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Thursday, February 11, 2016

Where Art Thou?....

It's a lovely winter Sunday evening, am spending my once a month weekend at my parent's place. Mom and I step out of the house to do some mother-daughter shopping at our very own favorite destination "Dadar" wink emoticon
We come to this Pure Leather Purse shop "Vikas Leathers", Ground Floor Star Mall. A small, with no jazzy interiors done kinds place, with 4-5 glass shelves with pure leather purses, wallets, sling bags, visiting card holders displayed on them in a simple manner. These days, hardly people use pure leather ones, except the quality lovers. But this uncle at the age of 60s, pretty healthy and at peace sitting in the chair in his shop, with one assistant guy selling those purses to customers, has some amazing collection. Usually such shops don't grab eyeballs as much Hidesign, Michael Kors, Baggit, Gucci, etc. I suggest the uncle to hang the trendy purses on the forefront of their shop so that people would know what amazing collection he has. He nods his head positively and then just looks at me and says, "Dear, thank you for the lovely suggestion, but I have no interest left and am happy with my collection." I felt as if I offended him with my piece of suggestion and quickly apologized to him, but he said, "Naa Naa, what I meant was, I lost my only son a month ago and I have nothing left to improve in life for." 

I went quiet and didn't know how to react, and he went on. 

"My only son "Vikas", 30 years good looking, born and brought up in the Dharavi slums, very decent and sweet spoken with a knack to sell or convince anyone - anything, a guy who loved his parents to the core, had a passion to achieve something great in life and used to bring life to the house or any place he went. He traveled across India and bought a 10 acres land in our village at Kudal, Ratnagiri where he also spent time and taught kids of Adivasi families, supported Sir Narendra Dabholkar in anti-superstition acts and did not allow me or his mom to even light a Diya or place God's photo in this shop, but always said "Believe in yourself and your hard work that is the real god". He too had bought a new house worth 35 lakhs on his own. He also went to Assam to hoist the flag last year with the Indian army, he was always striving hard to help others and brought a smile on every person's face. He could make a business of 1 lakh in 4 days in their shop and changed roles from a happy, funny and jovial son in their house to a serious, diplomat smart businessman in client meetings. 

Though we lived in Dharavi, Vikas never had "Tapori or Low-level/Cheap" friends, never fell for smoking/drinking or any bad habits. Only habits he had were over working for everyone who needed help and crazy for Non-veg food.
31st Dec 2015 he went to our village to celebrate New Year with the Adivasi families along with a few of our factory men and wished his mom and me, midnight 12 a Happy New Year and next day had a sumptuous non-vegetarian lunch and was back on the way home. Suddenly, in the middle of the road, he puked out twice-thrice and our team took him to a local doctor there who asked them to rush him to the Ratnagiri hospital since he got a major attack. By the time he was shifted to the hospital he gave up and took his last breath. The moment I got the call on his vomits and heart attack I quickly asked my friend in the village to rush to the spot with 2-3 lakhs rupees while I transferred the same in his account. 

But who knew this money could not save my son. Would not give him another breath for survival."
Hearing to this I can't express how I felt that moment, but I salute to the parents who brought up "Vikas", such a gem of a person in the slums of Dharavi and their upbringing really made them proud. His dad shared how he sat in the shop selling purses aimlessly just for their own survival, but felt like a widow and a house without a roof and hopes someday Vikas comes back or he receives a call hearing his voice calling "Baba". He prays that no parent gets such a life, where they hope to see their grown up son get married and settled and have a wonderful family of his own.
Every New Year for them will not bring these parents a smile or hope to live a happy fresh year, but will refresh Vikas' memories he left back with them. I could not console uncle, but could just tell them try and be happy and Vikas is still with them in spirit around, and he would be happy to see you smile and not in tears.

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