Keonjhar: Taxis and auto-rickshaws have virtually elbowed out rickshaw pullers out of the roads in Keonjhar town. Laxmidhar Palei, however, is one such man who continues to pull his rickshaw to earn his livelihood here.
Laxmidhar is a resident of Mahadeijoda under Keonjhar Sadar block. His family comprises four members–he, his wife Rahas Palei, a son and a daughter.
Some of his fellow rickshaw pullers have switched over to auto-rickshaws but Laxmidhar couldn’t, for one or the other reasons.
“I have nothing to complain about my luck. Rather, I am thankful to the God for sailing my family though all difficulties,” says Laxmidhar while being perched on the rickshaw seat.
After having breakfast, he leaves his house with his rickshaw. He returns home in the afternoon to have his lunch. Then again he goes out and comes back at night.
“I earn something between Rs 300 and 500. Nowadays, each and everything is getting costlier. However, my earnings never fall short to meet my family’s requirement,” says a confident Laxmidhar.
“I have been pulling rickshaw for last 25 years. In those days there used to be only rickshaws on the road. We used to make good bucks as well. Now people have their own two and four-wheelers. If that was not enough, there are hundreds of auto-rickshaws plying everywhere. All of these together have eaten away into our earnings. That said, luck keeps smiling at me,” he asserts.
“My rickshaw still stands testimony to those golden days. In those days, my customers included higher government officials, businessmen and noted personalities. They would often praise me for my safe pulling. Some would even tip me some change over the normal fare,” recounts Laxmidhar.
Before bidding adieu, Laxmidhar says he will pull his rickshaw till his body allows him to do. Watching him pedal away, few words of Md Sikandar Alam’s famous song ‘Mu Rickshaw wala..’ automatically came to this correspondent’s lips.