The God on the Rickshaw

The eleven-ten BO slow pulled into Platform No. 1 of the Kandivali Station by 2315. Not bad, I thought to myself while I made my way to the northernmost exit. Rolling down my sleeves, a feeble attempt to keep me warm, I climbed down the uneven stairs as I passed the blacked out stores which lined this exit on both sides. Some sold pirated computer games while others sold Chinese bhel and garrish red manchurian balls, which off late have become such a rage on the streets. And of course there's Sugarcane Juice, even Nira in plastic sachets and Bhajiyas all equipped for the thirsty and hunrgy. And there are two temples too. But all the shops were shut. The exit wore a lonely, deserted look. Autorickshaws stood in a long line, awaiting passengers in the cold evening. The ones towards the front, turned you down upfront. Since I stay only 1.4km(wonders of the e-meter) away from the station, I am not the best bakra for them. So I moved a little ahead and asked a fellow clad in full winter gear if he would be kind enough to take me to my humble abode. He bluntly refused.

In a full mood to start a fight, I was about to remind him of the existing laws that govern 'bhada refusal' and my rights and such, when a young fellow clad in a half shirt called out to me and said - "Chalo main chhod deta hu" Mildly surprised and momentarily placated, I loaded my heavy backpack on the seat and sat down myself. He tried the kick(the lever that kickstarts the engine), once, twice and thrice but the engine sputtered and died. I asked him to take it easy and give it full-zabardast-wala try and though sputtering at first, the engine roared to life! He smiled and we began our journey, he soon started talking. He called all of these refusal types - fools, ekdum bewakuf hain woh sab he said. They brought a bad name to the entire 'rickshaw-line', he had a point I said. But I am not like that he confessed. He said he saw God in every passenger, and treated them equally, "jaise aap bhi Bhagwan ho sakte hain". He knew that everyday he wouldn't get a bhada to Bandra so a few smaller rides were good enough too. Curious how he dealt with choleric passengers, always waiting to fight with everyone, I asked him and he replied that he didn't like to respond to them but instead he prayed to Narayan to grant them some  buddhi - wisdom and show them the way. His father had followed this school of thought and he had done well for himself. So without thinking twice, he had adapted to this doctrine.

I had already resolved to leave all the change with him at the end of the trip and though it wouldn't mean much to either of us. Although, I did mention to him that such thoughts and people were indeed rare and the city was in dire need of more such heroes. I remember a time when every journey used to be memorable, filled with tales from the farmlands of UP, Bihar and even Jharkhand. Some spoke of their district with pride and others hailing from places such as Varanasi, invited me over to their homes - "khao-piyo aaram karo mere gharpe, sahab", an auto driver had told me and gave me his contact numbers after I mentioned, that I had been wanting to visit the ghats since a long time. All that is a rarity now. The 1.4 km stretch was covered quickly and we drew to a halt. I paid him, conveyed my thanks and walked into the cold night, which didn't seem as chilly as before. As I walked into my warm home, I was happy to realise that the spirit of the city, continues to live on through such people.




Comments

Rohit Nayak said…
Good one Rushikesh! :-)
Beautiful post, Rushikesh! its due to good souls like these that the city continues to function.. wish there were more, though!
Ani said…
Well said, but increasingly it seems like our perception of warmth (the feeling of it, that is) and belonging is intertwined with feelings of nostalgia. The reason why many of the kind-hearted service providers in Mumbai might have either gone stone cold, or just retreated elsewhere is because of a struggle for identity -- it may not be on the streets right now, but I think we're losing sight of what matters most to us, and being unwilling to adapt as much as we used to. Great story, though!
Rain Girl said…
Its incidents like these that help us retain our faith in the goodness of people.. heart-warming.
Thank you for sharing :)

Payal
Rohit, thanks man! Anuradha, such folks are needed in all walks of life esp in the public services. Anirudh, that is true. It is the rat race, run by not just the corporate slaves but just about everybody in the city that makes us lose sight of those essential things, that can't be quantified. Payal, thank you for dropping by!
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