From the station platform to the national rugby team

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Saidul was born into a big family on the Howrah side of the Hooghly River, just off the Andul Road. He has four brothers and two sisters. His family were too poor to live in a hut, so they slept under a blue plastic sheet, along with scores of other families, on the side of the road. Saidul’s father pulled a rickshaw, which was hard, gruelling work that did not provide sufficient money to give his large family regular meals. The food they ate was sporadic and often only consisted of boiled white rice, a little watery dhal with a lot of salt on top to give it flavour.

Saidul’s father was a small man who had to fight for everything in life; the rickshaw he pulled was always overloaded. He had to work long hours in all weather conditions on an empty stomach. In the scorching heat of the summer he panted and sweated; in the monsoon he was continually damp and soon covered in sores and boils the size of golf balls which erupted and produced enough pus to fill an egg cup. In the winter he always felt very cold, his joints stiffened and were painful. To kill the pain he took to ‘Tullu’, the cheap local hooch that so many of the poor drink in West Bengal.

The effect of the ‘Tullu’ on the family was quickly felt and devastating. Half crazed and angry, Saidul’s father would lash out and beat and swear at his young family. His wife, in trying to protect her children, got the brunt of his alcohol-enhanced rage. She took it for one year, but then could not bear it any longer and one night ran away...Life soon became unbearable for the children, and they too ran to the streets.  To read Saidul's complete story click here >>

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