A ball of sunshine – Maina offers laughter to customers during these trying times

Parvesh Chand sells bu (green coconuts) at Naveiwakau, Valelevu. Picture: SOPHIE RALULU

After being laid off work last month as a shop assistant, 27-year-old Parvesh Chand thought it was the end of the world until he was requested by his neighbour to assist her at her market stall in Naveiwakau, Valelevu.

Being the cheerful spirited-person he was, Maina as he is commonly known stepped up eagerly to assist at the Naveiwakau marketplace.

He offered his services to help his neighbour — Litia Nasake a single mother — manage her stall so she could run errands and shop. With a hearty laugh he explained how he got the name Maina.

It was given to him by his former boss because he was a chatter box, who always conjured up laughter wherever he was.

“It’s so true, whenever I’m around you’ll hear me talking or laughing out loud, it’s my nature — always noisy like mynah birds,” he said with a smile.

“When the second wave of COVID-19 hit the country last month I knew that was the final straw for my boss who operated a small shop in the Naveiwakau area and I accepted being laid-off work.

“I miss my old workplace and the wages I used to get because it was more than what I’m earning now and it allows me to contribute to the welfare of my family.

“However I am thankful to my neighbour Ms Nasake for allowing me to assist her at her stall, paying me enough to enable me to recharge my phone and buy a few things for myself,” he said.

The middle child of three siblings said he did not want to be a burden on his family as his father was a sole breadwinner and he was old enough to look after himself.

“I normally stay here at the stall with Litia and enjoy the day serving people and making them smile while we have lunch together and share a few laughs at the stall.

“COVID-19 has changed the world we know a lot and we cannot complain but the most important thing we can do in these trying times is to lookout for each other and lend a helping hand to those who need it.

“I like working at the stall because it is a way of meeting up with people from all walks of life and when I do so I try my best to put a smile on their faces because in this COVID-19 pandemic when everyone is stressed out, the biggest gift one could give a person is to put a smile on their face.

“It’s like a reward for myself when I hear people that come to our stall laugh or smile at one of my funny comments because I feel that I have made someone happy for the day.

“At the stall we sell vegetables, root crops and green coconuts which sell like hot cakes in this humid weather.”

After work, he returns to help his parents.

“These are trying times but to me I feel that I need to do what I can to at least help my family,” he said.

Ms Nasake described her assistant, as a ball of sunshine who also helps other vendors at the little marketplace.

“I have not regretted employing Maina’s services and we share the little we can from our stalls so that we have something to take back home to our loved ones,” she said.

“It is a blessing to have Maina with us, if he is not making our customers smile then he is spreading joy with us vendors cracking up a joke or doing something funny out of the blue. “As a single mother I have been doing odd jobs as a salesgirl in a lot of shops around Suva City but since COVID-19 I was laid off from work. “I have set up a table at this market to try and sell vegetables and root crops to make some money for me and my daughter.

“I always share with Maina that there is no shame in earning an honest living from one’s own sweat no matter the kind of work they did.”

Originally from Kalabu, Ms Nasake said they never ran out of customers because people were always out looking for vegetables and root crops as many opted to practise a healthy diet to combat the COVID-19 virus.

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