It was at the peak of the global Covid-19 pandemic, when a gig worker desperately reached outside a bicycle shop. The half opened shutter and a ray of light beaming out of it gave him hope that he would be able to find a bicycle at this store. A large group of migrant laborer’s were traveling back home on foot or on a bicycle in the emergency lockdown situation in India – all other transportation were closed at that time.
He knocked on the shutter and out came a man with a mask on his face. The gig worker explained that he needs to reach his village anyhow which is hundreds of kilometres far from Mumbai. The only means he could think of is a bicycle – a safest transport during a pandemic where social distance was needed.
“How much will a bicycle cost?” He asked.
“Rupees 5500/- the shop owner replied.”
The gig worker checked his pockets, slipped his hand into his bag and brought out 1700/- Rupees and said, “this is all I have now, when I reach my village home, I will send you the balance money.”
The shop owner paused for a few seconds, then gave him a new bicycle and refused to take the money. He said to the worker “keep this money with you, it will help you in your journey.”
The worker thanked him for his gesture with moist eyes and took a long and tedious journey back home. When he reached his village, he made an emotional telephone call to the shop owner and assured him that he will pay back when he returns to the city. The shop owner acknowledged his situation and wished him good health, safety and luck for his future prospects.
This is a real incident, and the shop owner is Shahid Shaikh of Imperial Cycle Centre – Phoenix Market City, Kurla, Mumbai. Shahid and his staff worked behind the scenes and helped several migrant workers in need during the pandemic.
It is sad that such positive and heartening stories are rarely covered by the mainstream media. But I am glad that I got the opportunity to do it. I am delighted to be a customer of Imperial Cycles – a family-owned business which is more than half a century old in the bicycle trade.
I am looking forward to riding into the new year, a bright future, full of contentment and reaching back home safely after every ride to be with my family; just as the gig worker was able to do it.
Author: Vijay Malhotra, Mumbai