Portraits From The Street – Rourkela: Bhikhu Charan Majhi: A daily wage worker who radiates determination.
The first thing about which you will notice about Bhikhu Bhai are his eyes. Bright with determination, they radiate hope. By profession, Bhikhu Charan Majhi is a carpenter. From doors to windows, furniture to wardrobes, he has made, lived and seen them all. Even though there isn’t a dearth of helpers around him, he trusts his own skills for efficiency and productivity.
A husband, and a father of two, he believes in the power of education and works hard to ensure that his children are not deprived of the same. “I want them to have a better life for them when they grow up.”
But not everyone is born with a silver spoon and luck in their favour. Some have to go through the toughest ordeals to even have a bare minimum. Bhikhu hails from Bargarh, Odisha and came to Rourkela in search of work, seven years ago. Even though he has a job but there is so much more that he aspires for.
He is paid on a daily basis at a meagre salary of Rs 250 per day . However, he is saddened by the fact that daily wage labourers like him are paid lower than what they truly deserve. Summers pose additional threats to the working conditions, so they have to be extra careful at work. Such hazardous working condition demands them to wear helmets, rough shoes and goggles. Even though the accessories are provided by the employer, but they turn out to being a bad shape, which he has to mend at his own expense.
‘I fell down from the 1st floor of the building once where I worked, due to a faulty ladder, and, as a result, was confined to bed for almost 3 months. However, I had to go back in the third month itself.’
“The acute shortage of water this summer has added to my suffering. With dehydrated bodies and never-ending work, it’s always edgy. But I have an incentive; my family.”
This guy also will surprise you with his gardening skills. “We are basically famers, so i am acquainted with the soil. I love spending time with plants when I am not working”, he smiles.
“I am eagerly waiting for 3 more years to pass by, after which, I will be eligible for pension. I have plans to set up my own shop then, where I can be my own employer and work on my own terms!”
About the Initiative – Portraits from the Street
When we started documenting Odisha for it’s remarkable stories – we looked for the obvious – places to eat, monuments, places to shop etc. Over time, we felt compelled to document and share real stories that make a city what it is – its people and create an exhaustive catalogue of smaller towns and people living there.
Portraits from the street is an attempt to get you unheard of stories from people’s lives and give a sneak-peek behind the endless tales etched on faces. It’s an effort to document real people, real struggle, real wins and some incomprehensible losses. Who knows what might end up inspiring us or even better, changing us altogether.
[Story and Photo Courtesy: Payal Mazumdar]