectual turn was almost there when one fine day his dad managed to find him and drag him back from the centre. To take him back his Dad promised to quit drinking but that fake promise lasted for 1 full hour. Rajdev was taken back to the hell days of Ghaziabad again and now his father even left his rickshaw pulling and was a fulltime Sadhu in a temple.
His father dragged him in doing the small chores of the temple where he was a priest and Rajdev missed his mom, sister and brother who were not in the family now.
“A beautiful family of 5 was torn by a bottle of bear.”
One day one of the ladies nearby told him that his mother was staying in a nearby village and Rajdev could go to see him someday. The little boy was missing his mother a lot and decided to visit her.
With a partial address he started searching his mom in every house of the street and finally met her at last. She was looking different and was happy to see her son again. She hugged her tight and took him to her place nearby. There Rajdev met her little sister and a stranger man who was now his mother’s wedded husband too.
It was tough for him to accept the fact but he did and also promised not to reveal this secret to his father. A few days later when Rajdev’s mom passed away the little boy got to know that actually the stranger was not his mother’s choice but she was forced to get into this bond due to her solo fate.
Rajdev’s hunt for family did not stop there and a few days later he also found out his little brother who was now living at a centre in Fatehpuri. He was happy that he was studying there and living happily.
Days passed and his life deteriorated more. It was hard to live with his father anymore and he went back to Lakhan Bhaiya to pick bottles. Lakhan Bhaiya asked him to sell coconuts this time and with barefoot he ran from one train to another and started selling coconut slices.
Life gave him another chance and he was again taken to a NGO named Butterflies by a few volunteers and started his further education. But this time he decided to pursue his education from an open school so that he would start a source of income parallel.
After the sad demise of his mother Rajdev was the only one to take care of his little sister for whom he kept on requesting relatives to manage for some days and finally nothing worked out and he was forced to get help from the NGO People to find a hostel for his sister.
Rajdev was getting thin and pale every day with the burden of his sister and missing brother and he fell sick badly. He was diagnosed with TB and was admitted to a hospital of the NGO where he met a few people who were working in Community Kitchens. They told him that after learning cooking there they all will get assured jobs in reputed hotels.
Rajdev took a decision within and after getting discharged from the hospital he straight away went to the coordinator of the NGO and discussed his aspiration and the way that he had recently found out. The NGO helped him well and paved his journey from the Night shelter to the community kitchen where a new horizon of hope was ready to flourish Rajdev.
He started learning there and later started working there too and throughout his search operation for his brother was on. In day hours he used to work and during the nights he used to search his brother from streets to streets, slums to slums.
Rajdev’s sister was safe at the NGO hostel and he used to visit her often.
Life changed and 2014 was his golden year when from the walls of community kitchen he got a job opportunity in a small coffee shop and he did his best there. And this was just the starting; the real surprise was unfurled on 1st April 2016 when he got his offer letter to join in Marriott Bangalore.
But the hardships of life were not over and his distance from his sister started troubling him and he took a transfer to Gurgaon to stay near the little girl. Rajdev was always concerned for his family but the others did not feel the same for him. His sister was getting big and was making her own world and his younger brother was already dragged in dark streets.
The storming between the changing attitudes of her sister was so intense that he left his job to take care of the girl but she did not value. Rajdev’s career was facing a trauma and he was forced to take multiple switches from The Lalit in Jaipur to Radisson Blu in Gorakhpur.
Later when he realised that all his loved ones were living their own ways, destiny finally decided to bring Rajdev away from all in Madurai and now he is a chef in Courtyard by Marriott. Possibly destiny bought him here to take him away from those people for whom he has surrender all his life and in return he never got anything.
Today He has no one but he has a journey from a bottle picker to a chef in Courtyard by Marriott.
He still keeps all possible contact with his relatives and stretches his arms to hug people around. He misses his little sister who flew to be independent and he loves his brother who continues running. He knows what his father has done but he loves him a lot without his bottle of bear.
It is not always important to have a lot of resources to make your dream come true. But one should know how to mould challenges into opportunities and built the empire of your aspirations. Rajdev’s journey has just started and will flourish to a beautiful rainbow in the horizon of future. A lot of us blame that we were deprived of basic amenities but this boy tells us all what basic values are required to develop all these amenities.