A lady got into a shared auto and the people she met during the journey changed her perception towards life forever. Ishani wishes to share her interesting story about how one auto ride brought three lives together, and asks some important questions at the end.
It was a very usual Friday morning, as I hopped onto a shared auto to work, thinking assorted thoughts. Suddenly a co-passenger piped up excitedly – I’ve seen you! Surprised, I turned to find a bright eyed young girl with a bundle, and a little boy, trying to grab my attention. She repeated with a smile – I’ve seen you pass by in a car in xyz area once! Initially, I have to admit, I found it a little strange, and responded with a mere oh? and perhaps a polite smile, and went back to tinkering around with my playlist. Scary in fact, to realize you are ‘being watched’, all the time.
Soon enough of course, my curiosity got the better of me, and so, an interesting conversation followed, starting with the inevitable – but how do you remember me, from just a glimpse?
I remember a face when I see it, said 17 year old Mahi, and yours specially was one I’d remember because your hair is very different, referring to my not so usual short hair. Are you from here? Do you work in that area? You see that big white car there? You were in a car like that. Ah.. that sounds like one of the office cars, I said.
She was from Gujarat, and the family was one of pheriwalas, selling traditional Gujarati saris/dupattas. Why Bihar, from so far away? Because there is a demand for our products here. Also, in Gujarat, everything is very sweet, I like the food here – it’s teekha and savoury.
The child with her, who I feared might be an early son, turned out to be her little brother. They had moved to Patna to live with her maternal uncle’s family, after her parents passed away. Did she miss Gujarat? Yes I do, but one has to get used to this. I remember when I first came to Bihar, I didn’t know any Hindi at all. In Gujarat, I could sell my wares in Gujrati. Here no one would possibly understand that! How would I sell my wares then? They speak different languages! I somehow learnt Hindi, and Bihari in my last few years here.
Mahi had never been to school, but knew how to read and write some basic Gujarati – I just got involved with the family trade. Do you like it here? Do you have any friends? Not really, she said. I’m usually busy with this work, and don’t get an opportunity to interact with others. What do you like to do in your free time? Does your uncle have children you get to interact with? Children under 10, she said. She liked to watch TV, and listen to music for entertainment.
As I processed this conversation and her life, the auto driver who meanwhile had been in a very animated phone conversation in the background, turned back with a beam and said – You know, ever since I’ve cleared the auditions and been selected to go to Kaun Banega Crorepati, I’ve been getting so many calls from so many people!
Shock and awe at this new impressive unexpected piece of information. Wow! Tell me more.
So began his story. I decided to audition for KBC – the audition rounds were so difficult – they grill you, and expect you to know a lot. Also, considering my hometown is Bodh Gaya, a place of international importance, they grilled me on that too. I’m also a Bachelors in History, see? So of course they grilled me and asked me so many questions related to History!
A bachelors in History! Exclaimed I. What makes you drive an auto then? I didn’t get a job, and had to fend for my family, so this was the only option I had. Ah, I see.
But this must be so exciting.. being selected for KBC! When do you go on air? Next month, he said. In fact, another auto driver’s wife also got selected recently.. her’s is this month.
By this time, both Mahi and I had reached our destination, so I bid both a warm farewell, and wished them luck, my mind now abuzz like the busiest thought expressway. All of this, in one morning auto ride!
The one amazing commonality, between both stories and people, was the limitless surge of optimism and cheer that emanated from both, despite the many different faces life seemed to have shown them. Such make interesting anecdotes, but at the same time, call for so many more questions. Why is there a 17 year old who has never had the luxury of going to school, or getting an education? Has she ever had the luxury of choice? On the other hand, why aren’t there enough jobs for a bachelors in History? How then, does this obsession with higher education help in any way?
– Ishani Sen