February 20th, 2016
Source: Humans of Bombay
“I lost my parents very early on and came to Bombay at the age of 6 with a relative. I began begging at signals since that age and eventually became a ragpicker. I’ve had a tough time on the streets, where I couldn’t defend myself on many occasions and had no food for days — Bombay isn’t friendly to us street rats. A few years later, when I was rag picking, a man came upto me and asked me if I wanted to work at a chai stall– and I immediately agreed! I began selling tea, and making my own money after working for almost 12 hours a day.
One evening, I was at a garden nearby when I saw people dressed in black robes practicing how to kick and I found out later that it was Martial Arts. I began observing this class everyday and decided to save money to learn more. When I did, my guru taught me a few techniques but whatever I’ve learnt is through observing. One of my customers introduced me to Youtube and I began to watch martial arts videos on borrowed laptops and began practicing on my own in this garden.
One day, a small street boy came upto and asked if I would teach him and I gladly agreed. As I began teaching him from whatever I knew, parents who watched became interested to enrol their children and that’s how I began to teach Martial Arts.
Although I make a little money from those who can afford it, my main aim is to teach children like me who have no money and no defence for themselves. I teach them for hours, free of cost to give them a career option, because they don’t even have money to study. I’ve also started teaching a group of girls from a nearby slum moves to defend themselves if any one tries to attack or abuse them– these girls need it the most. Whatever little money I save after rent and food, I invest in buying mats and gear for my children–I have no family so my entire life is for them now.
So while I’m still working as a chaiwallah, every evening I teach over 70 street children, because I know what I’ve been through during my days on the street and I don’t ever want another child to suffer the way I did– and guess what? Many of them are even taking part in tournaments all across India…they’re that good!”