Sr No. 189
“No real good friend will take away my right to protect my emotional privacy.”
Ramesh Salunke (55 plus I think)
Ramesh is a second generation cobbler.
He lives at Khar Danda, Bandra, and works from a make-shift shelter on Perry Cross Road. He was recommended to me by a driver in my residential apartment. Of course I was aware he worked a few buildings from my apartment, and he had repaired many soles of my shoes. Yet I had never really gazed at his face long enough while speaking with him. I would explain what I need done, glance at him quickly and then walk away.
Later I would collect the repaired shoe, glance at him quickly, pay him and once again just walk away; without ever asking him, “Kaise ho bhai? How are you?” , considering he has been around for nearly two decades (15 years) three apartments away from my own.
So when Ramesh found out (from a retired fisherman we had helped long ago) that we give people bicycles for the purpose of them traveling for their livelihood, he approached a driver in my building to reach me. And after about six months I met him, as I had other people I had committed I would help.
Ramesh was willing to contribute half the cost of the bike if can donate one to him.
Ramesh’s wife works as a house-help in various places in Bandra. He is a second generation cobbler. His biggest worries are:
1) Like his father he too may become visually impaired, blind, looking at one spot for many hours while threading shoe laces. His father lost sight in one eye. Ramesh says, I know of some cobblers who turned blind partially or completely by working at show factories and on pavements. Because they stare at one spot for too many hours every day. Aisa karne se aankh chali jati hai.”
Eventually, his father passed away from Cancer, within 4 months of it being detected. That was the worst period of his life. He said, ‘The saddest was that we could eat, but my father could not. We had to feed him through drips.”
Ramesh broke down when he recollected this period of his life. I think he did not break down because of what he was made to remember because of my questing him, I think people break down when a stranger cares to ask them about their lives, about their joys and sorrows. Because rarely do well to do looking people talk to them at such length, I think. That itself makes them emotional
And I remembered the advice my eye doctor had given me long ago…. “If you don’t want your reading number to increase, try reading as much as you can without wearing your numbered glasses, and do not stare at the page or your screen for too long. Every few minutes look away at various objects near and far. And read in bright light.”
2) His sons are not really settled as yet, and he is worried if they will, soon, and he hopes they do not go wayward because of idle or bad companions.
I asked Ramesh about his customers; and he told me about some of his customers. There was one client he told me about, a very rich customer who I realised had hurt him.
Ramesh had said, “… one of my clients lives on Perry Cross Road, and he sent his shoe to me for repair. One pair only, because it was damaged. However, to do a good job on the damaged shoe I needed to see the other pair, the good pair that was not damaged. But he refused to hand it the left and right pairs. He told me, or he hinted I think, that because that pair of shoes was costing about Rs 40,000 he did not trust me with both left & right pairs. No one can misuse or sell off only one pair of shoe. You need two to make a sale.”
When Ramesh told me about this incident, I noticed his lips begin to quiver, his hand shake. I wondered if that was because of his anger, or the humiliation he must have felt back then when it had happened. Maybe the customer did not mean to hurt his feelings, yet the sensitive artist, the cobbler, felt or realised that his character was under suspicion for a pair of shoes. He added, “But I did a good job, gave it my best, even though I had just the damaged shoe to work on.”
It made me ponder on how many times I may have hurt some people, particularly the more sensitive kaarigars, artists, by saying things without realising their impact. Or to a service provider far below me in the world’s pre decided food chain hierarchy. I must have done something, said something that exposed my mistrust in someone.
After Ramesh left, I apologised to the universe if I had ever hurt any artist, or any other service provider by my language, words, tone or body language. I further thought, because of the bias I carry within because of my limited experiences, I have sometimes hurt people’s feelings by my some posts on social media.
I still make such mistakes, sorry. Lately, a dear friend (now an ex-dear-friend) termed me as a liar and hypocrite. I agree I lie sometimes to protect my vulnerable emotions. No one has a right to demand honesty from me if I need to protect my vulnerabilities with a white lie and or hypocrisy. No real good friend will take away my right to protect my emotional privacy.
On the sunny side, Ramesh mentioned very proudly, the best thing my father taught me was what he kept telling me when I was studying in school. He would say, “silaee seekh le. Ek din kaam ayegi. (Learn how to stitch shoes. It will come of use to you someday.)”
And it did. Because after Ramesh failed to find fruitful employment, right from his youth days to his middle age he could not find a suitable occupation or employment, it is silaee (stitching shoes) that has fed his family nearly two meals a day over the last 15 years. (Feed a man/woman a meal, you feed him/her once. Teach him/her a job, you feed him/her for a lifetime.) The balance meals his wife brings home. He hopes one day his two sons will/can chip in. We all do.
I was happy we were able to help Mochi Ramesh Salunke in our own tiny way.
Thank you to Kiran and Sheetal Shetty for buying this bicycle for Ramesh. Ramesh contributed half its cost.
Thank you Siddharth Vora (https://www.facebook.com/siddharth.vora.58?fref=ts) of Kohinoor Cycles (http://kohinoorcyclestores.blogspot.com/) for the good service & discount.
#RakeshAnandBakshi 🎶 https://twitter.com/RakBak16
#BicycleAngels 🚴 😇:
Beneficiaries of help: https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=oa.357090647765413&type=1