Story of a street-child turned image-artist
Old Delhi. Chandni Chowk. Tea Stall.
By now, you probably have an image in your mind. But wait!
Take a deep breath before you start stereotyping. The story here is different; this one is a story of courage, hope, determination, and of dreams – emanating out of the same space; this is about someone I work with now.
He is Sheru; an unsung hero like many others out there, an uncommon commoner.
When I first met Sheru in the Carrot Films office, he was like any other colleague, who I would greet every morning. While working in projects alongside him, I got to know about the documentary on Sheru. After watching the award-winning documentary, the award that I got from the film was a lesson; all you need to have is the passion to make things happen.
The film on him is about a ‘lifetime’ journey of a street child born and living in the capital of India, Delhi.
Sheru, a runaway kid of the streets, was fascinated by the camera when he met our director Ishani at a film-making workshop engaging street kids. He was all but nine years old then. This was when he wandered on streets selling water pouches to earn a living and lived in a night shelter or, at times, inside abandoned buildings along with other friends.
For a long time, he used to call this arrangement ‘home’.
The Capital has many homeless people living here who come with big dreams from their villages to make it big in the city. Sheru’s father, a migrant worker, also came to Delhi but couldn’t keep up with the pace. He fell behind, and got lost in his drunken stupors. His wife soon resorted to illegal liaisons to earn extra bucks for survival; his father with dreams all shattered turned into an hopeless alcoholic to drown his sorrows. The 5 children left to fend for themselves, were in deep distress.
That’s when, Sheru decided to run away to make it on his own.
For his entire early life, he grew up in a surrounding where he saw his mother soliciting the customers, father abusing and beating his mother after drinking, cops beating them up as they would lie on the pavements and one day escaped these harsh realities of his life – only to confront a harsher ambience – life at streets. He is special because he managed to overcome this ‘situation’ – carving an alternate reality for himself.
Our director, Ishani ma’am always takes a special interest in her documented characters – she can’t just leave them alone and move on. Hence, she kept in touch with Sheru all this while – almost like a foster mother. During the show of the film on Sheru at the Woodpecker Film Festival last year, she and Ashish sir even presented Sheru with a DSLR camera, so that he can pursue his passion of street photography.
After completing his school, Sheru took admission in a distance-learning course for graduation, and joined our office as an apprentice. From then to this day, when he has become an expert in image-editing and participates in professional shoots – it’s been an immensely satisfying journey for him, almost like a swim against the tide.
‘’You learn something every day, if you pay attention’’ -Ray LeBlond
I observed Sheru’s love for photography and how each day he would learn at least one new thing and would try to understand the subject better. His quest for learning, to know more about the camera and it’s functioning, makes me realize how crucial it is to be determined towards one thing if you want to learn. He has become integral to Team Carrot, completely.
‘’Keep going, keep growing’’ -Kapten and son
Sheru inspires everyone in the office in such a way that they are always ready to help him. One such person from the office is Abhishek. He left no stone unturned for Sheru’s college admission. He went to every possible college; however, it didn’t work out, even though Sheru had good scores in the 12th standard. He ultimately got admission in an open school with subjects of his choice. He was a little disheartened at the beginning but didn’t let this minor hitch cow-down his spirits.
Sheru is one who believes, in order to grow, one has to keep going.
He is remarkably talented and dedicated to whatever he does. Along with photography, he has learnt how to do image editing, color correction and use other editing software.
Beside this, Sheru fills me up with hope and confidence.
He has recently started posting his work in social media. Baby steps, yes, but in the right direction.
If someone like Sheru can have so much enthusiasm about making it large in life, and can spend tireless days working in a mission mode to achieve that – why can’t we, the relatively privileged class, at least think on the same lines?
Keep fighting Sheru!
Your tooth and claw fight is like a beacon to us, showing us our way forward.