Through hardships faced as a child to sleepless nights spent at work as an adult, he has endured it all. Unshakable ethics in business and deep rooted personal values define Narayan Lal Prajapat, a 27 year old businessman, B.A. and double M.A. in History and Sociology, father of three and owner of a poha stall near Udiapol bus stand.
And to top it all, a handsome 5 figures monthly net profit by selling Poha after midnight till early morning at Udiapol.
Wearing a very genuine warm smile on his face, he serves ‘poha’, an appetizing fluorescent rice flakes which he prepares by himself.
Most of his customers, which are a diverse group of workers, students, officers or mere travellers, do not have any idea who they are dealing with on the other side of the poha stall. Many of them are his regular customers, while others are just passersby attracted to the favorite Indian snack.
So why does he study so much if he has to sell poha?
He said that studying is his passion, “I have been good at studies since my childhood. But to support our financial condition, I used to help my father with this stall since I was in standard VI.”
“I was in Xth standard when our stall was removed from Udiapol Bus Stand leaving us jobless. I dropped-out from school and went to Mumbai with my father. There we sold vada-pao for the next three years”, he remembers.
When Narayan came back from Mumbai, his zeal to study was still there. He applied in the same school where he used to study prior to leaving for Mumbai but was denied admission citing the reasons of his three years gap.
He took admission in B.N. School and passed Xth board with an aggregate of 70%. “I went to show my mark sheet to my old school Principal who had denied me admission,” he says triumphantly.
He went on to score an aggregate of 74% in the XIIth Board exams.
Out of curiosity, when asked about his wife’s opinion about his work and if she ever asked him to leave it and do something else, he replied, “She never asked me any such thing. Why would she? After all, I earn more than many MBA’s and servicemen in Udaipur. We are famous in Udaipur for our poha.“
“Many people who used to be our regular customer have reached high places, but they do not forget us. They still call me sometimes and many of them make sure that they visit us whenever they visit Udaipur. It is more than business that I do, I invest in our relationship with customers,” he adds.
His sleep deprived eyes tell us the amount of hard work he puts in his work. Unlike regular Udaipurites, Narayan’s day starts at midnight when he wakes up for a long day ahead. He starts for Surajpol and prepares his source of daily earning, the delicious poha, which he learned preparing from his father.
Then at around 3:30AM, he reaches Udiapol and sells poha till 10:30AM. Rest of his day is spent in market works, picking kids from school, etc. We had already guessed it but still asked him the number of hours he sleeps; he shakes his head saying, “4-5 hours maximum, and that too not a continuous one”.
To a question of whether it is difficult to follow such an unusual schedule, he smiles and replies, “Initially it was, but now it is a habit. If we feel tired after working for 15-20 days then we take a break for a day.”
Two of his kids, a boy and a girl, go to school. So what does he think about girl child education? “What about it? My girl goes to school and she will continue to do so as long as she wants.”
His younger brother is not so good with studies and he is about to get married later this year. “But his would-be spouse is good at studies and I have already told her that if she wants to study further after marriage, I will support her”, says Narayan.
This was an enlightening moment. The value and importance that people like Narayan Lal Prajapat give to female education could probably be the biggest eye-opener for the people of the low literacy quotient state of Rajasthan and in fact, for the whole of India, where still in many families, women are considered a burden and a girl child taboo and her education is not given a due importance.
Further, the real glamour of life, how difficulties make a good person better, how education plays an important part in developing human psyche and inculcates good values is something that can be learned from Narayan Lal Prajapat. Hats Off!