Meet Vinod

The Indian festive season is back again, with a bang and as usual…the money earners are spending their hard-earned (and not so hard-earned for the obvious ones) money. For those who do not know (my fellow bloggers from outside India)..Diwali in India and the events before and after them, are the most awaited of all festivals all across India and for Indians across the world. Though Diwali is a well-known celebration, there are many related festivals associated with it. Though not entirely related, one of them is Karvachauth (read here to know more). This is an age-old traditional fasting done by the wives for the long life of the Husbands…their own …actually!!

But that is not what I want to talk about today. I want to bring to you a simple context which became my story here. Meet Vinod. A 15-year-old any-other- teen-guy from Dausa in Rajasthan. He makes a living during this festive season in North India by applying henna / mehendi on women’s palms, hands, feet (right up to the calf area..ahem) – Now that’s exciting..yeah – but requires a great deal of skill. (Check this out).

Applying Henna is nothing new to this part of the world, especially during the festive season or marriages(which in itself becomes a great celebration up here), but this time around, it becomes an industry, comprising of loads of workers who come from all over North and churn their art on the ladies, with supervisors and project managers looking after different areas in the cities…money exchanging hands by the hundreds, profits shared and un-shared – there are bits and pieces of squabbles too..over this loot!

But what has Vinod got to do with this story…I deviate yet again!! Ok let it come out like a hammer, Vinod is married and that too for about 5 years!! Yes, you got it right…and you know what, the poor chap did not know what happened with him on that fateful day (this part, husbands, is not new). Vinod as I say is a victim (read-husband) from a child marriage, which is so prevalent in many places across India and Rajasthan is not different – yet denied!! I am not going to talk on Child Marriage…its Vinod I am talking about. Child Marriage is a bane and shameful at that and I will keep it limited to only these few words.

Vinod, now know of his status, is now a bread earner, he knows one day, his wife is going to come stay with him and he knows how to fight for his money. It so happens that to apply henna a customer has to pay x amount per hand and rates depend on the design and application. The thekedaar (contractor), want more and more customers and hence he wants faster application of mehendi (henna). Vinod being new in the trade, is slower than the rest. So the contractor usually makes two people work on two different hands on a lady to make a faster exit and quicker buck. So two different people get paid. Vinod does not want that..he says the contractor  does it often and hence he will not allow that…he needs to earn more and hence refused to give his part of the “hand” to someone else.

And not only did he ask the contractor “politely”, he asked us to agree and we did! Vinod not only defended his art, his earnings, but also showed some sense of responsibility, because he knew, somewhere he was aware that he had someone in his village who would also be keeping a fast for him. Such tenacity..away from most of his folks, in the millenium city, earning money and making his mark!

Vinod worked on my mother’s hands and let me tell you…he did a pretty good job – nice delicate designs and very quite exquisite. Could not take a snap of the work done. So not withstanding the fact of a mehendi-job, I was happy to have met this guy, brought forth a few things which India has known to have, is denied always, but is very much prevalent. But that’s a discussion for later.

Cheers for the many Vinods we have not got the chance to know!! This one is for them.


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