Magazine, website & books written by teens since 1989

The Shoe Seller

Whether outdated or urban, fleets of shops extended throughout a tapered alleyway of Chandini Chowk. Ranging from a dozen of brown jute sacks filled with rice, masoor, saffron to trails of bandhini turbans, one finds all of them at one place.
The third shop on the right in the main alley, rather a seedy one but with frequent visitors due to its familiarity, belonged to an old wrinkled shoe trader, Salim Sheikh. With head groomed with hoary wavy hair almost as frail as paper, auburn stubble and creaking joints similar to rusted hinges, he was making handmade shoes since 30 years and had gained an expertise in this profession. But these wrinkles similar to crow’s feet or grooves observed on crushed paper were not only on his face but now started to over hide his profession. In recent times, big shoe merchants had come in the market, who had apprehension about automated machines and a skill to tackle foreign buyers. Bearing the risk of being driven out of the market, he recommended his son Asif to study hard and join his shop after a bit of buildup from his uncle, who was also a shoe merchant but in a better state as compared to Salim. Asif was a spoiled, spoon-fed child due to his mother's overindulgence but this child was incisive. Since 10 years of age, he was aware about the making of all different sorts of shoes. But now, when he was 18, he had no engrossment in working, his juvenile behavior insisted him to spend all his time with his rogue friends.
Both son and father were devil’s advocate, adamant upon their opinion. Salim said that it would be near impossible to work if Asif had no guidance from a weathered eye like that of Salim but Asif said that he was highbrowed enough to work alone. Due to this behavior, Salim was not interested in involving Asif in his business neither he was interested to take and advantage of his skill. Asif’s psyche was being channeled toward destructive activities. On one hand, Salim was aggressive and preferred not to communicate with his son as it always ended with an outrageous and fuming argument. On the other hand, Asif wanted to leave the house and flee away to indulge in a ruffian activity like his friends. He wanted to jump on the bandwagon. Their communication gap made them bark on the wrong tree. One night he escaped from his house, leaving behind his old parents in need and joined a scandalous gang.
5 years have passed, and Asif was now returning to meet his mother who was in her later stages. Asif, who was once proficient and blue-blooded in shoe-making line, now had stains and blemishes on his character. He was now a dropout and had criminal records which resulted in his onetime visit to jail. As for Salim, his business collapsed and 2 years after his son left him, he also died.
Elvis had actually left the building for this family. One ended in a ramshackle and a tumble down state waiting for his son and the other one would also end up tragically if an action wasn’t taken. If Salim would have tried to talk to his son Asif, he would have surely cut the mustard, by involving his skillful son who just needed guidance. And if Asif would have listened to his father’s experience, he would not have landed into trouble like he was in one right now. Asif's mother handed over Salim's will to him. To his surprise Salim had named his house as well as his seedy shop after Asif.
By this it seemed to me that Salim had realized his mistake of not involving his son into his business and hence instead of naming his shop to an unknown, he wanted Asif to take it over and continue the business. Now if Asif decides to leave all his past crimes and fulfills his father's dream of becoming a shoe merchant then he would also realize his mistake.
Youth and experience are like foot and shoe. They go hand in hand. Walking bare footed with uncertainty would certainly result in patchy skin, callouses, blisters and bruises. Solely with a foot one cannot walk tirelessly without any quandaries. A shoe is must. Similarly, even shoes won’t be of any use without feet. Shoes would deteriorate over time or would get worn-out if they won't be worn by a foot. Afterall shoes would be of no use to a handicap. So in here, shoe is Salim’s experience and foot is Asif’s youth. Without Asif, Salim’s business was a complete failure and without Salim’s experience and savoir-faire, Asif cannot achieve the key to success.  Both foot and shoe, or simply Youth and Experience are incomplete without each other.
Thereby if someone asks me about my clash of thoughts over Youth vs. Experience, I would narrate this folk tale to them, a tale which revolves around the life journey of Salim and Asif, a tale about clash of thoughts, a tale about generation gap and a tale about verbal duals.




Post a Comment

Be the first to comment on this article!

Site Feedback