Friday, 30 September 2016
The Personal Battle
In absence of partitioned cabin in taxi like in the western countries and with the custom of sitting on the front seat beside the driver, it becomes difficult to travel without talking. The taking leads to insight of the personal life, especially if the person is frank and the frankness leads to frankness. Everyone of us has a battle to be fought on the personal front, whether one is filthily rich or pathetically poor.
The taxi – Ford Figo – zoomed at a break neck speed along the double laned highway towards Bhutan. The silence was broken by the customary asking of the names. He said his name was Kalita. In return I gave out my name. During the one hour journey a complete stranger who negotiated over the fare among many of them crowding over me to auction their taxi for hire, only difference here was that the lowest bidder would be hired. The union was too strong and there were no bidder and only one of them spoke. I left the gathering and went for a cup of tea. As I was sipping the hot tea in a hot weather, Kalita approached me with a reasonable fare of Rs. 1000 for a journey which was approximately 45 km.
During the course of the journey he told me that he had to pay the monthly installment of Rs. 10000. He has a mother, wife and a daughter to look after. His father passed away when he was quite young. He has to earn more than 10000 per month to meet the ends. He was barely able to earn that amount due to stiff competition. He also told me that he was glad to earn Rs. 1000 in lump sum that day from me. The story touched my heart. He was frank and I knew that he was not lying.
In the silence that ensued, he was busy negotiating the gentle turns and avoiding hitting a goat there and a cow here, a ricksha here and a cyclist there. Indian roads can have anything on the road therefore, you require a good horn and a great amount of patience. I was thinking of the battle that each one of us has to fight to pull ourselves through along with our families. Each man, each cyclist, each taxi carries a story of worries, happiness and struggle.
I just wished that I could help him and the others like him. But then it would be beyond the capacity of, even the God to do so. When one has no problem one ought to be dead. One hour journey that day ended in a jiffy. I was at my destination and it was time to pay up. The auctioning and the bargaining ab-initio bore no relevance for I paid up more than what was demanded by the highest bidder.
He was puzzled by the gesture. The mutual gratitude was expressed through the eyes. The twinkling in his eyes cannot be replicated. I got his number saved and if I require a taxi my friend will be summoned. A complete stranger turned friend within one hour. Simplicity and the truthfulness is the key.