Wednesday, March 31, 2010

'My Papa is the ice-cream seller'

Shams Ur Rehman Alavi

Pooja and Anshu are quite a sort of celebrities in their school. After all, their father is an ice-cream seller. At least, in a government school in a poor neighbourhood, this is something special.

Other kids look at them in awe. They feel that the sibling are lucky as they can have ice-cream whenever they want though it may not be exactly the case. Kaushal Prashad came to City ten years ago and has made a living selling ice-creams six months a year.

He pushes the handcart and first drops the children to the school and then goes ahead. He even picks them back in the afternoon, as the school is not too far. He has a small dwelling of his own now.

In the government school where Pooja studies with her younger sister, kids don't flaunt cell phones or make fun of the kid whose family has a mere Maruti 800.

Here cycles are a luxury. Most come on foot and not everybody has a full uniform. Families don't have enough money to buy separate dresses for everybody. And so Kaushal Prashad's wife got a piece of cloth for the kids' uniform. Her husband also got trousers of the same piece of cloth.

Do you give them ice-cream whenever they ask? They don't ask too many times, he says. 'kabhi kabhi to dena hi padta hai'. Though the youngest kid, a son, who is at home and yet to get admission pesters him more. Kaushal Prashad earns 4,000-Rs 5,000 a month and is quite satisfied with the earning, hopeful that it will pick up in the scorching summer.

Once the season passes, he will go to mandi and sell vegetables. I am not sure what plans he has for his kids' future. He wants them to study. Though his income may not rise as fast, as the fees for educational institutes and competition examination forms is going up, he is not bothered.

He knows that they will make up their mark somewhere. He hasn't done too badly, in fact, better than his brother who went to Mumbai and is hardly able to spend time with his children. And Kaushal Prashad's children are proud of their Pop.

His job brings them joy. Other kids ask them 'tumhare papa ice-cream bechte hain'. And the kids get a feeling that they are lucky. That's childhood innocence. This post is part of the series of stories, 'How the ordinary Indians live.

Read the earlier posts filed under this tag on this blog:

1. The groundnut sellers: Do elections matter to Pandit Ji and Aslam?
2. The candy-seller on cycle: Magic of mithai-wala
3. A samosa-seller's nap under the tree shade
4. Chacha's qeema-stuffed samosas
5. Tea shops in India: Shrinking and Vanishing
6.'Child who sells CHANA Jor Garam