For years, postmen have been Centre’s sole representatives in faraway villages. Having more than 6,00,000 staff, India Post is the second largest employer in the country after Indian Railways. Most of the postal operations are now dedicated to villages, where postmen and the Grameen Dak Sevaks share most of the burden. They have served as the glue that have kept people and communities connected across length and breadth of the country as well as to foreign lands too. While the onset of Internet has loosened their hold, a huge number of people still depend on it to keep in touch with their loved ones. And what is more, while some top segments of work have closed, others keep opening, ensuring no dearth of demand for the men even today.
Post Master General M U Abdali indicated this strong link to a gathering of postmen while highlighting the importance of their jobs in Mirzapur on Saturday. He said, “It is not necessary to go to the border to serve the nation, but doing the work properly is also the way to serve the nation.” he was speaking at a mega mela for Grameen Dak Sevaks held for Mirzapur and Sonbhadra districts, which was the first in over 20 years. Considering the ongoing strike in the state over higher wages, Abdali was pleased with the turnout, an Indian Express report said. Here, we profile teh life of a few postmen/dak sevaks that will move you.
A letter which travels hundreds of miles completes the last leg of its journey in the postman or dak sevaks’s bag, to be delivered to the addressee. This chain in one particular instance came undone when a postman from Mumbai was found to have stopped delivering mail for two years deliberately as he was unable to cope with the workload. Postman S T Ballal had been delivering letters for over 27 years. Only six years were left to his retirement. The area he covered should have 43 postmen on paper, but it had only 22. The undelivered mail by him increased to a mammoth nearly 14,000. The scale of people affected is understandably huge and the impact on them would be bigger still. He is currently under suspension.
Satya Narayan had never heard of noted Bengali poet Sukanta Bhattacharya’s Runner. In the poem, Bhattacharya talked about of a solitary runner covering miles of village paths carrying letters of joy, memories, and sorrow. The poet said, “No one will ever read out a letter of his sorrow/Only the grass dotting his path is privy to his sadness.”
While Satya Narayan would never have heard of Ballal or his plight, yet he could well understand. However, he said that what the Mumbai postmen did was an aberration. He further said that people only have complaints against postmen, and no one is ready to hear them out.
In Kandhaura village, a settlement of about 900 families, Dayaram’s four-room house doubles up as the branch post-office. Just like him, most branch postmasters work from their homes. In this village of kuchcha huts, his is one of brick houses, the paper added. The second hand computer is also kept at his office, which was bought by his son from a friend.
It took three days for him and Satya Narayan for a trip to Mirzapur and also Rs 100 each. Both of them travelled part of the journey back ticketless on a train. “We can spend only so much,” Narayan told Indian Express. On their way back, both reached Mirchadhuri at 2 am. Dayaram and Narayan stopped over at the Radhore branch post-office to pick up the mail for Kandhaura as both of them also do the job of a ‘runner’, in the absence of one at the Kandhaura branch for last few years.
The work is tough and long and not all that rewarding, but for the postmen and dak sevak’s it is a duty they take seriously – with an eye out for better times to come.