People go extra miles for their relatives but among those people, the story of one Shailendra Yadav comes out somewhere on top, second to only very few.
He sits back comfortably in his maroon chair making money from sales from his hardware shop in Mzuzu in northern Malawi in Central Africa, breathing the sweet incense-scented air. To his customers he is just another Indian guy trying to make money, to those who get a chance to talk to him, Yadav is a legend.
Back in time between the late 1990s and before it was 2003 Yadav’s sister [name withheld] couldn’t bear a child, she travelled far and wide like an explorer but doctors could not help her have a baby - and that put Yadav the brother down a lot.
|One shoe-less decade done, one more to go! (Pic:Bright Mhango)|
“You see, marriage life is nothing if you have no kids – it’s not money or a house; my sister tried the UK, Malawian and Indian doctors but they couldn’t help her. That had me very concerned,” he said.
Yadav started frequenting the temple and pleaded with one of the Hindu Gods, Jay Matu Ji, to let her sister have a kid. Seven month later, the sister was still very childless.
“I then asked Jay Matu Ji to give my sister a kid and I promised him that I would stop wearing shoes for 21 years, I pleaded with him to give my sister a kid.”
Two months later, the sister called from about 500 kilometres (Chotila, India) to announce that she was expecting. Yadav, naturally was ecstatic, he walked the 500 kilometres in 11 days to see his sister. All that while he was at the temple, placating his god.
One only imagines the fanfare that ensued.
The sister gave birth to a daughter; let’s call her a “sweet precious daughter” and she is now about 10 years.
From that day Yadav has not owned a shoe nor borrowed one, and it’s been a thorny road, at the time of the interview he had a bandage on his left foot, which is only natural considering the fact that he run a shop that sales nails, iron, metals and many things sharp.
To Yadav: “It’s just God’s way of tempting me, sting me so that I can get a shoe, but I am not doing that.”
He has posters of Jesus Christ and he has hoards of Hindu Gods all in one place and he doesn’t feel any dissonance and is at peace to explain his ambivalence.
“I believe in both Christianity and Hinduism. I went to a Christian school and my teacher was Christian and teachers are usually one’s role models,” puts it Yadav
“Just like the Hindu Gods like Shree Ram, Shree Krishna and Shree Ganesh, Issa [Jesus] is also a God and I wouldn’t hurt a God especially the one that preaches peace.”
But he confesses that he misses his shoes. At parties, marriages and big gatherings – very few would understand a barefooted shop owner but to Yadav, it is a question of faith and he is not giving his faith up.
Kushi [the sweet precious daughter] is now only 10, that means Yadav has gone 10 years (plus some 9 months of course) without shoes and he still has 11 years to go.
He has two boys of his own and he plans to adopt one Malawian kid and start a charity.
His message to humanity: “Treat people equally – hurt and hate no-one,” this sounded true considering the way he treats his employees and the way he talks.
Surely if one was a divorce judge and Kushi’s custody was at stake, it would be very wise to hand it to Yadav, seriously.
Did this interview in 2012, I hope Yadav is still shoe-less and that the girl is doing well wherever she may be.