21st December 2017 was a usual day in the life of 68-year-old Sarla Namboodiri who runs Arunodaya English School for primary and preprimary kids in Chembur, Mumbai.
Like everyday she drove to the school in her car and parked it a little away from the building. At 3pm, on her way back, she decided to take an auto-rickshaw to reach the car park which is at a distance, since she faces difficulty walking.
This auto happened to belong to rickshaw-driver Amit Gupta. As soon as Sarla got off the vehicle, she realised she left her bag in the auto.
The contents of the bag included over Rs 80,000 in cash (fees collected from students), her credit and debit cards, Aadhaar, driving licence, PAN card, car registration documents, two cellphones, house keys and even her locker keys.
The woman panicked.
Speaking to the Times of India, she recalled the horror saying, “I live alone and the school was to stay shut the next day. For a minute, I did not know what to do. I drove to the school and asked the peon to look for the auto. One of the peons went up to the main road and approached a paan vendor, who said that the auto driver had made a stop at his shop and that his name was Amit Gupta.”
With no number, address or number plate details of the auto, Sarla considered lodging a police complaint.
Little did she know all it would take was 30 minutes, until autodriver Amit Gupta rushed to the school with the bag and all its contents intact. It so happened that another passenger who boarded the vehicle after Sarla, saw the bag and told Amit. He was quick to recollect it belonged to Sarla.
Sarla heaved a sigh of relief and thanked Amit. It wasn’t until he left,did she realise she hadn’t taken down his number or any other contact detail.
“I wanted to do something for him. I approached the paan vendor, but the phone number he gave me was wrong,” she told TOI. And though the following month she struggled with health issues the educationist did not stop her lookout for the driver. After a long period of over two months, she finally tracked Amit and invited him to the school.
Moved by his financial crisis, she awarded him for his honesty in a way that was beyond generous.
Despite riding an auto for years, Amit couldn’t afford sending his two kids to school.
“Had Gupta not brought my bag back, I would have had to face a lot of trouble..I found out that he wasn’t doing well financially. I learnt that he had two kids but couldn’t afford to send them to school. Being a former teacher and with my experience in the education sector, I decided to provide his children free education,” Sarla told TOI.
Amit was also lauded for his honesty and awarded Rs 10,000.
What better gift than free education? We salute Amit Gupta for setting such a selfless example and Sarla for proving education could go a long way in transforming lives.
Feature image in-set credit: TOI