53rd recipient of livelihood bicycle: ‘Yes, we know what you mean by charity, and we are willing to be part of your charity too; because, even we have always been doing charity. My father taught me, if you ever find a coin or note fallen on the street, whatever be the value of that currency you find, never pocket it, give it to someone poor. But before you give it to a poor person you must…’
Name: Sofikul Sheikh. (19 years)
Profession: Coconut seller. (Lives at Khar Danda village with friends, all coconut sellers, from his village)
Sofikul is from Jharkhand, he arrived in Mumbai a week ago to earn a livelihood. His cousin brother, Saajan, is a coconut seller in Mumbai since a few years and he received a bicycle from us sometime last year.
Both of Sofikul’s elder brothers have left home long ago to be on their own, and have left him the sole responsibility of earning a livelihood for their huge family of 7 people! His father is kind of invalid, because after his brain surgery, a tumor I think, he loses his mind very often, so he is unable to work.
He cannot take his father to a doctor because they just do not have any money for his cure. Sofikul is the sole breadwinner! He has been working since the age of 6!!!
(My God!, at just 19 he is a bread earner! I thought to myself, ‘Where was I, when I was 19?’ – I was in junior college; and even bunking classes to watch movies and hang at a restaurant near my college that sold the best samosas!)
Sofikul has never been to school, so I asked him quite innocently, how come he never went to school…?, He asked me back, quite challengingly, ‘If I could go to school, how would my parents have fed my younger 4 sisters and brother?!’ (I did not know where to look! :p !)
Anyways, I continued with my questions, and found out that until a few weeks ago he used to work as a laborer in the fields, back in the village, and from that money he has also been educating his sisters and his younger brother too!!! He sends his younger siblings to a teacher who teaches them languages.
However, the income from working in the fields was far too less to support his parents and family, so he left his village a week ago and came to Mumbai.
He told me, one of his sisters is now of marriageable age, so, he needs to earn money to help her get married! Because invariably, the groom will ask for ‘dahej’! (Dowry!), he lamented, so, he needs to make enough money to at least give his sister a good enough dowry!
I asked him, which has been the happiest moment in his life so far?, he replied, ‘None; I just need to earn money for my family, and only when my profession does well will I be happy. And when I can manage to get all my 4 sisters married, only then I will be the happiest! ’
Hearing Sofikul’s speak of his immense sense of responsibility towards his invalid father and his marriageable sister, I simply had no words to express my admiration of this young adult’s spirit and grave mission statement!
I explained to Sofikul, that the old but good condition bicycle that we want to donate to him, for that, would he be willing to donate Rs 500? I assured him it is not a fee for the bike, so he does not have to donate anything and can just take the bike for free.
I explained to him that his donation will go into a kitty to buy a new bicycle for donation someday when the kitty amounts to nearly Rs 5000.
Sofikul agreed immediately, and his cousin Saajan handed me Rs 500 as their donation!
Once again I tried to impress upon them, that by giving us this donation of Rs 500 for the old bicycle, they too are doing a charitable act, along with the donor of this bicycle Javed Mahadik.
And this is what Sofikul, and his cousin brother Saajan who was also present, told me, (and I have never heard something like this before!!) :
– ‘Yes, we know what you mean by charity, and we are willing to be part of your charity too; because, even we have always been doing charity.
My father taught me, if you ever find a coin or note fallen on the street, whatever be the value of that currency you find, never pocket it, give it to someone poor. But before you give it to a poor person you must add to it the same amount you found. What you found on the street was not yours to begin with, so by giving it away to a poor person you are not doing any charity. It’s only when you double it, add something to that amount from your own earnings and then give away that sum, only that is true charity!’
I was rendered speechless! As a kid, I had usually pocketed coins I had found while riding my bicycle or playing in the park and had ice-lollies from them! Hahahahah seriously!
And as an adult, I would hand fallen coins and notes to beggars. Now, these two coconut sellers taught me a great and true lesson in charity! Thank you!!!
Thank you to Javed Mahadik, for donating a new bicycle to Dhobi Rajendra ; it is Rajendra’s old used bike we donated to Sofikul.
And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good service.