Sajjad the Shoe-Shiner


Visiting downtown the other day and waiting for my car , I was strolling on the road. A shoe shiner, barely Eleven, sprung out almost from nowhere in sight.

“Sir, can I polish your shoes? I will shine them so well!”. I smiled. It’s that I do not visit such places every day, where such shoe shining human hands are available for a little fee. ” How much will you charge?, I asked, gleefully watching him. Only 20 Rupees (20 cents). “Deal”, as I forwarded my right foot to take off my shoe. Over the next five minutes, I watched his magic as his little hands skillfully cleaned and polished the right shoe, followed by the left.
“I don’t have any change with me. So take this hundred instead and what is your name”? . “I am Sajjad”, he answered confidently. “Here, Sajjad, take this 100 Rupee note. And keep the change”.
I glanced at my watch. The driver was running late, probably stuck in the rush hour.
After about five minutes, little Sajjad returned and handed me Eighty Rupees (80 cents) in change. “What’s this, Sajjad”?, I asked, bemused. “It’s the balance amount, Sir”, came his meek reply. “But I want you to keep them all”, I vehemently insisted. “I know”, he said smiling, “but that was not the deal”.
It took me almost two minutes to convince him that the extra 80 Rupees were a prize for his job well done.
“What will you do when you grow up Sajjad”, I was amused and intrigued by the little fellow.  “I plan to study and make a shop”
His bigger plans were already ingrained in his mind. His mother had already died a few years a go and his dad was paralyzed. Sajjad was one of the breadwinners.
Every day he had to make sure that Dad’s evening meal was taken care of, out of his paltry 150 Rupees (1.5 USD) that he made every day.
In a social fabric knitted with lies and deceit, Sajjad was pure Gold.
“Farewell, little friend”, I said to Sajjad as I shook his hands.
I left Sajjad but his bright eyes did not leave me. Even now, the shine of his little eyes brighten the dark chambers of my soul.