Master of All

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He is a plumber, hairdresser, painter, professional cook, mehandi artist, sports man and a carpenter. Meet Bilal Ahmad Ganaie, who multi-tasks to help his family of seven to get out of penury. Saima Rashid tells his story

Bilal-Ahmad-Ganaie

Born in a small village called Larkipora in Awantipora, Bilal Ahmad Ganaie, 27, is master of all trades, quite literally.

Eldest in the family of seven – two brother, two sisters, and his aged parents – Bilal does a little bit of everything to keep the hearth and hope burning. He starts his day as a plumber fixing tabs and erratic water connection in his village. By noon, he is a carpenter, busy making sofa and chairs. By evening he dons a Wazaa (traditional cook) dress and works through the night at local weddings. And if luck is on his side, he is called to apply mehandi (Hina) on bride’s hands. He is a born artist. However, if he is cooking at the bridegroom’s house, he can slip into a hairdresser’s role without any problem.

Bilal, who completed his bachelor’s in physical education from Amravati University in Mahrashtra in 2012, started working when he was just fourteen. “My father’s illness forced me to shoulder family’s responsibilities,” says Bilal.

While in Maharashtra, Bilal supported his studies, and his family back home, by doing odd jobs in his spare time.

Back home, during summer vacations, Bilal would work as labourer on construction sites to earn for the family.

“Those were tough times for me, I had to manage my expenses as well as my families,” says Bilal. “You can say I never had childhood in real sense.”

But multi-tasking, multi-talented Bilal’s first love is sport. So far Bilal has participated in national level Kho-Kho, volleyball and badminton championships, apart from being an ace runner and a swimmer. “I wanted to be a sportsperson,” says Bilal, who has also won medals in cricket during his school days.

Bilal feels circumstances never permitted him to express himself; that is why he began to paint his “silent emotions”.

During an inter-district competition, Bilal made a sketch of Dr Sir Mohammad Iqbal, leaving everybody speechless and full of praises. “When I paint, I try to give life to my paintings. My main focus is on eyes. It is our eyes that differentiate people from each other. Only a perfect pair of eyes can make a painting lively,” believes Bilal. “I usually finish a painting in a couple of hours.”

Bilal, a topper at Amravati University is hunting for a job unsuccessfully since he completed his studies. “I applied for the post of physical education teacher and topped the recruitment exams,” says Bilal, “But despite that I am jobless.”

Bilal has to constantly choose between his passion and responsibilities. “I left sports because I had to get my sister married. In order to do that I opted not to pursue my masters and rather work,” says Bilal.

Then Bilal gave up his studies so that his younger brothers can continue with theirs. “Somebody has to earn for the family. If all of us study then who will feed the family,” says Bilal.

Despite being the eldest in the family, Bilal plans to educate his siblings, and marry them, before thinking of settling down.

“I work at dozens places in a day doing different jobs just to see my family happy,” says Bilal.

Unlike other youth, Bilal says he cannot wait endlessly for a government job. “Till it happens, or if at all it happens, I have to keep the show going,” says Bilal. “I cannot wait forever with a degree in my hand.”

With next wedding season just round the corner Bilal is busy learning new mehandi designs, and a few recipes to stay relevant in the competition.

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