151A) recipient of help, a livelihood bicycle.
“When a Muslim man and his wife are able to etch out a living making and selling Mangalsutras, I feel, …”
Shabbir Abdul Akhtar (Vategoankar) (50)
Bangles and Magalsutra maker (an artist) and seller. His wife makes them too.
I have remained fascinated by bangle sellers. My first childhood memory of one is of a bangles vendor who wore a Muslim white cap, had a mehendi color beard and would walk on the streets ringing a bicycle bell. To attract attention and shout out loud between rings ‘Bangdiwala! Choodiwala!” He was a cheerful old man, I remember. His bangles, and his smile, reflected the sun’s rays. I would equate the multiple colors on his bangle stand to the colorful Poppins candy that was a big seller those years.
Furthermore, ever since I was a child, I had heard many songs, lyrics, written by my dad too, in films like Do Raste (Bindiya Chamkegi, chudi khankegi), Lamhe (Mere haathon mein nau nau chudiyan hain), DDLJ (Dilwale Dhulania Le Jayenge) and innumerable other films, where the female protagonists conveyed their affection or approval of love or marriage to the persistent flirting hero through the medium of her colorful but fragile glass bangles.
Fragile. Yes. I grew up watching Hindi films in which when the married woman character intentionally broke their bangles, I wondered why they broke them when their husband had died. Thereafter, I saw them in white clothes and always in tears. Fragile destinies.
Many decades later, I realized it was the way widows were discriminated against. They lost their right to wear color, overnight, for no fault of theirs, symbolizing they had no right to live a happy life thereafter. A life imprisonment sort of. A woman made a slave, often, by her in-laws, who even sometimes blamed her for their son’s death, but did not hesitate to make her cook and clean for them.
It was decades later, when I happened to chance upon a translation of quotes from various sacred Hindu scriptures, that I read a passage that enlightened me … it quoted verses from the Bhagwad Gita too …. ‘Women who lose their husband to death, should not travel, in their mind, to the place he has. They should continue to live their lives in the world of the living, not giving up on worldly needs, need for companionship, a life mate, and laughter, happiness.
I have never been able to fathom how why when people tweaked and twisted the scriptures to enslave widows and punish them. Human greed to suppress and enslave were responsible.
Let us return to the subject of this post, Shabbir. He lives at Kokrud, a village in Sangli. He has an old bicycle and uses it to travel to villages in the vicinity to sell bangles. He rides up to 10 to 20 kms between various villages.
The great thing is, he will also use the bicycle for taking his children, ‘double-seat’, to school.
Shabbir could not study beyond class three, because his father could not sustain his further education. He began earning a livelihood from his childhood days.
Shabbir has a son and daughter, and thank God he is able to provide them an education far beyond his own. They are studying at the Zilla Parishad school at Kokrud. The school where Mukul Madhav Foundation executed a free medical camp for the nearly 500 less privileged children. Shabbir was recommended to us by the school authorities.
Shabbir, is a Muslim, and he and his wife make Mangalsutras that are purchased and worn by married Hindu women only. They are able to educate and feed their family from this profession. #TolerantIndia! #JaiHInd!
One more thing. Kokrud will remain etched in my memory forever. This is the school where I happened t meet a very special child, a girl. She must have been 8 or 9 years young, and she had a very special need.
I have promised myself we will fulfill her need. I will write about her someday, as soon as I fulfill my promise. Ironically, she is so young that she is unaware of the impact of her loss, and that makes us want to help her, before she becomes aware of what a loss can really mean in the long term when we leave childhood far far behind.
This bicycle was donated to Shabbir Bangdiwala Chudiwala Akhtar by Natasha and Khurram Abdulla. Thank you.
We handed the bicycle to Shabbir at Kokrud en route our Pune to Ratnagiri Cyclothon in Dec 2015, which included a free medical health camp for nearly 3000 Zilla Parishand school children sponsored by #MukulMadhavFoundation, (MMF), the NGO based in Pune. MMF’s team helped us locate this beneficiary through their rural resources.
Beneficiaries of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1
#HumanityOurReligion #Empower #Empowerment #Charity #Donation #Livelihood #Bicycles #Inspiration #RakeshBakshi #ProudIndian #JaiHind #Humanize #Equalize #Spiritualize #BicycleAngels