IN A ONE-HORSE OPEN SLEIGH………..and lo, here comes our Santa! We all have grown knowing Santa Claus and searched for gifts under our pillows or in our rooms on Christmas mornings. Yes, and just like the legendary Santa, there are some truly big-hearted people who exist among us and who become Santas of our lives in the times of extreme crisis!!
By Ananya Das Goon
Christmas is a time not only for celebration but also it symbolizes kindness-which one can share amongst each other by sharing gifts. It is a celebration of the spirit of love, togetherness and thinking above one’s own self and forgiving others. It is all about benevolence, forbearance, being compassionate and considerate and above all selfless. In today’s selfish world, such people are very rare who think above their own selfish interests and help others.
According to the Christmas legend, Santa Claus, affectionately known as the ‘Father Christmas’, is the one who distributes gifts to the children- a legendary persona with his friendly nature, open-mindedness and energetic spirit. But in real life there are a few Santas who remain anonymous and extend their utmost capacity to help others. They are the unsung heroes, whose gifts are the greatest of all, sometimes given at the cost of something of their own. This article is about two such heroes.
26/11/2008 will always be referred to as a dark day in the history of India. Also known as the 2008 Mumbai attacks, it is a series of terrorist attacks by 10 members of a Pakistani Islamist terrorist organisation, Laskar-e-Taiba. The attacks, both bombing and shooting attacks, were carried out across Mumbai –at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus, the Oberoi Trident, the Taj Palace & Tower, the Leopold Café, the Cama Hospital, the Nariman House, the Metro Cinema,in a lane behind the Times of India building and St. Xavier’s College. Not only that an explosion also occurred in Mazagaon, in Mumbai’s port area and in a taxi at Vie Parle.It lasted for four days resulting into the deaths of over 170 people and more than 300 were severely injured.
After 60 hours of Commando operation, the boarders and the staffs of the two elite hotels the Taj Palace & Tower and the Oberoi Trident were rescued from the grips of the terrorists. But the freedom came with a high cost!
Rajan Kamble, who was a maintenance staff of the Taj hotel for more than two decades, was also in the list of the deaths. Rajan was an exceptionally kind-hearted man himself who was always ready to help anyone in distress.On the cursed day, Rajan was standing in the hotel foyer when suddenly he noticed 4 unknown gunmen entering the hotel hallway and started shooting indiscriminately. After recovering from the initial shock, he quickly went up to the first floor through the staircase used by the service-staff of the hotel. A number of guests, both Indians and the foreigners, were sitting idly and enjoying the view of the Gateway of India at that time. Rajan quickly guided the guests to a big hall but unfortunately one of the armed terrorists appeared. Rajan could have escaped at that time and saved himself but he was a true hero. He continued ushering the guests to that hall room withoutthinking about his own safety. Kamble was shot in the back with the bullets which perforated his stomach and spilled out his intestines.
Rajan and the guests were later rescued by the Commandos but Rajan breathed his last after eight days in a hospital fighting for his life. He was only 47 years then. One of the Israeli survivors of the hotel said, “If he wasn’t there maybe many of us would have been hit.”
Shruti, Rajan’s wife, who had been married for 11 years to Rajan at that time, was at a loss. The real struggle for Shruti began after Rajan passed away. Being an outcaste she was never accepted by Rajan’s parents. She used to stay at Gorai, a suburb which was 60kms away from Mumbai, with her two children-5 years old Rohan and 3 years old Atharva. Since then she became both the father and the mother to her two sons. It was a tough battle for her but she fought it with immense courage and patience.
At first Shruti was surrounded by a large number of well-wishers but as time went by she became alone as their numbers gradually diminished. Though TATA Company reimbursed Rajan’s dues and compensated Shruti handsomely, the money was not enough to survive in a place like Mumbai. Shruti was very worried how she would raise her two sons in such a situation. Rajan wanted his elder son to complete his schooling from an army school and wished his younger son to become a pilot, but for that schooling from a good school was essential. The Indian Express published it (about Rajan’s wishes) as news. The news reached many but it caught the eyes of a kind Bollywood actor.
The actor then contacted the newspaper agency and expressed his wish to fund the schooling of Rohan and Atharva but only with one condition-the agency should not disclose his name to anyone, not even to Shruti. Since then, the newspaper agency would let the actor know about the whole year’s expenses of the schools of both the boys and the actor would sign the cheque without ever questioning how the money would be spent.
Shruti tried her best to know the name of the person who was helping her but to no avail. Finally after five years the identity of the great actor was revealed to her when the actor died in a Dubai hospital. The date was 28th December, 2013. His mortal remains were laid to rest on 30th December in Mumbai. Shruti was present with her two sons during the burial ceremony. She broke down in tears and exclaimed that she could not thank her God while he was alive and that would always haunt her all her life.
That kind hearted man was none other but the great actor Farooq Sheikh. He worked with some of the best directors of the Indian cinema like Satyajit Ray, Sai Paranjpye, Hrishikesh Mukherjee and many others. He was not only an actor but also a philanthropist and television presenter.
People like Farooq Sheikh and Rajan Kamble are so rare in today’s fake world. ‘Santa’ is not only a name but also the name of a spirit-the spirit of kindness and Farooq Sheikh and Rajan Kamble symbolise that spirit!
The featured image is just a digital representation of the story.
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A die hard fan of detective thrillers and a passionate reader and a plant lover, Ananya spends her time between family, friends and sky gazing. And very often she dreams of a world full of peace, love and happiness.