159th beneficiary. (Wheelchair for CP, Spastics, child.)
“Sometimes a candle wishes the wind blow her away before extinguishing her flame that defines her.”
Zubair Shaikh (18 -21, I think)
Son of Saida Shaikh, Zubair suffers from Cerebral Palsy. Sadia said to me, “Zubair’s father does not work. : ( Many years ago, 1991-92, Zubair’s father began a business, but suffered loses. He never recovered thereafter. Neither financially, nor emotionally. He rarely leaves his house, and prefers the shadows.” Saida went quite.
In a flash I remembered a moment from my recent past. I was interviewing director Farah Khan (I love her!) for our book, Directors’ Diaries – The Road to Their First Film. Farah told me, that her father (a very well to do film producer) suffered a huge loss when his most ambitious production flopped at the box office, sometime in 1970s.
Farah was a child, then. She continued, “….. even our Chevrolet car got sold too. I did not know what becoming ‘kangaal’, bankruptcy, means.’, When my Gramaphone got sold, which I would hear daily and dance to Hindi songs, I found out what even ‘poor’ means. (Pauses) My mother took up a job. (So its my mother from whom I learnt a woman must be financially independent.) My dad did not have income. He rented our living room/hall to his friends for card games. To earn a tiny fee of Rs 5 per player from this service and the space he provided. My father must have earned around Rs 30–40 a day from this activity at home. That is all the money we had to run our home, our lives. (Pauses) People would play cards in our house from almost 2 p.m. to 7 p.m. (Pauses) Since we had no car now, I began to go to school by BEST bus. But, (pauses) Papa refused to travel by BEST bus. He stayed home all the while. (Pauses) Decades later after I became successful, I realized why. What Papa must have gone through, why someone like him did not leave his home thereafter nor want to be seen in public transport.” Then the normally talkative Farah went quite. Very quite.
It was raining when I was interviewing her, seated in her 42nd floor house which was touching the monsoon clouds. In that silent moment, I looked out. I could not hear the rain, even though it was pouring outside. It was as dark outside as it was inside at that gloomy moment in her life.
Saida is bringing up her challenged son Zubair nearly like a single mother. She sells odd things now and then, including artificial jewellery, to make ends meet. She is the sole bread winner. Yet finds the energy and time to look after his every need, including taking him to the toilet. Because she has a challenged son who constant care needs her to remain close at hand, she has been running pillar to post since many years now to get permission from the BMC to set up a small shop outside her house. So that she can earn a regular livelihood yet remain very close to her precious special Zubair. Such love and grit!
This awesome woman, Saida, seated in front of me, I assume she may be hardly 4 to 5 feet. But when she spoke to me every word weighed laden with determination for his wellbeing. Her courage and grit brining up a spastics child without a regular income towered over me. I felt I am seated in front of the mighty Kutub Minar, which stands invincible against unfriendly and potentially-humiliating winds at a great height of 72.5 meters. She sat in front of me as firm as the iron tower, its width of 14.32 meters at its base. Her energy level equated to the popcorn that erupts joyfully out of the bowl when the corn hits the right temperature, in my microwave oven, before we friends settle down sharing them watching a movie at home.
I asked Saida, “What is your ambition for Zubair? What would you wish for, if God, Allah, Bhagwan were to grant you one wish, oneiracle?” Saida said, “It is challenging to bring up Zubair. A child bound to a wheelchair or a walker. My only prayer is (she looked up towards the sky) ‘Please take him away before you take me away. If I die first, there is no one in this world who can look after Zubair, like I do. God, please please please keep me alive till Zubair lives. Or then call him to you only before you call me.”
As I waked away from mother and son, giving them a brand new wheelchair donated by our donor, I thought, ‘Sometimes a candle wishes the wind blow her away before extinguishing her flame that defines her.’
This wheelchair for Zubair has been donated to him in the fond memory of Late Dr Sudhir Raikar of Winston Salem. His beloved wife, Neeta, has since moved to Atlanta close to her daughter, and she was very happy at this tiny opportunity to do something for someone the far less fortunate. Thank you Neeta Raikar, and Girish Thakar for this opportunity you offered Mrs Neeta Raikar through us.#RakeshAnandBakshi https://twitter.com/RakBak16
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