The great seer, Swami Vivekananda, once said that all types of labour and work demand equal respect.
However, in actuality, our society looks down upon most occupations which involve poor people- rickshaw pullers, maids, cleaners, garbage collectors and other manual labourers.
Even though they have Right to Equality, they seldom exercise that as the rich don’t give them the respect they deserve. In such a system, being a rickshaw puller is an extremely difficult life.
A Rickshaw Puller I know of:
I live in an old locality in the city. Our place has a rickshaw stand with many rickshaws and we don’t yet have an auto monopoly. A rickshaw puller there is quite young, must be a few years older than my elder brother. One day, my father asked him to come home. Nervously he entered because quite obviously nobody had treated him that way ever.
When asked to sit, he comforted himself a bit and started answering my father. He was eighteen years old only and had to do such a job because his father had expired and he was the only earner in the family of five. Even so, he attended night classes so that he can be educated and earn more so that no one in his family has to see such days. Every day, early in the morning before the Sun rose, he woke up, did an hour’s study and went for work after a meager breakfast of rice. He worked throughout the day but earnings were small and irregular.
In the afternoon, he went home either happy that he could arrange for a square meal or dejected that his hard work earned nothing significant. Then again he toiled from late afternoon to early night, then attended his college and came back home tired. This was his routine, irrespective of Sundays and holidays. Even when he is ill, he can’t afford to stay back at home because a day’s loss results in the hunger of his siblings. He wanted to move to cleaner slum too, the one he lived in was too unhygienic.
My father being a professor was moved by the man’s narration and said that he will take up the expense of his studies. His eyes expressed the happiness. I didn’t understand why the rich treated them badly. They were doing an honourable job; feeding their family; working harder than anyone else. This young man was poor, yet he earned my respect because of his efforts and determination.