He was just loafing around when he found a bundle of broomsticks lying on the road. He was a little kid. He picked up a few and walked to the nearby market. Soon, he had fifty rupees in his pocket.
He bought more broomsticks with that money and went back to the market. He came back with Rs 80 this time. This became a routine. He used to buy broomsticks and sell them off in a market. One broom would cost him around seven rupees and he would sell it for ten. The three rupees he made were enough to earn him about Rs 200 to 300 a day.
He was just fifteen years old. His mother teasingly called him a ‘big bijnesman’. He felt good. He took the rickety bus from his village and went around to nearby towns with his brooms. Sitting on the terrace with his legs folded, hair ruffled in the wind. His torn shirt and dusty pants were no indicators of how shiny his dreams were. He kept the cost of transport down to a minimum, arranging deals with the bus drivers and cart pullers.
He began saving money and slowly had enough to start his own broom-making business. He hired a few helps and went to the jungle. There, he collected palm leaves and came back to his house. Slowly, he learned how to make perfect brooms. He started getting bulk orders. The money got bigger.
One day as he sat outside his house, peeling the stems and making broomsticks, a passerby remarked that this work didn’t suit his caste. ‘The broom and basket making crafts are reserved for lower castes,’ he said. And then slowly there were more people taunting him. In his village, his father started getting harassed. So he stopped.
Now he works as a peon in an office. He could have been the broom-maker everyone envied in the village, a successful businessman; but that would have been beneath him. So now, he sits outside an office and runs in with a tray of water and tea whenever a bell is rung.