A story which touched my heart. Our first visit to one of the most renowned weaver families in a small village of Gujarat, we were introduced to Khimji Bhai. He was sitting quietly in a corner under the shed on a sunny afternoon and sorting the local wool fibers. He was wearing a plain white kurta and dhoti, a local traditional dress for men and had a sort of zen look on his face. Though other weavers were curious to know more about the visitors and everyone said hello to us, Khimji Bhai was engrossed in his work. He gave us one glance and got back to sorting the wool.
Couple days passed by and while we were engaged with the other weavers behind the loom, we never got any attention from Khimji Bhai. Tea breaks, lunch breaks, Khimji Bhai was always in his corner doing his work. He rested once in a while but never spoke to any of us. I asked my fellow weaver about him and then we heard something we never though of.
Khimji Bhai is 72 years old (I know!) and is the oldest member of the weaving community. He comes to work every single day and works as much as any other weaver! We were pointed towards one pair of slippers which looked unusual to us. These were no ordinary pair of slippers. They belonged to Khimji Bhai. He has been wearing these slippers since last 15 years and were made by his late son for him. He never lets go of these. If anything tears, he repairs them with whatever he finds around him and make them sturdy again. There were bits of old tyres, leather, nails, wood, metal etc. These now weigh more than 3 kgs!!! Every year in March, Vankar community walks to their temple in Rajasthan for 20-25 days continuously covering 700 kms. Khimji Bhai walks every year without fail for 700 km wearing his precious slippers in memory of his late son. He never complains and always has a smile on his face. His source of happiness now is - his grandchild.
Fun fact about him - he loves to eat sweets and has them for lunch and dinner while we try and avoid them at half his age!