At a tender age of 10, when pesky children nag their parents for sweets and toys, Younis was busy making wooden boxes to store the fruits grown in their family orchards. Despite belonging to a well-off family, Younis’s commitment to lead an independent life has made him an example for others, SYED ASMA reports.
When the children of his age were playing hide-and-seek or nagging their parents to buy sweets and toys, Younis Ahmed Wani was busy mking quick bucks. Along with his three brothers, Younis used to make wooden boxes (piati) to store apples grown in their orchards in district Pulwama’s Babhaar village. As his father was the only bread-winner of a family of seven, which included Younis’s grandparents, his mother, three brothers and one sister, Younis chose to earn on his own.
Each season, his father required 45,000 boxes to store the fruit and sell it in market. Younis says, “Rather than completely outsourcing the manufacturing of boxes, our father assigned the work to his four sons. But he used to pay us as he would have paid other labourers. The work of box making was usually done after their school.”
Each day, the four brothers including Younis used to make 10-15 boxes. On Sundays and other holidays, they used to make about 170-180 boxes for which they used to get 95 paisa per box. The box making was a seasonal work and usually lasted for two or three months. Younis continued to make boxes till he was in sixth standard. Then he decided to change his work and took up sheep rearing, a more profitable job which demands less labour and time.
Younis says he was youngest in his village to rear sheep. “I was a kid, I liked to play with them and they fetched me good returns.” Younis says he purchased only one sheep initially because he had no experience of sheep-rearing and there was deficiency of money.
He purchased his first sheep for Rs 1400 from the savings that he had made by making boxes, he recalls, but sold it for Rs 5000. “I must have spent around Rs 1000 and only few hours each day to rear it but it gave me a profit of Rs 3600 which was huge for a sixth grader,” says Younis. After making a good profit in the first instance, he decided to continue the sheep-rearing business.
Younis then purchased six sheep every year on Eid-ul-Azha and made a good profit. Till now, he says, he has made only one bad deal which happened last year. “I was residing in Srinagar and was busy with my studies but I had to sell my sheep at half the price. The deal was done by my family because my mother, who took care of the sheep in my absence, fell ill and no one was willing to take care of the sheep. I could not leave my studies. So we had to sell the sheep”.
For now, Younis has decided to stop the rearing business as he will be leaving to Agra for pursuing M.Phil at Bhim Rao Ambedkar University and PhD through Indira Gandhi National Open University. “After M Phil, I am planning to start a small business unit, I can generate employment opportunity for others as well,” says Younis.
Younis keeps his earnings to himself and does not share it with anybody, he says. He earns to manage his pocket money and other requirements. His studies are taken care of by his father since his birth.
“I always had enough money to finance my studies but I did not want to get detached from my parents. I wanted them to spend on my studies so that it gives them satisfaction that they accomplished their dream of educating me,” says Younis.
Younis dreams of becoming a self-sufficient man and wants to live an independent life, at least financially. He has a number of expensive, electronic gadgets which, he says, he has purchased on his own; the things his father would have never allowed him to purchase, he says with a smile.
He purchased a laptop, two cameras, got an internet connection and has travelled to almost every state of India, all financed by himself in ‘hard cash, onetime payments.’ Besides, he has managed to get a passport for himself and owns a pan card as well. “I wanted to buy a laptop but my father was reluctant. I convinced him since I had my own money and I just needed his permission”. Since he is financially independent, he feels he has a say in decision making at home as compared to his other siblings.
Asked to arrange a photographer for his sister’s wedding, Younis purchased a camera for Rs 18000. “We are five siblings and have many cousins. I thought marriage was going to be a frequent affair in our family, why not purchase a camera of our own?”He had Rs 15000 cash and borrowed the rest from his brother which, he says, he returned immediately.
“I even lend money to my father but I insist I should get it back. I want my brothers to become self-sufficient like me. If I keep on feeding them, they will be spoiled and will stop working”. Younis, a sociology post graduate, has managed to earn from his camera also. In his free time, he works as a wedding filmmaker in his village which fetched him good money.
Sadly, his many expensive mobile phones were taken by his family members, he says, regretfully sucking his lips, but continues with a smile. He takes out a simple low cost mobile and says “But I got something priceless. My father’s mobile! It is not very expensive but it is the most valuable thing I have. I cannot afford to lose it”.