He is no ordinary tea seller. Look alike of Mahatma Gandhi, 70-year-old Sambhu Dayal Tamrakar ekes out his living from a mobile tea stall which he has mounted on a push cart. Clad in a white dhoti and half-sleeve kurta, he takes his push cart through busy markets of this dusty coal town.
His resemblance to Mahatma Gandhi does not end only with the looks but he has inscribed Gandhiji’s ideals relating to socialism, justice and non-violence on his push cart and has been adhering to them all through his life. His meagre earnings notwithstanding, he has been steadfastly donating 25 per cent of his total income towards distributing clothes and food to the poorer sections of the society every year on the occasion of Republic Day, Independence Day and Mahatma Gandhi’s birth anniversary. He also appeals through pamphlets to shopkeepers and businessmen to chip in with their contributions for the cause of serving the poorest of the poor.
“On these occasions every year, I contribute a small part of my earnings to distribute clothes and provide food free to the poorest of the poor. This is the lesson I have learnt from Gandhiji’s teachings which focus on serving underprivileged people,” he says.
But what could be his daily earnings? “I manage to earn Rs. 100 to Rs. 150 every day of which I keep aside 25 per cent for my social work and the rest is used to feed my family,” Mr. Tamrakar says with a sense of dignity and satisfaction without being worried on account of his own economic status. He has to support his wife, two daughters who are studying in school and a grown up son who is running a petty business in this coal town.
Earlier this year, Mr. Tamrakar sat on dharna in Dhanbad to demand that the government use all its resources to stop the auction of Gandhiji’s personal articles abroad. His protest action was highlighted by the media and he derived satisfaction from the fact that in his own small way he was successful in his efforts.
In his views on the present day politicians and politics, he sounds disillusioned and betrayed. “Mahatma Gandhi all his life struggled for social welfare but today’s politicians are only concerned about their own personal welfare. The day this trend changes, we will have meaningful and constructive policies of the government which will have poor, weak and downtrodden sections at their centre,” Mr. Tamrakar says.
Though his push cart is most visible in the busy Kendua Bazaar area of this town, the seller of “Gandhiji Lemon Tea” is a familiar name in other areas as well.
He pours piping hot tea in a plastic tumbler to which he adds rock salt, a pinch of powdered black pepper and a dash of fresh lemon juice. “This will clear your throat and will have a soothing effect on your system,” he quips. Great lessons of charity, social welfare, peace and harmony come through the humble ways of persons like Mr. Tamrakar who are not even counted as somebody amongst India’s billion-plus teeming population.