What is true, unconditional love? Is it when you decide to give everything in love, including yourself? Is it when you are ready to make sacrifices, expecting nothing in return or is it when you forget yourself and become one with your love? Very difficult to answer, but probably the answer lies somewhere around it.
Here is an instance.
One fine day, when a wheelchair-bound disabled beggar Abbas Mian from Bangladesh offered 50 Takas to a sex worker Rajiya Begum, when she was crying below a tree lamenting her destitute situation, little did she know that this gesture by Abbas would change her life forever. On getting the money, Rajiya said she won't be able to give back 'anything' in return.
In reply to that, Abbas said that he doesn't want anything in return, she can keep the money for any use, and this is all he has, according to the internationally acclaimed photographer GMB Akash's Facebook Post (14 May 2017).
In the words of Rajiya, "For the first time, someone gave me something without 'using me'. That day I cried deeply while returning to my hut. That day, for the first time, I felt loved."
Rajiya Begum had been forced into prostitution when she was very young. Then, she gave birth to a beautiful daughter, who she said, is her ray of hope. When she went out at nights, her daughter would always ask her where she was going.
Rajiya said it was very difficult to lie to her daughter, especially when she asked questions with a smile. But whenever she went out, her daughter would give her a hug.
Rajiya doesn't know her age, where she had come from and who were her relatives. All she knew was, she wanted to get out of this trap!
And she got out of that after meeting the love of her life.
Women enter prostitution when all doors are closed for them. It's the last resort for them, and throughout the life, they try to come out of it, because it's not a profession by choice.
Abbas Mian has had a tough life. A beggar on a wheelchair is a cruel scene. But he had managed somehow until Rajiya entered his life. Abbas Mian's first wife left him because he was disabled. Over and above that, he was left on streets to fend for himself.
But Abbas Mian is a man with a big heart. All he had was 50 Takas, and he gave it all to Rajiya.
Beauty is in giving.
When Rajiya returned to her hut after getting 50 Takas from Abbas, she felt that for the first time in her life someone did not expect anything from her in return. For the first time, she felt a sense of belonging. Touched by the warm gesture, Rajiya searched for the man for many days. One day, she found him sitting under a tree.
"After gaining lot of courage I told him that I won't be able to love again, since it's very difficult for a prostitute to love someone, but I could push his wheelchair for lifetime." That moment, he smiled and said, "Not everyone can push wheelchair without love."
And love can blossom anywhere, in any form because it's the most beautiful emotion. It doesn't see colour, status, religion or other man-made barriers.
Since then, the duo connected and bonded over sorrows, sufferings and difficulties and are married for four years now. Although the couple subsists on their daily income, they make sure to be with each other. Everything is not all rosy, but Abbas Mian has kept his promise and never let Rajiya Begum cry ever again.
Rajiya's daughter, Tumpa has also accepted Abbas as her father and all three live together now. We can say that this is the purest form of love because it has empathy and compassion at its core.
You never can guess the connection and reaction!
Life can be callous and harsh for disadvantaged sections of society. It can be worst for beggars and sex workers. These are forced situations, and coming out from such a trap is an uphill, or nearly impossible task. This is the harsh reality, and millions of people all over the world are living in this dark world.
But the positive side is, love doesn't look for the man-made situations. It can blossom anywhere, anytime. There's a saying in Hindi, "Lotus blooms in the mud."
Rajiya's first person account of her story will surely melt your heart. What she has gone through will make you understand the cruel realities of life.
And that makes us realise that how blessed and privileged we are. We have a roof over our head, food on our plate and a family to fall back on.
Still, we are complaining.
GMB Akash has brought this beautiful photo-story to the world on his Facebook Page. He mostly documents the street life and captures sufferings and pains of people around him. According to Wikipedia, he has won more than 100 international awards and his work has been featured in over 70 major international publications.
Without Akash's efforts, we would be bereft of this beautiful, intense story.
And what does the story teach us? Acceptance.
I have seen Akash's complete works, and what he mostly captures is the dark world around us where nobody dares to tread. But somewhere, he always finds positivity, like Rajiya and Abbas story.