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Kenya MP returns to repay college debt of Rs 200 to Aurangabad grocer

Kenya MP returns to repay college debt of Rs 200 to Aurangabad grocer

Bros Without Borders: Man who never forgot the help he got from a grocer in Aurangabad

Some three decades back, when Kenyan resident Richard Tongi was studying management in a college in Aurangabad, he didn’t have much money to go around. A local grocer, Kashinath Gawli, used to help him out now and then.

When Tongi returned to Kenya, he still owed Gawli Rs 200. Flash forward to 2019 and the debt stands repaid. Tongi, now a parliamentarian in Kenya, paid the Gawlis a visit on Monday, and the two had a poignant reunion.

When Gawli refused to accept the Rs 200, Tongi gifted some euros (about Rs 19,200) to the kids in his family as a ‘thank you’ for his help all those years ago in 1985-89.

MP Tongi, who holds a degree in management from Maulana Azad College in Aurangabad, is the deputy head of the committee on Defence and External Affairs in the Kenyan Parliament. He arrived in India a few days back as part of a Kenyan delegation that met Prime Minister Narendra Modi. After the meeting, he decided to fly to Aurangabad to look for ‘Kashinath Kaka’ from his college days.

Back then, Tongi used to stay by himself. He would shop for groceries at Gawli’s store in Wankhede Nagar, a popular haunt for foreign students at the time. In fact, it was Gawli who had helped him find a place to stay.

After finishing his course, Tongi returned home and got busy with the rough and tumble of politics. The two did not keep in touch for the 30 years that followed. So when Tongi and his wife, Michelle, landed in Aurangabad, they had to search for two days before they landed at Gawli’s doorstep.

As the two finally met on Monday, Gawli took a while to recognize him. “I couldn’t remember him at first but when he told me about the money, I was left in tears. His honesty has touched me.”

Tongi broke into tears, saying he had waited a long while for this moment. Old tales were relived and the debt repaid. “Kaka helped me then and I am truly indebted to him. I was thinking of ways of returning all his favors. I made up my mind to meet him. I will admit that Indians have taught me to honest,” said Tongi. Michelle said: “Richard had mentioned the Gawli family many times and I am happy to meet them now. There are many good people in this country,” she said.

Gawli, who now owns a four-storey house and a bigger store, received Tongi as warmly as ever. His family gifted him a traditional topi and his wife a sari, and treated them to a feast.

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