The Happy Rickshaw Driver
“Please sit Madame”. He just stopped the Rickshaw and the three of us got into the Rickshaw without knowing what to expect next. Those words and the inherent hospitality moved me a lot. More so because it came from a Rickshaw driver who are otherwise in my opinion not bothered about etiquette and chivalry.
It was a chilly winter evening in December at Bangalore. My mother and I promptly got into the Rickshaw little to realize that it would be a touching life experience for both of us.I quickly took a quick glance at the driver. Happy was the first word which crossed my mind. He indeed had a cheerful disposition. Tall, broad shouldered, smiling and all of this clad in a crisply ironed uniform. The rear mirror of his Rickshaw had a prayer bead hanging around it. It was as if faith was guiding him at all times while driving his passengers around. We boarded the Rick at Ulsoor and requested him to drop us at MG Road. He promptly obliged and thus began our journey.
The distance was quite a bit. He seemed to enjoy his job a lot. “Since how many years are you driving the Auto Rickshaw?” I asked “8 years Madame” he replied. The traffic scene was very bad and he beautifully maneuvered through the meandering roads and absurdly moving vehicles. He had a very good control over the steering. “You drive the Rickshaw very well,” I complemented him. “Thank you Madame,” he proudly looked at the rear mirror and thanked me.
We were passing through the Indian Army property. Several young men had camped there outside the entrance gate. It looked like they had come for some entrance exam to get into the Indian Army.
“These men come for the exam and dirty the place and go. They have no civic sense and litter the place very badly. I cannot believe that the same youth population gets selected to serve our country,” he murmured under his breath with an annoyed look. I was in awe of this happy man and taken aback with his thought process brimming with patriotism.
The signal turned from green to red at Trinity circle near MG Road. “Actually Madame, I have two jobs. During the day I am a security constable for Police Department and during the evenings I drive the Rickshaw. You see I have 7 siblings and only because of my two jobs I could get all of them married.” I was shocked at his response. His face did not show any signs of tiredness or fatigue. He seemed to have enough energy to drive for another 48 hours.
“Don’t you get tired with 2 jobs back to back?” I asked. “I get good sleep for 5 hours daily Madame. I am happy with that,” he replied. He quickly passed on his Blackberry to me. “I got my photos taken like the movie star Salman Khan in Dabangg. Please check,” he flashed his sleek black Blackberry and handed it over to me. I smiled and all of us shared a good moment of laughter looking at his pictures in Police Uniform and the black Ray-ban glasses nicely perched on his nose with the red hearts blinking brightly in the shades. It was truly Bollywood indeed!
“I like my Police Constable job Madame. I feel like I am doing something useful and valuable for my country everyday. But since the money is not sufficient I took up this job to support my family” he joyfully exclaimed. We had almost crossed the signal and reached out destination MG Road by now. “I have traveled a lot many times in Bangalore on Auto Rickshaw. But you are one of the few Rickshaw drivers who are respectful towards the women. God bless and may you always be happy” I complemented him. “Thank you Madame. 43 Rupees,” he quipped. I handed over 50 rupees to him and he handed over the change of 7 rupees back to me. “Madame, you see the other drivers are not taught to respect women when they are growing up, hence they misbehave and act nasty!” he said. “I agree with you. May Bangalore get more Rickshaw Drivers like you,” I smiled this time and bid adieu to the Rickshaw Driver.
“Thank you Madame Ji”, he kick started his Auto Rickshaw and speeded off into the oblivion. I realized that education alone does not refine and define a man. It is your value system which you have you embraced which makes you a rich person in the truest sense. Money alone does not make one happy. But an open mind and loving heart brimming with contentment, peace and compassion certainly makes one happy. I was extremely happy to have met such a kind hearted Rickshaw driver.
I will always remember him as a Happy Rickshaw Driver!
Ashwini Kamath is a freelance writer based out of New York. She loves writing short stories, poetry and memoirs.
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