Tuesday, 11 October 2011

Saleem-“The Remote Cover Seller”

Having nothing much serious to do on the holiday, makes me think. Recollect memories from the past-good, bad and ugly….and feel the feeling. Some silent smiles and some tears of remembrance of old days. Some incidence never leave you and frequently keep daunting.

Over the time, I developed a bad habit of sharing painful moments. Another bad habit which I posses (this one being transferred with gene), is pondering and disturbing myself for heart touching moments. I know writing here won’t help the cause, but certainly I feel relaxed after sharing with you all. (I don’t know how many would, read this-think upon- reflect.)

Here goes yet another scene, which awakes me in the midnight and compels to pen it down. Pen it down, for people to think, not only think-feel it, not only feel it-act upon it.

I am missing name of the only protagonist- sign of ageing, you see.
Will that reduce the impact? I fear.

Okey- let us name the kid, the protagonist to make it easier. We will call him Saleem. The name has nothing to do with Salman Rushdie’s Saleem Sinai of Midnight’s Children.

I’ll skip the name of city in this one, for we have tendency to associate geography and demography with behavioral issues. Often these associations end up with false attributions which further degrade moral values and bring us closer to being an animal.

Forget it- considering we are busy individuals, with less time to read, why others are disturbed in sleep at mid of night, I’ll try to keep it short.

Coming straight to the point- Saleem is a kid of not more than 12 years of age. He sells plastic remote covers. Remote that controls television. Remote cover that protects remote- from the naughty kids in every home and angry adults, who throw every household things in anger. Never thought our anger would earn bread for someone. I do not know the background, why he used to do the pity job in the school hours. This means he is not going to school like many others of his age group, whom we call child labour.

While we were enjoying famous chaat at a famous spot, a voice just as pleasant as that of a humming bird wanted our attention. The voice of god- the voice reminds me of a famous hindi song which sings, “Bacche mann k sacche”- Kids are pure at heart. You have to be a devil to ignore the voice.

The voice belongs to Saleem. Saleem- “The Remote Cover Seller”.

Many of us, the frequent visitors of this famous spot were familiar with Saleem and Saleem also knew them all. Saleem was too naïve to understand that no one would buy “Remote cover” on daily basis. Whenever he see my friends in the market, he will try to make a deal. Abhishek was huge admirer of this kid.

Abhishek used to talk with Saleem politely-sign of civilized man, and say, “Beta kal hi to liya tha”.

Saleem would pester, “ Bhaiya ek aur le lo…please le lo bhaiya…le lo na bhaiya please….please bhaiya”.

We have often seen small kids selling things which are useless to us. But some of us who carry slightly softer heart would purchase these useless things, just to make the kid happy. Abhishek belongs to the same caste of people- with softer heart.

In the midst of all this, Abhishek told me that he had already purchased two from him. I asked why two?

“ le lo na bhaiya please…teen din se ek bhi nahi bika”

He told me- "Brother, once I purchased it and this kid approached me next time also selling me the same remote cover. Second time when he approached me, I offered him ten rupees. But he refused to take the money unless remote cover is purchased".

I was surprised that even in this poor state of life; Saleem has moral values intact. Is’nt this amazing? The respect for this kid multiplied in my heart. There is something for us to learn from this kid.

“Bhaiya pppplease bhaiya”- he kept humming in the background.

Abhishek challenged us to test the self respect of Saleem. Last time kid sold Abhishek his first remote cover was two months back. We offered Saleem, ten rupees again but not purchasing remote cover.

But this time, he hesitantly accepted. Abhishek was shocked. How can Saleem change in just two months? The hero Saleem- became ordinary to me with the acceptance of ten rupee note.

In between tasty chaat and useless talks, we missed one line from the humming bird.

“Bhaiya teen din se ek bhi nahi bika”

OMG-He was unable to sell even a single piece in last three, which broke him down. Who is responsible for this?

Do we have an answer, certainly NO.

Self respect shattered, kid brought up with the moral values passed on to him from parents- for he has no teacher. But the ugly life has taught him how to survive in the world. Forget about values when there is no food in the stomach.

We can offer him food, I said.

Saleem has somebody back home who is waiting for his return with the money.
Ask yourself, What would you do, when someone back home is waiting for you?
Often I see status on facebook regarding, “Delhi vendors and beggars, on traffic signals”, people hate them.

But the question remains unanswered, Who is responsible for this?

Saleem is unfortunate to have born in a poor family. We have not done anything remarkable to get birth in a well to do family. It is by chance.

Many of us will forget this after reading, we are used to it. And also we sadly do not have "Like button" which shows a "sign of thumbs up", here on blogs unlike FB. We press the "like button" and our moral responsiblity ends there.

Please share your views...who knows when our thoughts become our action..

Next time when you meet some Saleem, Atleast do not hate him.


  1. Very thought provoking and heart touching indeed! Thanks for sharing it Sajid....

  2. Thanks for sharing, Sajid. Ever since I started living in Delhi, I've come to see a way of life I hadn't personally experienced yet. At every traffic point, a few children, an emaciated woman with a child, or a physically challenged man - somebody or the other would be supplicating you. I have bought boxes of tissue paper, ball-point pens I never used, cheap toys, trinkets, incense sticks. Every time I pass them the money, I'd feel lighter. I really don't know how much help I've been to them, yet I really don't know what else I could do.

  3. Feel lighter....:)

    @ Natalie....passing money and feeling lighter..is this the right way? I am clueless.

    But for sure what you do is a better act than those who make faces and hate from the bottom of their heart, when they see Saleem.

    @Chetan and Prerit...Please Respond...Can we work on this...some time in future??

  4. Nilofer Ansari11 October, 2011

    "We have not done anything remarkable to get birth in a well to do family. It is by chance."

    @Sajid- The problem is.. we all forget the above line mentioned by you.

    Nice piece to read.

  5. Sajid...I like to think of our work being such that every step we take should get us closer to giving Saleem a better life. Hence, the fundamental thought behind Agrasar is to "expand the basket of choices available to all, starting from the bottom". The day Saleem will have the option of choosing what he really wants to do, will be the day we can really celebrate.

    And Nilofer, if you're reading this, welcome to the Edulever family!

  6. Nilofer Ansari12 October, 2011

    Chetan sir....Thank you so much..:)

  7. I can just say....hmmmm.....want to see the change. You know what, there are three kids of around 10-12 years of age (including one girl)working in the same building we have our ACE-Saharanpur.