Certain stories stay with you. One such story is of Mustaq Sheikh whom I met on my field visit to Samudragarh, West Bengal. I understood the meaning of hard work and perseverance after meeting this stranger who became friendly in no time.
The first face I saw once I reached Samudragarh station was of Mustaq, with his motor van. Mustaq was busy cleaning his vehicle but soon came to invite us for a ride to our destination.
Mustaq, a 28-year-old man and a father of three children started driving the vehicle about six years ago. He lost his father at the age of 16 and mother at the age of 18. Mustaq and his brother had to start earning at an early age for their younger sisters. Both of them started working in motorcycle repair shops and gradually raised a decent sum in around four years. The saved amount was used by Mustaq to buy his first motor van which coincidentally was the one he was driving. Mustaq said, “Since the day I have started working, I have never looked back."
Eventually, he got her sisters married and he himself got married too. He remembers every bit of it vividly. His happiness and the way he has been taking care of his family said it all.
Mustaq’s eyes had a twinkle when he told us about how his family now owns five motor vans. Mustaq said, "This motor van is like a part of our family now. It helped me earn a living and take care of the needs of my family. Has any father given away or stopped being close to his son? Same is the relationship I share with my motor van.”
His conviction showed his affection towards the vehicle. He has named the motor van ‘Rafiq’. It suddenly seemed like the motor van wasn't a non-living thing anymore. “I have always had four children and my first son will always be my motor van. It’s a gift from Allah,” he added. Mustaq felt nostalgic as he narrated stories of those days when he had to drive eight hours a day to earn around Rs 500. But, times have changed drastically for him. Now, he earns about Rs 1000 for driving less than five hours. Rafiq has been with him through his thick and thin. It knows all his stories.
Mustaq could not complete his education but he wants to provide education to all his children. Mustaq concluded with a smile,” Everybody has their own way of living life. Rafiq has been a big part of my life. I have been driving for a really long time now. I have never spoken to anyone other than my family about Rafiq. I hope our journey doesn't come to an end."