This interview was taken on a hot sunny afternoon at the ghanta ghar bazaar in Jodhpur. Poorva got introduced to Dinesh Bhai by a bangle vendor she had befriended. By the time they finished this interview, a dozen turban-clad men were surrounding the duo wanting to know more about Interviewing India and if Poorva was a foreigner. Read on as Dinesh, among other things, opens up about his heartbreak the way people in bigger cities seldom do.
Dinesh Rao, 29 years, Salesman, Jodhpur
Interviewed by Poorva Dinesh
Dinesh Bhai why did you decide to give us an interview on your life experiences?
My father was a farmer. We had a small house. I started working in this garment shop when I was 14. After working for so many years, I have gradually reached where I am today. I have raised my family single-handedly. I was 21 when I got married. I got married even before I could understand the ways of life. Now I have a son and a daughter. We are a happy family.
Do you consider yourself wise now?
Yes, I became wiser after my children were born. I had no clue what was going on before the kids came along.
Yes…now there must be an added pressure to feed and educate them…
Lets talk about your childhood.
I come from a very poor family. We didn’t even have enough food to eat. Things improved only after I started working. Until then, we had nothing.
Who gave you this job?
A neighbor got me here to work in this shop. He got to know our circumstances at home. I had failed four times in class 8. He knew my family didn’t have the money to educate me anymore. He thought of helping out by getting me a job that would fetch me a few hundreds a month and help the family survive. The school Madam even suggested I be put in an orphanage.
Things were that bad?
Yes. She said this to my mother. She suggested if I am put in an orphanage, my education will be taken care of. My mother didn’t want me to be away from her, so the neighbor decided to help us out.
I am very happy the neighbor showed kindness and it’s because of him I have reached where I am today.
Do you have siblings?
I have a younger brother. We are 9 family members in all.
How was your first day at the shop when you started working at 14?
It wasn’t easy. My first task was to sweep the pavement outside the shop. Many used to mock me saying I belonged in school and not in a shop. But what did they know about my circumstances?
But there is a world of a difference in my life then and now.
How is it different?
Today I spend 100 rupees in seconds. I even spend 1000 rupees in seconds. But back then I had to think hard about spending even one rupee. When it rained, our roofs used to leak and in a 4×6 house, five of us had to look for a place to sleep to avoid getting wet. There is really so much of a difference in my life now…
Yes, you are able to provide for your children.
My children have so much support today. In every aspect of life…my school fees was 18 rupees a month. Their school fees are 33300 rupees in an English medium school. There is a world of a difference between their education and the kind of education I received. Every day they get up and go to a school in a taxi, and I used to go to school carrying a theli (a cloth bag).
What has been the most difficult situation in your life so far?
This happened exactly 8 years ago. Everyone had gone out. Even my missus wasn’t there. All the gold from my house disappeared. It was worth five and a half lakhs. We looked for it everywhere, broke our head over it, but didn’t lodge a FIR because a few relatives were involved. We decided to bury this topic instead of making it a public issue. This hurt a lot though.
You don’t think of your lost gold anymore?
(Sighs) no madam. What’s gone, is gone. Its been about five years since I stopped thinking about it. Now my attitude is I will work hard, and earn it back.
That’s a great attitude. The last question has nothing to do with your interview topic. But we ask everyone we interview – what does love mean to you?
Love is everything to me. But I also feel love is betrayal.
I had a girlfriend. We were together for five years. After I proposed to her, her parents married her off to someone else within three days of my proposal. We met again six months after she got married. She told me it was destiny. We talk to each other even today, but we are happy in our respective lives.
Are you and your wife happy together?
Yes we are.
So is love for you not your wife?
It is. I am over my first love. But love is betrayal. Your first love always betrays you.
For most, the first love always turns out to be like this (Dinesh Bhai, Poorva and the audience witnessing this interview laugh).