152 nd recipient of help (a livelihood bicycle):
“Many of us have a hard layer, and some people, only the privileged few, get to reach our soft spots. Family does, dear friends do, and best friends of course dwell deeply in our soft spots.”
Yunus Shaikh (27)
Yunus is from Jharkhand. He lives in Bandra East, and he sells coconuts on Carter road.
I met Yunus nearly a year ago, when I once happened to stop to drink coconut water at his bicycle-stall, post one of my daily south Mumbai bicycle rides. I think my rider pal Ekta was with me then, as it was her regular pit stop post her south Mumbai rides.
Anyways, when I happened to stop subsequently to buy coconut water from Yunus, while I watched him swiftly slice away the hard top layers, striving to reach the inner soft spot where my thirst awaited to meet her sweet waters, I wondered.
I wondered, gazing at the beautiful sweet-core coconut, that we all have a soft spot. Just like this coconut does, who was growing smaller and smaller with every swift slice of Yunus’s crafty knife.
Many of us have a hard layer, and some people, only the privileged few, get to reach our soft spots. Family does, dear friends do, and best friends of course dwell deeply in our soft spots.
Actors, directors, writers, musicians, composers, they too get to experience each other vulnerable soft spots easily. That is where our true selves dwell. Just like the sweet waters of this coconut, that will come rushing through her core when Yunus’s knife will eventually and finally arrive at her soft core.
And sometimes we discover our own soft spots, when we meet someone far less blessed, or far less privileged, and such a person will most often be a stranger to us, and may not necessarily be someone who asks or needs our help. Yet, we may want to reach out. And most do.
So, while I awaited Yunus’s knife to announce the arrival of the soft and sweet spot of the coconut expertly chosen for me, bina-malai (without cream), I studied Yunus’s old bicycle.
It was completely rusted and could fall weak by the way side any day. Like old age.
I looked up at the large number of coconuts his bicycle straw basket was laden with, and worried about his safety. And considering coconuts are far more heavier and bulkier to transport than milk, eggs or bread, I though it is important we ask him if he needs to buy a new bicycle.
Yunus’s clothes, footwear and general appearance had already spoken to me, silently though, hinting to me he will definitely need and or appreciate our help.
So I bravely ventured to ask Yunus, does he want our assistance in replacing his old bicycle with a new one. Provided, he is willing to contribute half its cost.
Yunus, smiled a lot, and after a while agreed. I still do not know if he smiled because he thought I was just kidding, or was smiling recognizing good fortune at his humble door step, having arrived announced, like a welcome guest and friend.
However, Yunus reverted to me for our help, a few weeks ago, nearly a year after I had approached him. He said his old bicycle frame broke into two and he has had to weld the frame to continue using it, until he can buy a new one. I know, welded frames will never last and will betray ruthlessly, like an enemy, and without warning.
So, we bought him a new bicycle, and he willingly paid half its cost.
Yunus has never attended school. Poverty and deprivation denied him the privilege and blessing of an education. Life has been his only Teachers. He had to toil from a very early age to support his family. They are four sisters and three brothers. The family continues to live in the village, as existence is far more cheaper and affordable there.
His family owns a little amount of land, but agriculture is not enough to sustain their large family and even their basic needs.
Yunus migrated to Mumbai a decade or more ago to earn a livelihood for his family.
Yunus was a very positive person. He smiled a lot while speaking to me, even when he spoke about the many challenges he has faced.
After we had purchased him a bicycle, I happened to stop by his bicycle-stall for a drink. He refused to accept money from me for what I had consumed. On insisting I will pay, he agreed to accept my money but offered me a Rs 10 discount.
I explained to him, ‘… so just because we have helped you buy a new bicycle, that does not mean you do not charge me or the donor any less. I would like to pay you full price for this coconut I have consumed. Even if the donor of your bicycle, Mr Vijay Vaid, had been here to have a coconut from you, I am certain he too would not have liked to receive a discount from you, and definitely not a coconut for free, just because he has helped you buy a new bicycle.”
I paid him the full amount! (Unlike some politicians and bureaucrats, we do not wish for nor do we demand VVIP status ya. 😉 )
Someone may argue that I should have accepted his gratitude, and his graciousness. His offer of a free or discounted coconut. As it was his way of saying ‘thank you’ to us for having helped him, in our own tiny way.
But, first of all, I was not the donor of his bike. Mr Vijay Vaid was.
Secondly. I did not want him to feel he owes us anything, just because we helped him in his hour of need. He had left his ancestral village and come to the city to earn a livelihood. Why deny him even a penny when his life is far more challenging than ours.
It was our way of subtly expressing to him that we do what we can do, not because we want freebies or a discount from those we manage to help in our tiny ways, nor because we want some ‘dua’/blessing, from them or from their or our God, Lord, or Prophet. Doing what we can do for others just to earn good Karma, would be selfish, indeed, and would defeat the very purpose of true charity.
True charity will shine like our Sun does, only when its selfless, I would love to believe this, even if such a belief be considered ‘delusional’ by someone. 😉 🙂
Thank you Mr Vijay Vaid for helping Yunus Shaik buy a new bicycle. Yunus gave his old bicycle to his younger brother to do home deliveries. So, Mr vaid, you helped two souls, by reaching out to one. 🙂
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.
Our recipients of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1
(PS – Rs 3000 is what it takes to donate a new bicycle; yes, because the balance, 2000 to 2500, is contributed by the recipient. 🙂 )
#BicycleAngels #Charity #Donors #Donation #Bicycles #Livelihood #inspiration #RakeshAnandBakshi #RakeshBakshi #ProudIndian