Meet Ramu Ghumman, the happiest man in Vasai A labourer who eats only when he earns, yet never complains

29, May 2021 | Mamta Pared

He sat there going about his work quietly, when I approached him. I did not want to startle him and had just taken a candid photo of him. I wanted to show it to the old man and ask if I could use it for my report. I wanted to know his name and age.

“I don’t know how old I am,” said Ramu Ghuman, the smile on his face now reaching his eyes. He seemed even more amused when I looked confused at his reply.

“How would I know my age, you tell me? I don’t, because I never visited school,” he exclaimed. His simple reply, made me pause, it was in fact a complex reply, that once explored would make anyone seek answers to questions of poverty, and deprivation, and the long-term consequences of both.

CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program aims at empowering young men and women, from the communities we work closely with, including migrant workers, Dalits, Adivasis, forest workers among other disadvantaged people, to report on issues closest to their hearts and home. Please Donate Now to empower our grassroots fellows.

Ramu Gumman, had migrated to Usgaon in Vasai taluka to work as a laborer. I asked him, “Why do you migrate even at this age, during this lockdown?”

“So, what do I eat at home?” he lobbed a question back at me. What will he eat if he does not migrate to find paid work? It stumped me into silence for a while. It also made me want to talk to him more.

“I have two daughters. They got married and went away. I don’t have a son. I stay with my wife and I need to work to be able to buy our daily meals,” he said, taking only a short pause between work.

He lives in Kundacha Pada (Pada is a place where Adivasis live together as a community) in Jawhar. It was 6:30 in the evening, and slowly the sun was hiding behind the mountain. Ramu Gumman was done with the paid labour work. This ‘work’ he was doing was for his home. He was busy making a broom from a palm tree leaf, that he had found. He needed a broom to sweep his home, so decided to make one himself. Why waste money and buy one!

Sometimes, life lessons pop up when you least expect it. Ramu Gumman, was the happiest man in Vasai that day it seems. The smile on his face, the deep meaning of his simple words about earning one’s daily bread, and of course the beautiful broom he made, were all inspirational.

This report is part of CJP’s Grassroots Fellowship Program, and has been written by Mamta Pared who hails from the Warli tribe and lives with her family in Nimbavali village in Palghar district. Here she showcases how life-long poverty and deprivation affect people’s approach to life and livelihood.

Meet Mamta Pared

Mamta Pared is a young Adivasi woman hailing from the Warli community. She lives with her family in Nimbavali village in Palghar district. Her mother is unlettered, while her father was educated up to the fourth standard. After they got married, her parents started working together at a brick kiln. Every year, their family used to migrate for employment and live near brick kilns, six out of twelve months. There are five siblings, the youngest was born when Mamta was five years old. As the eldest daughter in the family, she was responsible for caring for her siblings, and also helped with household chores. She had to skip school frequently and stay home to take care of her brothers. But she studied hard, passed scholarship exams, stayed in a government hostel, even borrowed money to pay college fees. Mamta eventually earned a Bachelor’s degree in Mass Media.



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