Moral Short Story – The Autorickshaw Walah
I was looking for an auto to come back home from GIP- it was already 815pm, I saw this auto rickshaw near a Paanwala and I went and asked the Auto walah is he ready to go to Vaishali Sec-4?? The Auto Walah was not a ‘bhaiya‘, he was an ‘uncle’ and he had white hair, half bald head, tall personality, laughing face, and twinkling eyes- kind of ‘Santa Calusish” We bargained- he wanted Rs150 and I was not ready to yield more than Rs.120. I won.
He says, “Beta let me have a paan” and then he comes back and we start the wonderful interaction.
He asks me if I was from Bihar (I know my accent gives me away and I love it) I smile and say, “yes I am”,
he says he is from there too and smiles and says that we are lucky we sit at the back side of the auto not the front, we should thank our stars- I agree of course. He then asks if I have heard of Dinkar and Vidyapati,
“Dinkar to aapke gaon ke aaspaas ke hi hain“. (Dinkar’s residence was near your native place only)
I tell him that I love Dinkar’s poetry and ‘Veer-ras’. He was happy to hear it. Then he told me that he wanted to be a teacher, he worked hard to get a B.Ed but in the end he lost- and with bitterness he blames the Bihar administration for his loss- As per his exact words-
“Waha ke haalaat ke chalte hamko auto chalana pad raha hai, warna hum bhi kuch hote shayad, nahi bi hote to kuch bachcho ke mann mein apna jagah bana paate- yaha auto chala ke kaun apne sawaariyon ke mann mein jagah bana pata hai“. (Its because of the condition there that I have to make survival through this auto, otherwise my fate would have been something else- if not extraordinary- I would have had at least appreciation of my students- no passenger can appreciate an Auto rickshaw driver).
He remains silent for a while then he says,
” Madam hum gana gaa lein“,
I was so intrigued, I said yes and he started singing the poems of Vidyapati ji in Maithili-
“Jaldi Bujhao Hamra Pyas ho” (Quench my thirst please) – a poem depicting the thirst of the poet and his begging of water from Ugna his man-servant who was actually the incarnation of Shiva- Such brilliant voice, such clear dictions, I could hear him over the rumbles of auto and chaos of traffic. I did not want him to finish singing- but he did only to explain to me the meaning and the whole incident of how Shiva came to Vidyapati, how Ugna gave Ganga Jal to Vidyapati, how Vidyapati’s wife beat up Ugna with a broom and how Vidyapati cried in Anguish when Lord left him- he also sang another Vidyapati’s number-
“Ganga Maiya kakhana Haraba dukh mor” (When will you take away all my pains O Mother Ganga). I could actually feel the tremor in his voice- as if it him who was calling upon Mother Ganga to redeem his soul. I had Goosebumps.
He then asks my qualification- I told him about my doing BA from JNU- he was suddenly so excited, he said that his grandson is appearing for 12th this year and he wants him to study in a reputed college and learn a Bidesi Bhasa (Foreign Language) and get away from India, as he thinks that Lalu is like Raktabeeja (A mythological character who clones himself) and sooner or later India will suffer what Bihar did. He does not want his grandson to witness that so planned out a life for him- he has already thought of JNU, actually he researched with the help of cyber cafe owner about the prospects of languages etc and has selected a few for his grandson.
Then he said something to me, “Madam, kabhi dahej mat dena , na khud iska sahyog kariyega na hi apne pita ji ko ise dene dijiyega- lalach ko badhata hai- hum apna auto chala chala ke jama kiye the ke apni beti shaadi achhe se karenge- 4 lakh diye they- byah ke time to koi kuch nahi bola, sab raji khusi ho gaya par saadi ke duyie saal baad hamara naati ke janam ke baad gala ghont ke maar diye aur bole ke prasav mein mrityu ho gayi- kisi ko uske gale ka nisaan nahi dikha na hi hamari beti kabhi hamse koi sikayat kari- hum ro ro ke reh gaye- kenahu lad jhagad ke apne naati ko saath laye, hum aur uski naani dono mil kar paale hain- yahi DAV mein padhta hai- khelne koodne mein bhi badhiyan hai, par ma hai nahi baap kasai hai…” (Madam, do not support dowry, even if your father insists, I had a daughter and I wanted her to be married comfortably- gave her husband 4 lacs and everything seemed hunky dory and after two years as soon as my grandson was born, she was killed by strangulation and the childbirth was mentioned as a cause. no one saw the marks on her neck. I fought and brought back my grandson here and my wife and me take care of him- he studies in DAV and is a good sports man too) The last statement was with pride and a sense of achievement and a feeling of desolation
As my home neared, he told me, “Koi kisi ka bhagya to khata hai nahi, hamari kismat to hamarri hi rahegi- meri beti gayi to ek beta mila- uska bi kismat dekhiye- auto chala kar bi hum uski saari maang poora kar hi dete- kami to hai nai- jitna milna tha humako- isse jyada kabi milta nahi aur jitna mila hai usse mera koi chura nahi sakta” (No one can steal someone’s destiny, I lost my daughter, but I have a son now and look at his destiny- I am and Autorickshaw driver yet I am capable enough to fulfill whatever he wants. I got what was mine, I could never have gotten anything more- and nobody can take even an ounce away, if its mine.).
I reached my destination, he turned back when I was giving him money, he refused and said,
“Hamare beti jaisa dikhti ho isliye itna keh diye, appan beti se paisa lenge?” (You look like my daughter, do you expect me to take money from my daughter?), tears streaming down his cheeks.
I was dumbstruck, but how could I leave without paying him and if I pay, it will be insulting, I folded my hands and asked him that since you said that I look like your daughter, then please let me pay for “my son’s” JNU prospectus and form, I asked him to take that money as a token from his long lost daughter. I gave the money and went to buy some medicines from the nearby store without looking back.
I know many of you may say that I was conned, even if I was, I don’t care-words are not enough to show his feelings and genuineness…
That is my story and as Jeffrey Archer says- and there hangs a tale- I was fortunate to meet him- I have something new to tell you.