BHADRAK: The sizzling summer and intense heat wave might have scorched the State prompting everyone to stay indoors, but it has turned a boon for a teenager. For, he finds the demand for his home-made herbal drink rising. Business apart, it has emboldened his enthusiasm as he struggles to supplement his family income. His aim - to see his younger brothers educated.
The story of street vendor Mohammad Samir (14) can be an example of family bondage and social responsibility. Samir’s family includes three younger brothers and widow mother.
Hailing from a village in Bans-Bareilly of Uttar Pradesh, Samir had a normal childhood though not very well off. But it was short-lived as he lost his father at a tender age of 11. His world took a rough and harsh turn then.
Samir, who was studying in Class VI, was forced to leave his school due to family’s financial crunch and lack of help from relatives. Samir’s mother Ruksana Bibi along with her children shifted to her sister’s place in Bhadrak after her husband’s demise.
Though Rukshana started working as a ‘bawarchi’ (cook) at a primary school in Nagamahal under Bhadrak Municipality, Samir realised that his mother’s income of `1000 per month was not adequate to look after the family. He then decided to help his mother in her struggle to meet both ends. He started selling cool mint water that was prepared by his mother.
He has been selling mint water at the bus stand, traffic square and District Collector’s office in the town for past two years.
“Ami had no option as there was no one in Bareilly to help us. Uncle gave us shelter in his house here. But after my mother got the job of a cook at a local school, we left uncle’s house. Now we are residing in a small rented house at Nangamahala under Bhadrak Municipality,” Samir said. Mint water made of pudina (mint) leaves, black salt, ginger, and other spices is a coolant which helps to keep the body cool and beat the scorching heat of summer.
There is a huge demand of mint water in UP, Samir said. “Here too people have started to like the coolant and I manage to sell nearly 60 glasses daily. Though each glass costs only `10, I get `250. The pudina leaf is costly in Odisha,” he added.
Despite the hardship and strain, Samir is happy. Because he can contribute to the education of his brothers who are studying in a primary school. He manages to afford their books and other materials including the uniform.