117th recipient – I may be just a Banana, but this is what I have to say…

117 fruit shankar lal gupta

117th recipient of help (livelihood bicycle) :

“I may be just a Banana, :p but this is what I have to say,
Hangin-in with my buddies while you peeps go about your day.”

Shankar Lal Gupta. (50s, I think)

Fruit seller.

Shankar is from UP. He sells fruit off Carter road and at Rajan Sherley village, Bandra west.
Shankar arrived in Mumbai in 1985. Even before he grew up to be a youth, his childhood had vanished. His father, a brick kiln worker, expired when he was one year old.
His mother took the reins of their household in her hands, and doing odd jobs she brought up her family of three brothers and two sisters. His elder brothers also pitched in, working as daily wages workers for landowners and farmers.
The sad thing, he has no photograph of their father. The saddest, he has no memory of him. 😦

There were so many questions, Dad,
That I needed answers to,
But why did you leave so early?
That there was just no way to ask you.

And then you also left no photos,
For me to remember you by,
Now every time I look at the empty frame in my heart, I can even no longer cry.

When Shankar was in class ten, his widowed and working mother arrived at the choice of either feeding the family adequately or paying for his studies. Illiteracy was more bearable than hunger. He had to stop his studies thereafter.

Shankar’s elder brother arrived in Mumbai before him and became a Banana seller. When Shankar came here in 1985, he began assisting his brother at Nalasopara, and later be began working for a Banana seller at Khar west. Shankar has two daughters and two sons. They live and study in Mumbai.

Shankar’s choice of becoming a Banana seller set him on the path to becoming a fruit seller. And a successful one. The biggest advantage of migrating to Mumbai, he has become financially independent, because of which he has been able to give his family a life of dignity. They have never had to aim their open palms towards anyone for alms. I shuddered as I thought, looking at this proud yet humble man, did his circumstances during his childhood ever force him to open his tiny innocent palms to the kindness of others?

I persisted, out of sincere curiosity and empathy. I asked him, if he ever had to swallow his dignity to gain something.

Shankar replied, back in the village when he was growing up, poverty bent their backs. Though they never had to beg, they had to bend their back forward on most occasions. Not just to find work, but even when they had done the hardest of work they had to bend forward and choose the politest of words to ask for what is due to them, ensure that they are paid adequately or paid at least something. And if not money, then at least paid in grains or vegetables.

I felt sad, that many millions have to beg for what is owed to them by the economically powerful, and maybe also by those powerful by caste and economically powerful, considering the caste system was exploited by many higher ups.

Dignity. So important to people across demographics. Across caste and race.
As a tribute to people like Shankar who with hard work managed to keep their dignity un-hurt, un-broken, un-shattered, or all of these, here is a tribute by Sandra Juanita Nailing:

Your dignity should reflect everything you are.
If you use it wisely, you can go really very far.

Your dignity should reflect what you stand for; no matter what is said.
It will cause you to soar high, far above others’ deeds and heads.

Always keep your dignity, regardless what others do.
Having a sense of dignity will surely carry you through.

For someone like Shankar, who patiently resurrected him family on the formidable shoulders of the fragile, soft and sweet banana, I thought, the humble Banana must be definitely an equal to the mighty king of fruits, the Mango. 🙂

Speaking of bananas, yummmyyy, I decided to express what a really crazy, but really sweet, banana once confided in me, before willingly surrendering and sacrificing his existence to my ravishing hunger:

“I may be just a Banana, :p but this is what I have to say,
Hangin-in with my buddies while you peeps go about your day.

Peeps without any patience can go Bananas, and it has nothing to do with having me, :p
My core is healthy, and I keep the patience that my lover will eventually come peel me. 😉

My lovers they crave me, and besides being sweet I have a very sexy shape, 😉
I get treated so royally, to get my soft core to their lips they first me-undrape! 🙂

I may be tiny and fragile, and not a king of fruits, and not as sweet as the delicious grape,
And though I am tiny and soft hearted, I am loved even by the mighty Elephants and Apes.

My humble peel below your mighty feet can make even a formidable giant slip,
Those who can carry me on their shoulders street to street, their livelihood I can uplift.”
@ RB.

Thank you to Surabhi Shah, and Kkajal & Ujjwal Sarin, for donating this new bicycle to Shankar; Shankar contributed nearly half towards his bicycle. 🙂

And thank you to Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) for the good discount and service.


(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )


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