As sweet as the candy he sells, Sarfuddin has a ready smile as he tells us how he has made this city his home. The Yo! Vizag team caught up with him as he was strolling by Timpany school.
‘Vizag became my home fifteen years ago. I wasn’t literate and took up candy making, because my cousins back in the village were already into this work. The biggest hurdle when I came here first was the language, as the locals didn’t know Hindi and I didn’t know Telugu.’
Candy was sold for Re.1 back then. So, the first Telugu words I learnt were ‘idi okka rupaai’ (laughs!).
‘Today not only is my Telugu better, but customers know Hindi too, so it’s much easier. My children aged 10 and 4 speak both languages fluently! My son’s name is Salman Khan and my daughter’s is Kajal. We named them so, as we both love Salman Khan very much. Actually my father’s name is Suleiman Khan. But then, I don’t go out to watch movies in the theatre, because it’s easier to watch TV at home.
Vizag is a very nice place, in fact everything about it is good. But my work keeps me busy every day, so we don’t go out much on outings with family. We do go to Agra once a year, where my relatives live. In Vizag, I work through the week right from morning to evening, irrespective of the weather. We wake up at 4AM to prepare the candy. Unlike the electric machines that exhibitions have, we make the candy by hand on a gas burner. It takes us an hour to prepare and pack 70 bags and then I take the earliest bus out of Scindia, where we live. I need to do that to avoid commuter rush, as that will lead to jostling and the candy bags can get spoilt. My sales depend on the places I choose and how far I walk in a day. I make a profit of Rs.200 on an average per day and holidays mean more sales.
While there aren’t many problems in my line of work, literacy would perhaps have given me a job that didn’t involve so much walking. Right now, my sales are directly proportional to how far I walk. All kinds of customers come and go every day, the worst are however those who are drunk. They not only open the packs and eat the candy, they refuse to pay and pick up big fights as well. My reason to earn money is to provide my children with the education I lacked. Then they would have a good job at an office. In the future, we can perhaps go back to Agra and open a small shop to sell candy and small toys.’