(For earlier part click here)
Meanwhile their two sisters had to be married off. And married off they were to widowers almost twice their age.
At that time Kittu pledged that whenever he married, it would be to someone who was good natured, intelligent and hardworking and not because her family had money. Money would be the least in his criterion, he decided.
His two brothers who had dropped out of school because of their family conditions took care of educating themselves nevertheless. The elder Raghav started his provision shop and the other brother Sudarshan also opened his own shop in another nearby town.
Kittu meanwhile funded his own education and gave the surplus to his mother. Now they were staying in a rented place which was far better than the shed they had been forced to stay earlier.
Kittu passed his Intermediate with flying colours and then was eligible to join Engineering but the question was how to pay for the fees. And so he opted for Diploma. His sister Savitri who stayed in the city invited him to stay with them. But the original problem still remained….how to pay fees. Though Savitri was fairly well off, he did not want to be a burden on her. Studies were hard too, so he had very less time to work but work he had to.
It was at that time he came in contact with Harish. Harish was a man of similar circumstances who had to work as a truck driver to earn some money. He and a couple of his friends all of them had been forced by situations to quit studies. And Kittu had a brilliant idea to start a ‘tutorial’ for them. He borrowed books on simple mathematics, geography, science and some scripture too. Whatever his students offered he accepted as fees he accepted. Someone gave a bag of rice, someone an old pair of trousers and some plain currency. And so in the Hall of his sister’s residence, Kittu’s adult education centre flourished.
Savitri’s husband Mani, loved Kittu as his own and so whatever good Kittu did, Mani offered his support whole heartedly. Owing to malnutrition at a young age on part of Savitri and advanced age factors on part of Mani, they did not have any children of their own. But there was this family whom they had befriended who had about six children and out of those six, one Mani cherished. The family would have gladly given him to Mani for it was difficult for them to feed so many. But the times were different then. Adoption was frowned upon and that too among different castes.
It was Kittu and his troop who stood up for Mani and Savitri. They adopted the cherub and named him Prakash. And though the society gave troubles, Kittu and his friends saw that the small family wasp protected. For some time none of the shopkeepers gave any provisions, Savitri was not allowed to draw water from the common well, people spat on the path Mani walked, his business dwindled but after some time when people saw that nothing could deter Mani and Savitri, their opposition died its own death.
For Mani and Savitri, Kittu became even more precious. And for his students an example, that if you believed in something, you could remain steadfast on it.
His eldest brother Raghav meanwhile got married and he moved to another house nearby. Sudarshan was doing well too in another city. Raghav came to know of another shop available on rent and so he took it and gave his old shop to the youngest, the darling of all, Mohan.
Mohan though the darling of all was not that enterprising. Though circumstances were favourable for him, he did not study beyond his eighth grade.(to be continued)