What a street boy taught me
Sajid, a street child, taught me that I wasn't unhappy or stressed; I was simply ungrateful.
I blinked hard and tried to concentrate on the report I had to submit shortly. Blood rushed to my head, making it pound fiercely. I am 26 years old, a research medical officer working day and night to meet the expectations of my boss.
I wonder as I gaze at the fading computer screen; the arduous struggle, the moral strife, my turmoil for a little breath… was I stressed out? All these thoughts flickered through my mind; I shook my head as if trying to exorcise such thoughts away and stepped into my boss’ room to deliver the scientific report I have been working on for a long time.
I missed out on all the social gatherings lately; work was everything I did all day long. He took a quick look at it and said that we’ll discuss it the next day and so I left for home. On my way home, I stopped by a coffee shop to grab a bite to satisfy my sweet tooth. When I came back there was a young boy cleaning my car. I immediately went up to him to forbid him from doing so. I looked at him from the corner of my eye.
He was a 9-year-old boy; thick eyebrows framed his heavily lashed eyes which were striking shade of grey. I felt a strange obligation to try and make a conversation.
"So, what is your name?’"
He grinned sheepishly.
‘’Sajid,’’ he said, and added that he was constantly facing the battle to find food and shelter to stay safe.
For a long time he had slept on a bus stand bench.
"I wait here every day for Mr Aijaz, the coffee shop owner, to give me a cupcake. I was mugged several times by gangs of other children,” he said. “Every now and then, the police would come and beat children like us to move on. But I am happy! I am free,’’ he said.
I often wondered why a ‘street child’ would be happy but I never asked. He wasn’t just another street child; he was happy and I could sense content in his eyes.
I asked about his family. He told me that his father died one and a half years ago, leaving the family’s financial condition miserable. His mother left Sajid and his two younger siblings to fend for themselves.
“I would beg for bread and fetch it for nurturing them,” he recalled.
Unable to bring food every day, Sajid felt that his only option left was to live on streets. Despite his innocent eyes, he was a very sharp kid as he learned the tricks of survival at a very young age. He sincerely preserved that he doesn’t take drugs – unlike many other street children.
His eyes sparkled when I asked him what he really wanted to do. I was expecting his answer to be that he wants to go to school and learn like other children, but he said,
‘’I want to play cricket in the park with other kids, but people say that us street children are dirty. They chase us away. I feel bad.”
Sajid taught me one of the most important life lessons I wasn’t able to learn myself: if I place my happiness in material objects, I am signing a contract for pain, disappointment and sorrow.
I wasn't stressed out! I was just being ungrateful.
I can struggle and struggle through life to barely get by and make it from one challenge to the next, one disappointment to another, and one temporary triumph to the next. I can connect the tremendous power of my thoughts and intentions to inspire and empower all of my actions, and to create stable happiness in my life, subtracting all the mishaps and counting all the blessings! That’s exactly the lesson I learned.
I now stop by this coffee shop every week just to witness, hear and share Sajid’s tale of facing the harsh reality of life alone with a smile.
Read more by Rakshinda here.