Beena Kashyap

Khadra

Beena came to live in Lucknow from Colonelganj after her wedding. Her husband, Raju, became a substance abuser, and also had a back ailment. He became incapable of running his shop. Apart from the responsibilities of bringing up five children, Beena went into business in 1995. She was 24 or 25 then. The initial years were tough. First, she sold her jewellery to meet expenses. When all her jewellery was gone, her father helped her financially. But Beena is very courageous and has a strong sense of self-worth. How long could she keep asking her father for money? Some neighbours suggested that she should take up house cleaning jobs. But she was determined to make the shop a success. Her mother in law suggested that she sell vegetables. Beena became a costermonger. She would rise before dawn and fetch vegetables from the vegetable market, and sell them all day. She hated the ambience of the wholesale market, and shared this with her family and friends. Then someone suggested that she should sell corn on the cob. She tried that as well. An elderly person then suggested that she should start a tea shop. Her husband was against the idea, but she went ahead. The first day, she sold tea made with 2 litres of mil within 2 hours. The next day, she got 5 litres of milk—that too sold out in 3 hours. The third day, she got 10 litres of milk, but was sold out again in 43 hours. The shop became famous as Bhauji’s or Bhabhi’s (sister in law’s) shop. She was soon selling tea prepared using 20 litres of a milk every day. Raju realized that the shop could earn enough for the family’s needs. He started working in the shop during night hours. For 10 years, the shop was open 24 × 7. Raju is now no more, but even today, the shop shits down for just two hours a day. Both of Beena’s sons work in the shop. The elder, Vicky, works from 10 AM to 1 AM the next morning. His younger brother Raja goes to bed early in the evening, so that he can wake up at 2:30 AM and re-open by 3 AM. Beena’s three daughters and two sons have completed school. Two of the older daughters are happily married. Beena has a dream—a plot of land of her own. Her dedication, and the encouragement of the people of Lucknow will soon make that dream come true soon enough.