I entered the busy and crowded Ranganathan street Mambalam vegetable market. Sitting in the middle was Mrs. Vijayalakshmi selling vegetables. I moved on to have a little chat with her. She started telling me about her children. She has two children, both studying in good private schools. She said her father sent her to school, but she left it half way through and now regrets for it. She pointed to her father sitting opposite her shop. She has been running the shop for more than 20 years and her father for about 43 years.

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I asked her about the working conditions, the road and sanitation. She tells me “This place is not owned by us. Vegetable lorries come and go and we have to remove the stall when they come. But we’re grateful that we have got a place to earn a living. When it rains, the place becomes bad with rotten vegetable smell and water stagnating”.

I moved to her father’s stall. I remembered the saying ‘old is gold’. He was very old. He didn’t even remember his date of birth. But he was energetic and strong. I asked him why he still worked at this old age. He said “I have three children and all are well settled now. I couldn’t study, so I made them study. I am happy to see my grandchildren studying well in good schools. Had I been educated, I would have grown up to a good level in life. But, I will earn my own living till my life’s end”. I was inspired by his determination.

The people at the market are hard working and illustrious. I found that they wake up at 3 a.m. and are at their work till late evening. They go to the wholesale market, procure what they want for the day’s sale, come back to their stalls and start their business. There are lessons we too should learn from these simple people. Hard work and determination are a few among them to be inspired.