He arrived in Bangalore from Andhra Pradesh 15 years ago with dreams of going to high school. But none of his relatives here helped him get admission. Jayaram says his father died of ulcers, when he was 14. And so after loitering around for a year, he was sent to a small neighbourhood tailoring shop in Mathikere, to be a tailoring assistant.
Today, 25-year-old Jayaram ekes out a living as a tailor in a boutique in Malleshwaram, providing for his mother. But the journey so far hasn’t been easy. After years of learning to just hem as a tailoring assistant, he finally moved on to work in a garment factory in Nelamangala, and learnt the ropes of production tailoring. “We would stitch whatever the tailoring master taught us to — it was mostly jerkins, pants, and nightdress suits that I would stitch. All of them were for export.” The hours were long, the money a pittance. So he moved on to work in a boutique in Ashok Nagar till he landed here, and works better hours and on a weekly salary. His three older sisters are married.
“I have to pay the house rent, which is Rs. 2,000 and then I have a ration card that gets us the kerosene supply for cooking.” He’s got his Aaadhar card but sees no use in it. “It proves I’m an Indian. But of what other use is it to me?” he asks.
“Money makes you do all sorts of things…,” he says. Along with his tailoring job, he also worked for a year as a helper in a nearby hospital, doing night shifts, buying medicines for patients, shifting patients etc, and barely sleeping three hours a night. “After a few months, the pay became irregular. I quit and they still haven’t given me my PF,” he says, cursing the management. Is he interested in his work? “No work is boring if it brings money,” he says with evident sarcasm. “My life runs on this.” He says he can’t marry because he has no money; he doesn’t save any money.
He’s pretty cynical of the way the world around him changes, while nothing really changes for him. “Every government says it will help people like me. I don’t have a house of my own. Maybe if you write about me, they’ll give me a house?” he wonders. When he first came to Bangalore and settled in Mathikere, he says the place was so “empty”. “There were some small houses. Now it’s so huge, and filled with big buildings. Once, more money comes into their hands, people also change,” he says, as he continues to stitch the sleeve of a kurta on his sewing machine, wondering “what’s in it for me”, giving this interview!