The story of Amin Sheikh is both chilling and inspiring. As a boy he has experienced lot of hardship and reading his autobiography, “Life is Life, I am Because of You” will surely bring tears in one’s eye. It is a miracle book.
In many houses, when the five year old boys were pampered and nurtured with love by the parents and elders, Amin was made to work at a tea-stall. He was ill-treated at the tea-stall and subjected to abuse by his stepfather, sometimes his mother too at home. One day, the two trays full of tea glasses taken to deliver to a nearby factory tripped down and smashed. In fear of facing the tea-stall owner,
Amin ran out of that life.
His heart broke when he thought of leaving his little sister at home and escape. But he had no other choice. Amin reached at the Malad railway station. He started to live with the number of small children who were either begging, cleaning, selling items, scavenging or fighting among themselves. The station became his home for nearly three years.
By the age of eight, he had finished seeing many hardships in life – being forced to smoke, drink and indulge in sex. One day, he saw his little sister Sabira at Dadar station. She had run away from home looking for him.
A miracle happened in their life. Amin and his sister were picked up by Sr. Seraphine and Fr. Placido Fonseca, who took them to Snehasadan, a home for homeless children. There, Amin grew up under the care of Fr. Placido Fonseca for ten years. In his autobiography, Amin says the ten years period was a period of bliss.
Children of all caste, creed and religion played together inside and at times hate and terror wars fumed on outside the walls of the home. They were sent to Municipal schools.
When Amin was sixteen, he launched his business of selling newspaper. One day, he came to see his father Plassey. He told him that he had to go work with Eustace Fernandes, a renowned artist. In 2003, Eustace set him up with a second hand car and he started running his own cab company with it.
Amin got a chance of meeting many foreigners, who were regular guests of Eustace. Eventually, he began to enjoy showing foreigners around Bombay. A British woman told him that she had been in a lot of cabs but none showed her Bombay the way Amin did.
Eustace took Amin on a Europe trip. Amin got a chance of seeing different people, different worlds and people so different. At that moment, he got the desire of opening a cafe where he can employ street children to work and provide them with a semblance of childhood. He also wants to name the cafe as, “Bombay to Barcelona Library Cafe.”
A Spanish client of him, Martha Mquel, became Amin’s inspiration to write his autobiography. He started writing a book. It took him eleven months to write it and his friends helped him to design the book cover, edit, promote and do anything that makes a book a book.
His book, the story of his life – Bombay Mumbai: Life is Life, I am Because of You was published in January 2013. Today his book has been translated into seven languages which include English, Marathi, Spanish, Catalan, French, German and Hindi (the Hindi and German version is expected by the end of February). He still sells his book himself on the streets. So, far he has sold 9500 copies only by word of mouth.
Amin’s ambition of starting a cafe called ‘Bombay to Barcelona’ is not accomplished as he has not gathered enough funds yet.
By reading Amin’s autobiography, we can clearly understand Amin’s vision and perception about the society and the life he had lived is something that even a highly educated person cannot imagine.
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