Sixty-five-year-old Gollappa Patil clutches his cracked aluminium plate and waits for his turn to be served. He stands in a queue, along with others like him who have been abandoned or are destitute. They quietly collect four jowar rotis and some curry and rice in broken plates or polythene bags and hand over Re. 1.
By handing over that coin, they are not just buying food, but another day of survival.
For four decades, this nondescript garment shop in Kabraji Bazaar of the city has been providing meals to poor and homeless people at an unimaginably low price.
Hemant Nahar, the proprietor of the shop, personally serves the food every day between 1 p.m. and 3 p.m.
It was his father, Nathilal Nahar, who began the altruistic action of serving food to those in need in 1972 after there was a severe drought in the district. “My father could not bear to see people dying of starvation and so decided to provide food to people at the lowest price possible. In later days, many people belonging to the Jain community began giving donations,” says Mr. Hemant Nahar. Mr. Nahar has continued the good work after his father passed away two years ago.
He says that back in his father's time, food was sold for a mere 10 paisa. The money was collected to pay the salary of the cook or to pay the flour mill. It was later increased after the 10 paisa coin was withdrawn from circulation.
He says that when they first started serving food at the shop, over 100 people would come and buy food. However, now only around 50 people come to the shop to buy food every day.
He says that many people donate jowar and vegetables. “Some people also provide donations, which is again used to pay the salary of the cooks.”
“Till a few years ago, we were collecting 50 paisa, but after the 50 paisa coin was withdrawn from circulation, we increased the price to Re. 1,” he says.
Sometimes people who are unable to pay Re. 1 are given food for free.
Mr. Nahar says that feeding the poor and needy gives him spiritual satisfaction.
Keywords: human interest