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Habeeba Tossed Her Shoes


One of the most recollected memories of my wife is a painful, yet favorite story of how she dragged a despicably torn school shoes for days, before her father noted the huge crate under the soles of the piteous rag. She allegedly did not inform her parents about the pathos, because she thought she would be inviting trouble to her then ‘struggling’ parents. Having a pair of shoes, paled to that extent, being allowed to be dragged along the stony terrain and dung marked Indian roads, needs a award for perseverance. Can you imagine what a relief was it when her father bought her a new pair? As for me, shoes were the least of matters. Who is going to notice your shoes; I reasoned for my reluctance to buy another shoe. So I would let my cobbler mend it and riotously repair it to bearable limit: My cobbler was a happy man!

The turn in these ‘shoe-stories’ is when your adamant father gets you a shoe of his hippy choice: I detested that choice. Nevertheless, putting on that shoe was a life-giving experience. Now, the next pressing question would be what to be done with the old pair. The most brilliant idea is the awesome, wonderful, breathtaking, splendid idea of ‘shoe tossing’! Tada! (lot of smileys and music).

Now, that was not a joke! A tossed shoe is one of the best reminders you could have. Every time you walk pass that electric or telephone wire sagging above you, you know you have made your mark! Those pair belonged to you and it still belongs to you, but you simply will not wear it anymore. You remember your life with those shoes-the dreams you dreamt and the nightmares you had. Your sympathy goes beyond simple material attachment; it is purely personal and horrendously emotional. They had served you enough and well. But now they are far beyond your reach and you wouldn’t dare to retrieve them, because you don’t need them anymore and you want them to be hung there forever, further you’ll probably be electrocuted in your attempt!

Our past definitely makes much of who we are. But a time comes when you know that you need to toss those worn-out shoes. Hang that past life! That’s what it deserves! You can always remember who you were as long as the rag is hung. But dare not relive it again, because what lie before you must be something new, and not an addendum of your past life. There is always something new what life can offer; something never attached to your past life. It has at store more than what you thought could be there. It is never like the accustomed shoes you were already wearing.

This is the story of Habeeba and her little boy, Ajeem. When Rudolph received a phone call that Habeeba's son is in serious condition, admitted at the PICU (Pediatric Intensive Care Unit) at a local hospital, he was in jeopardy what to do. The annual function was going on and he was busy with some major responsibilities. But he had to run, and so when he saw it was safe to leave, he asked Tara to accompany him to the hospital. The condition at the hospital wasn’t so good. They realized that it is not just financial support she needed. She was seeking a champion who would stand by her side during this war.

Habeeba was like most women who attend our maternity program. What distinguished her was her accentuated interest in pink and purple hues, contrasted to the common green and black. She wore her Salwar neatly and preferred this attire to the advantage of her child. She held her son to a corner of her hip as if this was a public display of her love. But, when the double pneumonia (bilateral pneumonia) attacked her safe domain, her love was no more for public display. Instead it flung into action. She rushed her son to the hospital. This is queer for us who work at this community, where hardly people take their children to the hospital. Habeeba was of-course scared, but that did not stop her. She had already overcome the obstacles at her community. The hospital fear was just negligible, compared to what repression she faced at home. She was obstinate enough to defy every discouragement. She went through turmoil, only mothers would know. But she had her champions along with her. We could help her in every manner we could. Finally, Ajeem was showing signs of improvement. After a few days, he was well enough to be brought back home. Ajeem is back at his position as the prince of his mother’s heart. He still occupies the same place. But, this was a life changing experience for Habeeba. You should see her now. She is wearing a new pair!


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