Dua mein yaad rakhunga!

Dealing with autorickshaw drivers is a pain and most of us have shared stories about good or bad experiences with them in different cities. But again, Mumbai has its hatke charm in each and everything. 

So, one evening I was returning home from my dance class. It was slightly late and after a good wait for 20 minutes, one guy was ready to drop me till my place. I was almost thankful that he allowed me to get inside his amazingly modified auto rickshaw. Yes, on the outside it had some green lighting on the rear wheels. Inside, there were these weirdly tall seats, well-cushioned but with bright and huge printed design on them. He had a loud music system on and a noticeable playlist connected from his phone. Ab jaake aya mere bechein dil ko karaar …

On such a tiring day, finding an auto was a relief for me, just for 10 seconds. After that, I realized the condition of the engine was not as decorated and well-maintained as the body of this autorickshaw. It started with a jerk and then the turns were mini roller-coaster rides.

Now, this person was young, an average-looking boy. Probably, a junior college drop-out. But then he started talking! No, I have no problem with people talking about random things. I am not one of those who’d pretend to be deaf if a driver wants to have a small talk. But I had to ask him to keep talking while he also focuses on the road. Thankfully, he agreed and didn’t look back again. I was relieved, just for about 10 seconds. 

Main toh raste se jaa raha tha … Bhel puri kha raha tha …

I noticed that the numbers on the meter kept blinking continuously and were only partially visible. Just the top part of the numbers was visible. I was alarmed and asked him about it immediately. He was surprised too! After pulling over to the side, he checked the meter. I asked him, “Bhaiya, ab paise kitane loge aap?”. He replied, “Madam, wait. Dekhne do. Umm, let me have a look.” Yes, that is exactly what he said. He tried working through some wires. It didn’t work. He simply got in and started driving. I asked him about the money. He said, “Madam, you … can pay ugghh me the money whhhich you pay daily. I am new and the auto is not my own.” After I deciphered what he was saying, I told him that I usually take an auto on this route and I pay this amount. He agreed to drop me till my destination. I was relieved for just 10 seconds, again. 

I don’t know how I got here. I knew it wouldn’t be easy …

Thankfully, we were close to my place. But then this guy lowered the volume and continued talking to me. He told me that he had taken auto rickshaw driving training from one of his neighbors just a month back. I swallowed and held the side bar little tightly. He continued telling me that he has also enrolled for a correspondence degree from a college. I was happily impressed. He went on saying, “Madam, aaj kal na communication ich sab kuch hota hein. I need to improve my English speaking.” I was amazed by his efforts to speak in English. He asked me few words from the song. He told me that he remembers the words and looks for their meanings in an app that he has downloaded on his isssmartphone! 

Finally, we had reached my society. I felt a strange pride in having spoken to this boy who had the guts to challenge his destiny and work hard to fulfill his dreams. I paid him a little extra just to support his hard work in my own way. His response, “Thank you so very much, Madam. You have a kind heart. Dua mein yaad rakhunga!” I was laughing till I reached my door. 

I remember all of the things that I thought I wanted to be …

It isn’t a life-changing incidence but a memorable one for me.

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