“Duniya mein kitna Gham..mera Gham kitna Kam.” ( Compared to the pain in this world, my pain seems so insignificant )
This is an old Hindi song which I have heard many times before. The full meaning of the song hit me sometime ago in a most unexpected place – an autorickshaw.
Some days I feel to lazy to drive to work and then I have to resort to public conveyance. It feels quite nice to catch a few moments with myself while some one else drives me to work (bliss). The problem arises in the evening, specially when I am late in leaving the workplace. Hailing down a taxi or an auto late in the night can be quite unnerving.
On one such day or rather late evening, I was a little flustered having waited for more than half an hour for that elusive taxi, when I saw an auto drawing up close to me. I stated my destination and got in, but only after making a big show of noting the registration number of the vehicle messaging it to someone ( a girl travelling alone late in the night needs to be cautious).
A few minutes into the ride and the driver’s voice broke in through my thoughts. “Madam if you don’t mind, can I say something?” He asked in Hindi.
It had been a long day and I definitely was not in a mood to chitchat with a stranger.. Plus what would a stranger have to say to me. Immediately on the alert, I asked, a little brusquely, “What?”
“Madam, it is quite late, I understand you must have important work which kept you late.. But travelling alone.. Waiting alone for an auto or taxi is not safe. You may ask one of your colleagues to come and wait with you. I hope I haven’t offended you by saying this.” he replied politely.
I don’t know what surprised me more – his words or the fact that the words were spoken in fluent English.
I looked at him again and saw what I missed earlier. He was reasonably well dressed and well groomed. The hands were clean and he was wearing a moderately priced watch on his hand.
He didn’t seem to be the regular auto driver. With my curiosity sufficiently piqued, I said, “No, you didn’t offend me but I would like to know something, if I may ask?”
“You want to know about my English, isn’t it? “he said.
I nodded in the affirmative.
He smiled and said,”Quite not what you expect of an auto walla, no? ” I felt embarrassed but he continued,” Actually I am from quite a well to do family and had a business of my own. But a turn of fate left me with nothing. I was quite depressed for a while and almost gave up on life. But the love of my family kept me going.
That’s when I bought this auto and started ferrying people. Now with the savings I have managed to start my business again, this time as a much stronger person.”
“So since you have started your business again, why then are you still driving this auto ?” I asked, my curiosity getting the better of me.
“This auto taught me a lot, it gave me support when I had nothing, it showed me that there were others in a worse situation than mine. Compared to the pain and loss that I have seen while ferrying people, my loss seems insignificant. So I still drive the auto whenever I can – it keeps me grounded.”
So while the mind mulls over the fact that an end does not necessarily mean an end – it could be the beginning of something more wonderful, the heart breaks again into the age old song – “Duniya mein kitna Gham..mera Gham kitna Kam.”