At a young age of 23, the pain in the eyes of Khalid Mohammad can move anybody to tears. We sit in the food court of V3S Mall, East Delhi which is buzzing with people of all ages enjoying a hearty Sunday lunch. I ask Khalid how he is feeling today and he responds with a faint smile, “Sundays are always good, it’s that one day of the week where I try and take my mind off all the tensions in my life.”Khalid is the youngest of his 7 siblings. While 5 of his siblings are married and live separately, at present, Khalid lives with his father, 2 brothers and a sister. He has done his class 12th and when I ask him about further studies he says, “Ma’am jitni education zaroori hai utna hii zaroori paisa hai. Bina paise ke ghar kaise chalega, isliye padai chod ke kaam dhoondne ki sochi.” (Education is important but money is equally important, if we have no money then how will we run our house. So, I gave up studies and started looking for jobs.)When he was unable to find work Khalid decided to join ETASHA Society and get training. He realized he did not have the required skill to get a job, he needed to groom himself for the outside world. After passing out, he found work and life as he knew it changed at least a little bit.
Khalid has been working at a Courier Company in Nishadgarh for the past 8 months. I congratulate him saying that his income must make a big difference to his lifestyle; he lowers his tone and replies, “No, my salary is not used at home. We use it to pay off the loan we took at the time of my sister’s marriage. We are trying to clear all our debts.” But Khalid feels proud that at least now he is able to share the burdens of his family and says, “It’s always better to have something over nothing. My salary is not much but it’s something.”
It’s not everyday that one meets people as selfless as Khalid. He has never spent a penny of his income on himself and even when I ask him what he wants for his life he just says, “I have my whole life to think of me. For the next few years whatever I do, it will be for my family.” This prompts me to ask what is it that he wants to do for his family and a hopeful Khalid responds, “Once I pay off our current loan then we will take another loan and I will get my only unmarried sister married. That is my dream, to see her get married as soon as possible.”
Khalid then confesses that there is something he needs for himself. A new pair of trousers. He only owns 2 formal pants which he alternately washes and wears and now even they look shabby. As of this moment, his financial situation is not allowing him to save enough money but soon he hopes he will figure a way to buy himself a new pair of pants.
Khalid is clear about what he wants out of his life. He wants a stable job and does not want to jump between companies, at the same time he also wants to grow and earn more. I notice the confidence in his tone when he talks about how he has applied for another job that will pay him more. He is smiling as he says, “In the 1st round I was candidate number 73. I waited half a day for my turn and it paid off. I am one of the few people who have been chosen for round 2.” He is praying that he gets this job and so am I.
Meeting Khalid is a delightful experience. He struggles to make ends meet yet he is filled with positivity. His eyes have pain yet he knows how to conceal all of that pain behind his laughter. He has dreams, hopes, wishes, desires and most of all he has the willpower to strive towards achieving them.