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The experience with the auto driver thought Barkha to not to be impulsive. Sometimes we never understand why certain things happen in our life, but she was sure of one thing – this situation had taught her a valuable lesson.
“Hello Barkha, where are you? I thought I will surprise you by coming home early today, but what a disappointment you’re not at home!”
“Are baba, I had some shopping to do and I’ve come to the main market. Had I known you would come early today, I would have postponed my shopping plan. By the way, I’m done and was about to take an auto home.”
“Come soon, the garama garam samosas and I are waiting for you, and I will also make your favourite adrakwali chai to go with it, jaldi aao.”
“Yes, yes, I will try to reach ASAP re.”
Barkha wanted to reach home as quickly as possible but finding an auto was the most difficult task. She looked at her watch, it was almost 6.30 pm. Usually, it took a maximum of 40 minutes for her to reach home, but she knew it would be difficult to find an auto at this time in the evening. She thanked her stars when she got a ride much earlier than expected. She quickly settled herself and the two shopping bags on the seat of the auto. The fact that it would be difficult to reach home irritated her. She knew that the ride would be full of various kind of hurdles. The rains, heavy traffic and the potholes were all affecting the speed of the auto which was moving at a dreadfully slow pace.
They had barely reached the nearby signal when the auto driver started complaining about the traffic jams, the poor visibility due to rains and the most irritating potholes on the roads. Barkha agreed to most of his statements by replying in monosyllables. Her heart and mind were totally in a hurry to reach home quickly. As the signal turned green the bikes behind their auto started honking and the traffic started moving slowly again.
It had started raining cats and dogs by now and even with the wipers moving at the fastest speed the driver was finding it difficult to drive. She saw many cars and bikes had halted on the side of the road. Thankfully her auto driver did not decide to halt, it looked like as if he was enjoying the bumpy ride.
As soon as the auto would halt due to the traffic jam, the driver would continue talking. At first, Barkha did not pay much attention to his conversation, but with nothing to do with her time, she started listening to his talk attentively. He was telling her about his family and their life in the small town from where he had come to the city. He told her how his parents brought up him and his six brothers and sisters. Today how they were suffering due to lack of enough medical amenities in their remote village. She would often respond with “Hu’s and Ha’s” while he continued to talk incessantly. With great pride, he told her how he wanted his three children to get a good education and so he had brought them to this big city and was working hard to fund their college fees.
“You are doing a very noble job by getting your kids educated in a good college.” She said to him. There was genuine happiness in her tone for his efforts.
Having caught her attention, he turned around when the auto halted at the next signal and asked “Madam, I want my children to succeed in life and live life like how you people live. I don’t want them to struggle like me. That is the only expectation I have from them. I told them I will work very hard and will meet all your demands. I just want them to concentrate on their studies and pass their exams with flying colors. Madam, you seem to be well educated and from a good and affluent family?” he said looking at her through the rear view mirror.
Barkha smiled and nodded in affirmation to his statement as he continued. “Madam, I am struggling hard to fulfill everyone’s demands even after working two shifts. If you don’t mind my asking, can you donate me some money so that I can use it to treat my old parents? I am asking you to donate money for a good cause. My parents and my family will always be grateful for your kindness and we will pray for the well-being and success of you and your family.”
Barkha was taken aback at this sudden turn of events. Her mind could not process his sudden demand for money and she fell short of words to reply to him. “Bhai sab, but how can I help you?” She blurted out without thinking, her voice sounded tense now.
“Madam, if you can help me with some money I will be able to take my father to a good hospital.”
“Why… what happened to your father and what is he suffering from? Barkha asked the needed questions, fearing to get the name of some dreadful disease.
“Madam, the doctor in my village said his Bawasir problem has worsened and he suggested that I should take him to a good hospital in the city. My father is almost 85 and in a lot of pain, I am really worried about him. I am collecting money for his treatment but I have not been able to save much up till now.” He said with a sad face.
“Oh! piles ki problem” Barkha managed to say out the translated name of the disease while trying to sympathize with his feelings. Her mind was in total shock and she was not able to analyse the situation and had no clue if the driver was fooling or was genuinely asking for help.
Her mind was having a dual fight now; she was not able to figure out if this man was trying to con her or if he was genuinely in need of money? Anyway, while she was contemplating over the issue of helping him, she was also thinking if her small contribution will actually relieve the poor fellow from his problems. She also remembered how her parents had taught her that you should help those who are in need and that we should always share what we have, with others.”
While the empathetic part of her mind was making plans to help the poor man, the more logical part of her mind was saying “How will you know if this man is not lying? He might be flinching money out of all his customers and utilizing it on indulging into vices. If you give money to such a man your kind gesture will be a waste”
Barkha’s mind was into a total chaos which was actually giving her a mild headache also. She picked up her mobile to call Raghav, and tell him about her whereabouts. As she picked her mobile to call she noticed that the mobile battery had drained out to almost 6%. It was almost 7.30 by then, and she knew Raghav would be irritated and also angry as she had ruined his evening plans. She was still a few kilometers away from her house and the traffic was getting worse as she was nearing her destination.
Barkha’s mind was working overtime now to find a way to come out of this difficult situation. The driver was continuously talking to her telling her how his relatives in the village are of no use and how hard he was working to fulfill his family’s needs and all.
“Bhaiya, I can totally understand what you are saying but you see I do not have any money left with me just now. You can see I have just come back from the market and I have spent most of the cash I had.” She told him genuinely
“You see I am a housewife and my husband is the only person who is earning. So if I have to help you I will have to ask him first.” She wanted to help him but since she had never done this before she did not know what to say and do. But she wanted him to understand her situation.
“What I would suggest is as we reach my building I will call my husband and you tell him your situation. And then he will decide how much money we can give you” she finally told him her plan.
There was silence at the other end as the driver was trying to understand her plan. Finally, he said “Madam, what I would suggest is you give me whatever little you have with you just now. I just remembered I have to take my wife to the doctor and as it is raining heavily she will not go alone. I won’t have enough time to talk to sir and explain my situation.” He said hurriedly.
Barkha was shocked at his response, she soon realized that this person was a thug. He was trying his luck to mince out some money from her looking at her innocent face. Now she was tenser and wanted to reach home as quickly as possible. As the auto entered their residential complex and she got down, she handed him the actual fare and 100 rupees extra saying that was the only amount left in her wallet.
She reached home safely and narrated the incident to Raghav. He reacted with anger at first but then was also relieved because she had reached home safely.
“Barkha, not all people you meet will be thugs. I am happy and relieved to see that you handled the situation well. You see every person we meet in our life teaches us something. You will meet many such people, some will teach you lessons, some will inspire you and some will simply love you. And who knows, the driver might actually be a genuine person and whatever he told you might be the truth.”
Whatever the truth might be, Barkha thought she will never ever know it. She had never faced such a situation in her life before, and she was happy that she saved herself from getting duped just in time. She remembered that her gut was continuously cautioning her about the driver, but her emotional side was not ready to listen to it then. Ironically it was that last minute extra shopping that had saved her from getting cheated. If she had more cash left in her wallet she would surely have handed it over to the driver. The experience had taught her many things, the most important being not to be impulsive. Sometimes we never understand why certain things happen in our life, but she was sure of one thing this situation had taught her a valuable lesson.
Earlier Published here.
Image Source – By ItsZippy [CC BY-SA 3.0 ], from Wikimedia Commons
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