Braving odds on a wing and a prayer

PERSONAL ACCOUNT

His face has turned pale and body frail. His dishevelled appearance reveals that he hasn’t had food properly and a bath in the last few days.

Things are not perfect anymore, as Vicky Sharma wishes them to be. Nothing to eat and no place to sleep and a plastic banner that doubles up as his blanket and a leather bag, crammed with documents, as his pillow.

A graduate and a diploma holder in engineering, Sharma, hails from Doda district of Jammu and Kashmir and is now one amongst the hundreds of homeless, who are braving the harsh winters on the city’s roads.

With no place in the shelter homes, Sharma has made a parking lot near Patel Chowk Metro Station his temporary place to sleep.

“We are six people staying near the Metro Station. But we don’t sleep there each day. Every alternate day the police lathicharges us. So we have to run from there and have to sleep on the pavements and dividers,” says Sharma.

His voice is calm, as if running helter skelter with his frugal possessions has become a routine task. Suddenly, he opens his leather bags and shows the poster he covers himself with for protection against the winter chill.

“This is my blanket,” he says with a smirk. Some papers and files are also visible, placed neatly inside the bag. “These are my ID proofs, certificates and the copy of the FIR I filed, when my bag was stolen from Gurdwara Bangla Sahib.” 

Three months back, Sharma had come to the city for the first time in the hope of securing a government job in any technical department. He decided to halt at Gurdwara Bangla Sahib. But destiny had something else in store for him. All his belongings were stolen from there.

“At that time, there was no solution except to go back home, to my family. But I had no intention to do that,” he says, his voice no longer calm. It was steely determination that resounded. “I have a complete family in Doda, four brothers and a sister. We don’t have any financial issues because all my siblings are working. But I decided not to tell them about my problem. I filed an FIR and once again applied for ID proof,” says Sharma, showing the ‘Aadhar Card’ he has recently received.

The 24-year-old had no intention to go back, so he decided to bravely face the struggle he envisages ahead. For the last few days, he has been working as a labourer at a construction site at Hanuman Road. He earns Rs 300 per day and spends almost Rs 40 per meal. “I have a bank account too, so I am also saving money,” says the young lad. He has been trying to create awareness among other homeless people too about the importance of saving.

“Generally, daily wage workers save their money in digs. Yet, money gets stolen and they are unable to save a penny. I am helping my friends to get a savings account opened in government banks so that one day we are able to overcome our poor condition,” he says.

For Sharma, the only motive in life is to get a government job in Delhi and no longer remain homeless, battling the atrocities of weather and life. “Jahan gire hain, wahin se khade bhi honge (I will stand once again despite several falls),” says the youngster emphatically, a hint of a smile playing on his lips.

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