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The other day, I got into a rick. I was in a hurry. R’s daycare closes at 8.00 PM and it was already 7.30 PM. RD couldn’t pick her up and I had to reach her daycare in a hurry. I told the rick guy, please take me to the daycare and from there home.
He didn’t say anything for a while and told me ‘Madam, how long do you plan to wait at the daycare’?
I told him, ‘not more than 2 minutes, I am already late’
He agreed and then once I picked up R, he told me the story of his life.
(Don’t ask me why he told me, but well, may be he just wanted a listener, and I happened to be the only one around)
This guy is from a place called Gorakhpur. He is married with two children. A boy who is 10 years and a girl who is 6 years old. His son studies in Allahabad where he is put up in boarding school since he was 8 and the guy pays 1.5 lakhs per annum for his schooling/boarding/lodging.
RM: Why not your daughter?
Guy: she is still young madam, but she goes to a school in my village
RM: Your wife is not with you here in Bombay?
Guy: oh yes, I plan to bring her here in July. I had sent her back for a while, but I miss her and I want her back here. I will get my daughter here as well and put her in a local school here.
You know madam, you should keep only three people in your heart. Your mother, your father and your wife.
RM: What? no kids…?
Guy: madam, our kids are our responsibility, but once they grow older, you should just let them go. They will have their life and their families, but you will have only your wife as your company in old age
RM: hmmmm, thats true..does your wife work there?
Guy: no, I won’t let her work also. I am here to give her anything she wants. I will drive my rick 24 hours, but I won’t let her work.
RM: But, isnt that wrong..what if SHE wants to work..she wants financial independence
Guy: Well… (for a while he was silent..I thought he got offended)…then he said, Madam, you are right, I haven’t ever thought that ways. I always thought she wants to bring up our kids and give them good sanskars, but I think I will do one thing. I am not very confident letting her leave home, may be I will ask her if she wants to pursue her hobby of doing sewing, and embroidery..she is excellent in it, and often asked me earlier to get her the materials..may be she can convert her hobby into a vocation. I will ask her. Thank you madam for telling me..I never thought she may want to be independent
RM: But what if she wants to go out and work and can do it when your daughter goes to school?
Guy: I don’t know madam, she has never expressed a desire, may be I should ask her…
RM: That’s great!
Guy: you know madam, before marriage, I was a drunkard, sitting here and there, playing jua and cards and just whiling away my time. I had a marketing job and bad company. Then when I got married, my wife who was from the village, never was happy. One night, I came home drunk and she started crying. I slept off, but I think she cried the whole night. She is 10th pass you know. She is capable enough to teach my children. Anyways, she kept crying the whole night I think and when I got up in the morning, I realised I was wrong to get a woman in my life and make her cry. I decided that day, no more bad company no more drinking and ensure NEVER to let tears in my wife’s eyes because of me. and then I got my own rickshaw and started driving madam, now I am proud to tell you that I do the driving in the morning and usually reach home by 8 ish and spend time with my child and wife. We are so happy.
RM: wow, that’s a great thing you have done
Guy: (shyly asking me) Madam do you think I should get myself operated, you know..errr…not to have more kids? I don’t want more children..I just want to ensure my two kids have the best of education and good values and grow up to be good humans…I asked my wife and she is not saying anything
RM: errr…errr…isn’t it you and your wife’s decision? Who am I to tell you anything..
Guy: Phir bhi madam, what do you feel?
RM: Well, its a very personal thing bhaisaab…I would just say that don’t have kids if you can’t afford them..it’s easy to bring them into the world, but extremely difficult to nurture and take care of them
Guy: Sahi bola madam, I think after my wife comes, I will speak to her and get the nasbandi done…
Guy: madam, you didn’t feel bad na that I spoke so much
RM: no no bhaisaab, I am glad to hear your story…you are really a great man to have changed so much and ready to realise that your wife has her own individuality and ensure your girl and your boy both study. I am glad to meet you.
And then we got off the rick.
I think these are the people who make me realise that India, perhaps, indeed, can shine after all.. It’s just a matter of changing one’s mindset!
I don’t know if the guy will get himself operated, or whether he will let his wife work or his daughter study, but I know for sure that he has the inclination to do all that..he has the desire in him to change and he has the will in him to make it work…I just hope all that happens.
PS – The entire conversation took place in Hindi. I just translated to the best I could remember
Pic credit: Bottled Bohemia (Used under a Creative Commons license)
R’s Mom is a working mother in Mumbai trying to balance work, home and
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