CHAPTER – 15
Some time earlier, one day, I was waiting to catch the bus on my way to work, at the bus stop opposite to Mandaiveli post office.
A cobbler used to be there, who occasionally mended my chappals if they needed mending. That day I had entrusted such a piece of work to him and he was busy, stitching. I noticed his stomach. It was completely shrunk. “Why, friend,” I asked, “have you not had any breakfast?”. “No!” he said, and then added, “I didn’t have any while, clean my teeth and take my breakfast. Then only I would find strength slowly returning to my limbs. I decided to set this right. In the evening I started munching a quarter anna worth of groundnuts. In about ten days I was restored to normalcy! I got over the urge for supper when evenings came. But the thought kept recurring, “What should I do to get the world rid of poverty for My supper continues to be what it had always been a cup of milk.
About eight months after our marriage, my brother developed hernia trouble. He could not work at the loom
Three years passed.
Deep within me I was happy whenever I thought of the special blessing that has been confered upon me. I mean, of course, my wife. She was a tower of strength to me, removing obstacles from my path, solving our problems and softening the impact of life’s struggles.
But I felt sad that I was not in a position to give her all the comforts to which she was accustomed to in her
Her father was addicted to gambling. Betting on horses was his weakness. Deaf to all advice, he lost everything and became quite poor. His income dwindled, since he could not devote as much attention as before to his profession. It was at this stage that his daughter was married to me.
Those who are born poor develop fortitude. But, for Those who have seen better days, poverty is really painful.
I had hoped that by marrying me she could get back some of the comforts she enjoyed in her younger days; but unfortunately my financial condition was not good enough to put an end to her trials. there would be a profit of fifteen rupees a month. That would take care of the railway fare too.” Such was the trend of my thoughts. The Postal Audit Office in which I was employed had a canteen. I met the Secretary of the canteen, told him of my scheme and asked him to take two measures of milk from me each day. He agreed to my offer with pleasure. They found the quality of the milk to be good and the coffee prepared with it quite tasty. They ordered four measures more.
The very next month I took my family to Guduvancheri. I fixed up a house. The rent was only a rupee and a half.
Although the roof was leaky we found it a bargain at that time. I now made a profit of fifty rupees a month on my milk sales. In my Office they were buying guard files for pasting and preserving vouchers, from dealers in the City. Now there was a proposal to manufacture them with waste paper available in the Office itself. An Office Superintendent, personally interested in me, told me this was a profitable source and that I could bid for the contract.
There was however one condition. I was to furnish a certificate to the effect that I was a qualified binder. I was prepared to meet this condition; I caught hold of a book binder, and learnt his craft in just one week, sitting at it day and night. I demonstrated my newly acquired skill at a printing press and obtained the required certificate. Thus I secured the contract from my Office.
When I returned home to Guduvancheri every evening, I took a stock of boards and waste paper sheets. My wife arranged them carefully in the right order and stitched them. On getting back at night, I glued the sheets together, pasted marble paper on the boards and the files I decided to close that business.