Sasthi Brata, a graduate from Calcutta, found himself in a dire situation as he desperately searched for a job with very little money to his name. The funds were so meager that he couldn’t even afford basic necessities like food or a cup of tea and snacks. One day, near a coffee house in Connaught Place, he encountered Shovan, a shoeshine boy.

Recognizing his urgent need for employment, Sasthi decided to take up the unconventional job of shoeshining. Shovan, the experienced shoeshine boy, attempted to dissuade him, believing that an office job would be more suitable for an educated individual like Sasthi. However, undeterred by Shovan’s advice, Sasthi remained resolute in his decision.

Understanding the challenges faced by Sasthi, Shovan Lal called a meeting with his fellow shoeshine boys. They collectively decided to extend support to the newcomer. Shovan Lal, acting as a mediator, convinced the group to allow Sasthi to join their ranks under the condition that he would assist the shoeshine union in corresponding with the licensing authorities in English.

In a gesture of solidarity, the shoeshine boys even pooled together some money to help Sasthi acquire the necessary kit for his new endeavor. This collective effort not only facilitated Sasthi’s entry into employment but also showcased the camaraderie and support within the shoeshine community, demonstrating how they came together to help a fellow individual in need.

(a) The Shoeshine is a touching tale that drives home the message that dignity of labour must be respected. No work is small or unworthy. It is hard work and dedication that gives one respect and credibility in life. Describe the relationship between Sasthi Brata and Shovan Lal in your own words.

The relationship between Sasthi Brata and Shovan Lal in “The Shoeshine” is a testament to the universal value of dignity in labor. Sasthi, a well-educated individual facing financial struggles, meets Shovan, a shoeshine boy, during his job search. Initially, Shovan attempts to dissuade Sasthi from taking up shoeshining, feeling that such work is beneath an educated person.

However, Sasthi’s desperate circumstances lead him to embrace the shoeshining job, and Shovan, displaying empathy, understands the gravity of the situation. Despite the perceived societal disparity between their roles, Shovan extends a helping hand, offering mentorship and guidance to Sasthi as he enters the world of shoeshining.

Their relationship becomes a symbol of mutual respect, transcending societal expectations. Shovan’s support goes beyond mere acceptance; he actively involves Sasthi in the shoeshine community, fostering a sense of belonging. The narrative underscores the message that the dignity of labor is not determined by the nature of the job but by the hard work and dedication one invests in any honorable pursuit. The bond between Sasthi and Shovan serves as a poignant reminder that every form of labor deserves respect, emphasizing the intrinsic value of dedication and diligence in shaping one’s credibility and respect in life.

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