77th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) : – ‘…. . and that I could do it without the support of lies. I did it with a friendship of truth alone.’
Shameem Ahmed (62)
Bread and Biscuits seller.
Shameem lives at a Bakery in Nandi Cinema lane opposite Bandra Station west. He bicycles from Bandra to Null Bazar (South Mumbai) daily, to deliver the Pau and Biscuits. It must be around 20 Kms one way, I think. He has been in this profession since 32 years. He is originally from UP, and his family lives there still.
When I met Shameem while cycling near Mahim Church, and after I told him what we can do for people like him (who use a bicycle to ply their goods of trade), even before I could ask him any more questions he said with wet eyes: – ‘…..sirf dua hi dua nikal rahi hai aap logon ke liye mere dil se.’ (‘Blessings and prayers flow from my heart for your donors…’)
Shameem arrived in Mumbai around 40 years ago. He has five children, 3 daughters and 2 sons; All his daughters and his eldest son are married. He added, ‘unlike many people who do not push themselves to educate their daughters, I never hesitated to spend my earnings on their education, so all my children are well educated.
When he said that, his eyes shone with such pride, I could have illuminated my path ahead on my ride at the dawn of 5am with that energy alone!
About his profession he said, ‘I like my profession, because I am independent, I am my own boss.’ And once again, his eyes shone with pride.
The most difficult period of his life was the death of his wife, nearly 20-22 years ago. She died during child birth, when she had twins, and one child died along with her.
However, he never remarried, and thereafter he says he devoted himself to bringing up his children singlehandedly, trying to play the role of both parents however challenging it was.
I asked him what other challenges has he faced that may have overwhelmed him?
Shameem replied (after a pause)… ‘I have faced challenges all my life. (pause) Actually, its been like that ever since childhood. And it continues now. (pause) However, my parents had prepared me for this when I was a child. My mother had advised me – Son, you have ahead of you only troubles and challenges in life. We will not be able to do much for you on that count. The only way ahead for you in life will be to believe in God and His mercies, His benevolence. From now on count only yourself and on Him.’
Shameem was feeling very blessed (and obligated that some strangers are donating a bike to him even though he was willingly bearing nearly have the cost of the donated bike!), I asked him, ‘…After living for 62 years, being your own boss since your very first profession, having lost your wife so early in life and a child, bringing up 5 children by yourself, getting them educated and married successfully, what is your biggest blessing? Or, what are you most proud about from all that you have been able to achieve so far?’
Shameem replied, ‘I feel I blessed that I was able to give my children the best education I possibly could from whatever I managed to earn. And that I could do it without the support of lies. I did whatever I did with a friendship of truth alone.’
Education was so important to him. Even when he spoke to me about his eldest son’s recent marriage, he had said, ‘….I am very blessed that I got a daughter-in-law who is far more educated than my son. In spite of my son being just a 12th Std pass, the girl and her family wanted him as their son-in-law, even though she herself is a graduate. I feel we do not match up to them in that way, and yet they were very keen to have my son as their son-in-law!’
Education was so important to Shameem, it reminded me of – ‘Poor people cannot rely on government to help them in time of need. The poor have to get their education on their own; and if you do get it on your own, then no one, not the government, not family, no one else can steer your destiny but you!’ – Charles Berkley. (A retired American professional basketball player and analyst on a television program)
MOST IMPORTANTLY- Shameem paid nearly half the cost of this new bicycle. The balance was paid from the voluntary donations we had collected from various past recipients of used/old bicycles.
The following past recipients paid for it by donating amounts varying from Rs 100 to Rs 500: Sofikul Shaikh – Coconut wala; Chaurasia – Bhel wala; David – Bread wala; Babu Prajapati – Assistant Mason and Carpenter; Rakesh Kumar – Dhobi; Rajesh Sahani – Carpenter; Amit Sahu – Kulfi Falooda wala.
Thank you to all of them, and to our past donors who had donated new bicycles to make this possible.