This incidence has been playing on my mind for a while. I have been travelling like mad and this was supposed to be yet another trip to the railway station. However, I was in for a surprise as I hailed an autorickshaw to catch my train.
Who knew that the driver was about to make such a profound impact! He began with the usual – “Going home for the holidays? Where are you from?” Cautious and alert, I responded to his questions. He slowly steered the conversation to professions and life in general, adding his own two cents in the process. And the next twenty minutes unraveled many preconceived notions about life.
He admitted unabashedly that he is ‘angutha chap‘ (illiterate) and yet the insights he offered on the administrative state of affairs would have made any journalist salivate. An engaging man, there was pride laced in his words as he told me about his cousin who had completed his graduation and now had managed to buy a comfortable flat. As he spoke of his children, parental determination flared in his eyes, “Come hell or high water – they will complete their education. They will not be left without the luxury of choice unlike him.” Right now, they are a family of eleven people staying in a small six room house with two bathrooms. As long as his children could study in peace, he would happily continue sleeping in the hall.
Fond of gardening, he tended two gardens – a common terrace garden and one in their balcony that blooms with different jasmines. He handed me one – radiant and delicate. It’s a good day, he said. The flowers were an offering for the deity he frequented. He offered me one more flower seeing the delight evident on my face. He quietly added that he hoped the fragrance was lovely as he hadn’t taken a whiff. “It’s for the Gods. It’s not my place.”
Instinct said this wasn’t a case of blind faith but years of learned and lucid belief. This was a man who had a difficult upbringing but hadn’t let it become an excuse. He had made the best of what he had and not buckled down ! He had adopted a philosophy to make lemonade out of the lemons and have enough to share as well.
More than anything else, he was a reminder that friendly social people exist who aren’t always predatory. He was an example that literacy does not mean that a good old-fashioned interaction cannot be an enriching experience. He showed me that life simply cannot exist without hope.
I thank him.
After a long, long gap I am joining in Linda’s Stream of Consciousness Saturday! I am so happy that I am coming back with an opportunity to share my encounter with this commendable man. The prompt we have is “naught/knot/not” – I really ran away with this one!