Gully Boy & His Adoptive Nani (Maternal GrandMother)
Very often, even mistakes bring us closer to each other, says Sona Kumar on her experience with Salim Khan.
I met Salim in 2009 when we started moral classes in Anand Nagar Slum, Jogeshwari West, Mumbai, India
He was the thinnest, tallest and most mischievous child in our class. He would get into trouble because one or the other child would complain...
He was mischievous but never misbehaved.
He was enrolled at YMCA to play basketball with 13 more children.
They would play Basketball early in the morning, go to school and then come to our coaching classes to complete their homework, revise tables, answers etc
Irfan Khan, the Choreographer, offered to teach our children and give them the opportunity to dance on stage at Bhaidas Hall in vile parle west.
He would depute a dance teacher for an hour to teach our kids, who were short-listed. Salim was 1 of them.
1 fine day Salim refused to dance and left the classroom. I was very furious as the girl with whom he was paired would lose a chance for no fault of her own.
I called his aunt to complain about him but was hit hard.
She told me that he lived in Ghatkopar. He would leave early in the morning after drinking 4 to 5 glasses of water as his mother wouldn't bother to get up early and cook meals for him.
In school, they were given a small packet of glucose biscuits and we would give them 1 banana each.
After dance practise he would reach home around 9 pm.
I never imagined a child going hungry so that he could play basketball on an empty stomach, have only 1 meal a day and dance too.
It moved me to tears.
The next day I carried a meal for him and told him to eat. When I had a peep in class, I saw him sharing food with 2 boys, who lived nearby.
I called him out and told him that his friends live nearby, at 5 minutes distance.
They have a meal before leaving for school and would go home and have dinner. Why was he sharing food with them?
He said that whenever they bring anything to eat in the class they share it with him so how could he eat food alone, without offering them?
I was speechless.
Anyways, he joined the dance class again.
He had not submitted his birth certificate to school. It is mandatory to submit the certificate in order to appear for the X standard exam.
On an enquiry, he found out that it would cost around Rs 100 and asked his father for money who refused saying that he had cleared VIII standard and now he should start working and contributing to household expenses.
School uniforms and stationery were given free by the school
Even his travel fare was born by the school so the parents didn't have to spend on his education at all.
He was in a fix as he was keen on studying.
His friends approached me. We paid for his certificate and he cleared the exam with 62 % in X std.
The School paid for his admission to a College.
He wanted to distribute newspapers in the morning to earn some pocket money.
Besides stationary, we got him a cycle to deliver newspapers.
His father ordered him to start working with him as a Mason or contribute money through any work that he was interested in.
He did not allow him to attend college.
His school teacher called his father to allow him to go to college & also promised that the school will cover all expenses till he graduated.
Salim was thrashed for complaining to the teacher, an outsider.
Not only that, his father sold the cycle & the books.
The story doesn't end here.
Once he called me to say that his close relative had died and they all were going to the village, excluding his father.
When they returned from the village, they found someone else living in their room.
The landlord told them that his dad collected the deposit money from him and handed over the key to him.
Salim's mother was crying hysterically & called me to say that she spoke to the landlord who was ready to give them another room for Rs 10,000 deposits. They were without shelter.
I gave Rs 10,000 to Salim as a loan and told him to return, as soon as possible.
Eventually, his dad returned home.
1 day I saw him sitting in the garden next to my house. When I approached him, he broke into tears.
While his father was beating his mother, he grabbed his hand. Father got so furious, that he chucked him out of his house.
He had just started working, he didn't get his salary, he had nowhere to go and nothing to eat for 3 days. I gave him food to eat, requested someone to allow him to sleep in his auto-rickshaw with a condition that he will clean it for free before leaving for work, and arranged for his lunch & dinner till he received his salary.
Within a month he found a job in a hotel where he got room to share with 3 more workers and food to eat.
He called me to say that he had started composing songs. He sent me 7 songs and to be honest, I liked them all.
I told him to keep on writing.
1 day he called to say that his phone was stolen and he lost all songs.
Luckily I had saved them in my mail so sent them to his friend.
During the lockdown, he sent me a message that the hotel where he was working had closed down and he needed a job with shelter.
1 of my friend agreed to employ him provided he gets the covid test done at her cost. He agreed and she engaged him.
Within 2 days he got the news that his mother lost her brother and wanted him to accompany her to Hyderabad.
Despite warning that my friend will not allow him to step into her house again, he left his job to accompany her to Hyderabad to attend her brother s funeral.
After that, I lost touch with him.
After months of silence, I was surprised to receive the following message from him..
GM Nani ji
Health kessi hai aapki
Bahot yaad aati hai aapki
Inshallah bahot jald milunga aapse
200 gaane likh diye hai Abhi Tak
Bas aapka aashirwad chahiye
Mujhe maaf karna maine bahot Dil dukhaya hai aapka.
He wants to record his song in a studio but can't afford to pay the rent.
He is our Gullyboy, who is keen to rise in life.
If you know anyone who can help him in anyways, then please let me know.
At present, he is working as Security Supervisor in Mumbai Suburbs
This is life and all that happens are either Lessons or Gifts to us, I feel.