My Brother, Sharjeel Imam

Sharjeel Imam, my brother Sharjeel Imam. Being his only sibling, I can assure you that no other person on this earth has seen him from closer quarters than I have.

Who Is Sharjeel Imam?

I am writing this piece to let you understand the man instead of his writings and speeches.

Me, with my brother, Sharjeel.

I have envied him all my life. People who have siblings excelling in academics can share my grief, especially, if they, like me, are mediocre students. This man excelled in school, and then in college, while I struggled to pass through the subjects. No wonder I was always the bad kid, a failure, for my parents.

In contrast to his IIT-Bombay and JNU credentials, I pursued my graduation from a private university, enough reason for my parents to scold me.

Coming back to this person, Sharjeel Imam. Who is he? I have heard people saying that he is a politically ambitious man or a man looking to make money. I have not heard better jokes. People who know him, I bet very few do, will surely laugh at this.

Although there is a lot that can be said, I would like to recall a particular incident. When in school, Sharjeel and I used to receive one rupee each, from our mother, to have samosa during recess.

When he was in the 6th standard, an old beggar met us in the morning, asking for food, and Sharjeel gave that one rupee to him.

When we returned home from school, he asked our mother to serve lunch fast, as he was famished. Mother asked if he hadn’t had his samosa, and he innocently replied, that he had given his rupee to a hungry old man in the morning. I always thought that he was crazy to think of others before himself.

Whenever our mother asked him to purchase vegetables etc., he would always buy those at a price much higher than the market rate.

On being asked the reason, he would innocently say, “ammi jaane do na, dhoop me khada tha, 30 ki jagah maine 50 de diye” (mother, leave it, the vendor was standing in the sun, I gave him 50 instead of 30 rupees).

He would do the same with rickshaw pullers, saying that one cannot bargain or put a price on the sweat of human labour.

I never tell people what an ‘impractical’, ‘insane’ and ‘crazy’ man he is. Can you believe, that a person who once earned a handsome salary, and still gets a fellowship, has never purchased a single piece of clothing in his life?

For his whole life, our father would purchase clothes for him, and after his demise, I, his younger brother, would purchase them for him.

To be honest, the clothes in which people have seen him belong to his brother or his friends. The only commodity, sorry to call these commodities, because many, including Sharjeel, won’t agree on calling them commodities, he has ever invested in is his books.

He can buy thousands of books. For food, clothes etc., he is dependent on others.

As I have already pointed out, he was a genius as a school kid. Sharjeel had mastered C++ and Java (computer languages) in 8th standard itself.

When he scored 98 in computers, in 10th standard, everyone was shocked. People couldn’t believe that he had not scored a perfect 100. Copies were sent for a recheck.

Almost everyone, by now, is aware of him being an IIT-Bombay graduate, but few know that he worked as a researcher in Amsterdam, and decided to return to India to serve the Indian society.

He believed that India needed scholars like him, and if he decided to leave the country, it would be society’s loss.

When offered a job of Rs. 40 Lakhs by a USA bank, he rejected it. For us, normal, practical people, this was an insane decision. He decided to take up a job in Bangalore, at a much lower salary (a Rs. 12 lakh package).

Very few will believe if I say, that Sharjeel Imam while working in Bangalore, and earning 12 lakh/year, commuted with a bicycle, wore slippers and kurta to work.

People who have seen him driving a motorcycle recently, might not know that it belongs to me, and not Sharjeel.

Though Sharjeel was earning a dream salary, he decided to leave the job and take admission at JNU. He wanted to understand Indian society better.

My brother is impractical, someone who thinks of the society, of fellow humans and of his nation, before himself.

He learnt many languages to read primary sources. English, Hindi, Urdu, Persian, Arabic, Bengali, German are a few of the languages he can read.

The only thing that Sharjeel Imam can be accused of is insanity. Who on earth gives his own food to a beggar? Who leaves an opportunity to settle in a European country?

Who rejects a Rs. 40 lakh package? Who leaves a well-paid job to study history? Who buys books instead of good food and clothes? Shouldn’t he be tried for being insane, crazy, impractical and maniac?

My brother is impractical, someone who thinks of the society, of fellow humans and of his nation, before himself.

The author is the brother of Sharjeel Imam & has done masters in Journalism and mass communication.

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