Salim - My Childhood Friend
I had to write a story. I had already thought of the title of the story - Salim.
Salim My childhood friend - A Muslim. His father used to sit in the front of the street in a lonely market and sew shoes. He was known to all by the 'Mochi'. Though Aslam was his name.
On the east side of the street in front of our house was a small Muslim settlement. There was not a single concrete house in the Muslim settlement. All the house was raw. Mud-walled and pallet roofs. All were one or two-room homes. Aslam lived in one of those houses.
I used to love fishing when I was a child. On my way back from school, I used to hide in my backyard. I used to dig the ground, find some worms and run to one of the village ponds.
Salim also used to go fishing there. Salim and I were introduced in childhood on the side of a Pond (Gadda). When there was a fish in the hook, I used to go to the lumber and often ran out of fish. It was Salim who taught me to be wary and to be careful. Then I became skilled at fishing.
It was not possible for me to take home the fish I killed. Salim would take his fishes back to his family, and I would bake the fishes I had killed. Salim and I would eat baked fish together.
Salim also taught me how to use a catapult. But I've never been able to kill a sparrow with it. Salim used to be an excellent targeter. We used to go to the paddy mill of Bhagwati Lala and shoot at the sparrow which came to eat the paddy.
Salim used to bake the sparrow, and we both would eat it.
Salim also taught me how to fly a kite. Salim had taught me how to tie, how to stick, how to pull the kite, and sometimes to 'delay'.
I also use to play marbles with Saleem. I even used to go to Salim's house to play. That's where I saw Salim's father, Aslam.
My parents were angry with me for knowing that I was walking with Salim. He used to shout, saying "How can you enjoy the company of a Muslim being a Hindu?". Twice or more, I got beaten up too.
But Salim was an integral friend of mine. Even though I was lying at home, I used to travel to Salim once a day. On the day of school, I would often meet with Salim, and on holiday, we would meet in the fishing pond. Sometimes we even played "Gilli Danda".
It was Salim who taught me to ride a bicycle. Along with Salim, I also learned to eat kabab. Sometimes he would take me to the mosque to recite the prayers. I would stop outside the mosque. He used to go inside. I would wait for him.
Sometimes I would take her to the Vagishwari Temple. He would stop outside the temple. I would go inside. He would be waiting for me.
Later, Salim started going to his father's shop. Aslam used to teach him to sew shoes. Salim used to go along with his father early in the morning. Aslam carried a small saddle box, Salim would carry a small bag of nylon.
On arriving, Salim used to decorate the shop - forks, palisades, small pieces of leather, shoe-straps, new soles.
I would sometimes go to Salim's shop. He used to act ashamed and would sometimes say, "I won't always be a shoemaker."
"What will you do?" I used to ask.
He would point to a poster of a movie in the street and say, "I will act on movies. I will be an actor. My brother works in Bombay.
" What did I respond to his response then, I don't remember now. But after that, I became addicted to movies. I would go to cinemas every chance I got.
Time has done a lot of things since then. After the fire broke out in his house, Salim went to live somewhere else. I also started to feel alone. Using the catapult to kill sparrows became more and more debilitating, and the habit to fly a kite was gone. I also stopped playing marbles. I was slowly growing older.... Later, Salim and I could no longer meet, but how could I forget about Salim? I would continuously remember his face. On his forehead was a moon-shaped scar. He said that his stepmother had stained his head using an iron tool used to sew shoes. Later, Salim also showed me the tool.
That tool was hefty. This tool was used to turn the shoes upside down and hit the nails or soles on the top. At that time, Salim had told me the name of the tool.
But when I was writing the story of Salim, I forgot the name of the tool, I could not remember. Someday I thought of asking a shoemaker about its name.
Because of that conversation with Salim, I later became associated with cinema making and came to my hometown while filming a movie.
One day the shooting was postponed.
That day I found this incomplete story in the briefcase - 'Salim'. I immediately remembered something. I wore dirty shoes and went out alone.
I asked the shoemaker who was polishing my shoe, "Brother, what is the name of this iron tool?"
He looked at me, saying 'furma'. The same moon-shaped stain on the forehead. Something flashed in my mind like a camera - Salim. But the name did not come out of my mouth. I was shocked to my core. I wore the shoe he polished. I looked at his shop. Forks, palisades, skin pieces, shells, tools, all were the same as of his father. In the same place, in the same position, the same thing.
And the same Salim.
But the movie poster on the wall at Salim's shop was changed. It was one of my movies.