Do you ever notice the faces of old people? Any, known or unknown old face?
The smiling face of old people always fascinates me. It resembles the euphoria of human life. The wrinkles on their face take the shape of a smile. Maybe I am bringing my preconceive notion without knowing the hidden emotions behind their smiling faces. But this is how I feel. Unfortunately, those wrinkles do not smile all the time.

It was 7 O’clock in the morning when I reached a small village called Pondi. It was raining so intensely and the sky was full of dark clouds refused to go anywhere. An old man in a roadside tea stall with the grey beard and wrinkled pale face was putting the stove into the fire. He was sitting silently surrounded by other 7-8 men talking loudly about national politics. The constant commotion was distracting the old man. I have ordered a cup of tea. I have complimented him for the tea and asked him how long he had been running the tea stall. I was surprised when he gave me a deadly stare and turn back without uttering a word. After around 10 minutes when I was about to leave he said that he has been running the tea stall for the last 6 years. I have ordered another cup of tea and our conversation has begun.
Hari Singh Marahi had started cow herding after two years of schooling. He has mentioned that at that time cow herding was more enthralling than schooling. After his adolescence period, he started thinking about earning income. But there was neither employment opportunity in the village nor did he have the capital to do business. Therefore, with the dream of earning a livelihood, he went to Jabalpur. He had started rickshaw pulling work. With the minimum earning from rickshaw pulling he could not afford a rent for his own room. Sometimes he used to spend the night at his friend’s place. Most of the days he had slept on the footpath. It is beyond imagination how difficult it is to sleep on the footpath during foggy winter night or the rainy summer. He has suffered from malaria and pneumonia during that period. The mental agony, distress, and physical harm that he had gone through can well be understood rather than described. That was the time when he had indulged himself in consuming alcohol. He has mentioned he used to be so tired after pulling the rickshaw for the whole day which forced him to consume alcohol to get rid of the stress. But gradually he had become so addicted to alcohol and marijuana that it became impossible for him to be abstinent. In many occasions, he couldn’t afford a meal because all his money had spent on his addiction. At the time of illness, he used to miss his home and family so much that he had cried a lot of times at night on the footpath.  After a few years, he had rented a home along with his two friends, which become his residence for the rest of his days in Jabalpur. The life as a rickshaw puller was very difficult for him. A large number of the population depend on rickshaw pulling for their livelihood. Most of the rickshaw puller lives in dire poverty without any social security. He has mentioned that people often disrespect and neglect the rickshaw puller as if they are not human. It had hurt him a lot. People used to scold and beat rickshaw puller so often for small reasons. “Garib hona jurm hain ish duniya me” (it is a crime to be poor in this world) he said.
After 40 years of rickshaw pulling, he came back home since it has become very hard for him to pull rickshaw at 60 years of age. His son is working in a hotel. He doesn’t want his father to be a rickshaw puller. Therefore he taught his father to make samosa, pakora, poha, tea, etc. He wanted to start a hotel in Pondi. But it was a distant dream which he could not reach since he did not have any money with him. Therefore he had borrowed money from his relatives and son and started a small tea stall. He has mentioned that selling tea and snacks is far easier than rickshaw pulling since it does require less physical energy. Moreover, now he finds more dignity of work. His tea stall becomes a meeting point for the people. There are different types of conversation occurred in such meeting; from the discussion of fantasies and dreams of young people to the discussion of nostalgic adulthood of old people.
Now he lives with his wife, son, daughter-in-law and a grandson. His grandson has started to go to school last year. Now his dream is to educate his grandson. “Ab mera yahi karam hain” (Now this is my destiny) he said when he was talking about educating his grandson. Now he is living a sober life with his family. Sometimes the past experience agonizes him. It was not the struggle that hurts him but the way he had wasted 40 years of his life for addiction, and the disrespect that he had received from people hurts him now.  But he is very happy that he is spending time with his family in his own home, which he had missed during the nights on the footpath.
The life of Hari Sing perfectly resembles the quotes of John Porter, “People underestimate their capacity for change, there is never a right time to do a difficult thing”. After giving 40 years of his life to the certain profession, he came back home with an empty pocket and deteriorated health. He had lots of questions to answer; not to anyone else but to himself. But he shows us that life changes even at the 60 years of age. He has changed his profession and living a sober life with his loved ones. Challenges and struggles are the part of life. There will be many forces to hold us back from change. He shows us that we can bring positive change at any point in time in our life. The quest in search of happiness which began 46 years ago on the footpath has finally reached the home.