People of Bharat: Rajindernath
I enter a narrow gully (lane) which runs adjacent to a graveyard and I spot Rajinder’s house in the distance. It’s a small house, with wild bushes growing in the backyard. White-washed and clean, it looks welcoming as I step into a corridor which connects to the living room. A child of about six, is seated naked on the floor playing. He giggles when he sees me and quickly gets up and disappears into an adjacent room. Rajinder welcomes me with a cheery ‘namaste’ (greeting) and a repeated ‘aaiye’ (come in).
Rajinder’s wife motions me to sit on wooden trunck that has been converted into a mini sofa by covering it with a red cloth and placing a couple of cushions. I settle down and take a look at the house. This is where Rajinder lives with his wife and two children — a daughter aged 13 and a son aged six. The interior seems to be much darker than the bright contrast of the white-washed walls outside. Still, it seems tidy, neat and well-equipped with basic comforts. Rajinder’s wife bustles in and out to get me water and attend to her son while I speak to him. Then she clings to the door hanging onto every word that passes between us.
Rajinder is in his mid-thirties and a native of Gajipur in Uttar Pradesh. His father worked in a printing press and his mother was a housewife. Reflecting on his family’s finances he says, ‘Ghar ki condition na ekdum he buri the aur na ekdum acchi thi. Bas kaam chal jaata tha jaise medium family ka hota hai’ (the condition of the home was neither too bad nor too good. We were an average middle-class family) he says.
Rajinder came to Hyderabad in 2004 after completing his graduation in chemistry. He joined a logistics company that dealt with flight cargo shipments and soon switched his job after a year and half. He joined his current organisation, a company in logistics through a reference. ‘Mujhe kareeban tehrah saal ho gaye hain udhar (It’s been thirteen years since I started working there), he explained. I note his degree in chemistry is unrelated to his job in shipments. He has been living in the Athvelly village of Telengana since the last 15 years.
Rajinder chats amicably, asking me about my work and tells me about his. He works as an appointment head now; earlier he used to look after the warehouse at his current place of work. His main responsibilities include planning of shipment all over the country. He explains that distributors and organisations need to ensure their deliverables reach the warehouse within stipulated time. Rajinder and his team plan the time slots and vehicles for the deliveries. He leaves for work at 9:30 am after helping out with the kids as they get ready for school and works till 7 pm. He tells me with a contended smile that Sundays are off. He doesn’t own a vehicle, and prefers to commute to work by bus. He has a laptop given to him by his organisation.
Rajinder earns a salary of Rs. 33,000 per month. Out of this, he pays Rs. 10,000 towards a home-loan EMI (Equated Monthly Installment). He sends Rs. 7–8000 to his parents for their monthly expenses. Every month, he spends Rs. 3000 for school fees and another Rs. 8000 towards bills and groceries. He has a bank account but confesses having no savings. ‘Mila jula ke jo kuch bhi milta hai sab kharch ho jata hai’ (whatever lump sum money I get, is utilised completely) he says, chuckling. He has also purchased a term insurance for 25 years for which he makes annual payments of Rs. 4500. At this point, I glance towards Rajinder’s wife. She is all smiles; I smile back and she acknowledges with a nod.
Rajinder tells me he took a bank loan of Rs. 8 lakhs to build his house. He constructed five rooms over 900 square feet space. I reckon he bought the land cheaper than most as it is right next to a graveyard.
Rajinder owns a smartphone which he bought for Rs. 7000. He tells me he uses it for calls, messages and for entertainment purposes. He also uses it for online transactions such as internet banking. Rajinder plans to continue his work as he has been recently promoted to a better position. He would only consider leaving it if he has chances of better growth elsewhere. ‘Jahan growth hogi company me wahi change karenge ham’ (I will only change my job where there will be better chances of growth) he says. He aspires to run his own business someday. Although he has never given it much thought he feels starting one’s own business is better than working for others. ‘Life ke liye better ho jata hai’ (That way, it gets easier to live) he says. In the future, he wants to expand his house by building a couple of storeys on top. When I ask him about his financial challenges he ponders for a moment before he says ‘I just want life to get better.’
Rajinder strikes me as optimistic and resourceful; almost entrepreneurial. He tells me he constantly strives for improving his situations for the sake of his family. Though I don’t know what he really means, I can see in him traits of a Provider — a husband, father and son. He is constantly thinking of improving his financial life as he moves from one goal to the next. When I ask him for a photograph, he wants his wife and son to join in too. Rajinder’s wife paces closer smiling shyly, her eyes reflecting the contentment of a homemaker. For the picture, she remains in the background. I suspect her support in the financial plans of the family is inevitable even if it is relegated to the background.