A tribute to Auto Rickshaw Drivers
It was a Sunday afternoon in 1977 at New Delhi, where I was enjoying my 5th standard vacation with my parents. We visited Qutub Minar in the morning and in the afternoon my mom expressed her desire to visit her college friend Vatsala staying in Old Delhi.
We hired an auto rickshaw to Old Delhi and fixed the auto fare for going and return. The Sardarji auto driver took us there and we started searching for the address. Having a great sense of responsibility and patience, he stopped at many auto stands, taxi stands, asking many pedestrians the address but none could clearly guide us. After roaming for two hours, finally, we located Vatsala aunt’s house only to hear that she had shifted to Zambia six months back.
With utter disappointment, we returned to the hotel where we stayed and asked for the auto fare. We were taken by surprise when he told the same fare fixed earlier. Since we had roamed for two hours, we compelled him to take some extra fare, but he politely refused. We were astonished to see his honesty, sense of responsibility and commitment in keeping his word. We profoundly thanked him and wished him everything good.
It was another Sunday afternoon in 1996 in my place Ramanagara, located 50 kms away from Bangalore. My parents and my brother were staying in Coimbatore, a city located in 10 hours journey from my place. I was having a relaxed lunch when my brother’s friend called up at around 3.30 p.m. and told me the shocking news that my brother had met with an accident and that he was serious. There were no mobile phones those days, only land-line phones in houses and public calling booths or PCOs.
My husband had gone to Hyderabad and I had no other option but to board a local bus plying from Bangalore to Coimbatore, which halts at my place at 10.20 p.m. My neighbour dropped us (me and my two-year-old daughter) at the bus stop at 10.00 p.m. While they wanted to wait until we boarded the bus, but since their child was crying continuously, I requested them to leave. As it was a Sunday, vehicles were plying scarcely on the road and the bus stop was almost empty.
Two auto rickshaw drivers were standing there with their autos. With prayers in my heart, tears in my eyes, I was holding my sleeping daughter in my hand, when the auto drivers approached me and asked me about my bus details. They stopped one bus also coming from Bangalore but heading towards Tirupur and asked the conductor details about my bus. He confirmed the arrival of the bus stating that it had started late due to some technical snag. It was 11.00 p.m., and the road was completely empty.
Since the bus arrival was confirmed, I asked them to leave but they sternly refused stating that they will leave after seeing me board the bus. It was around 11.30 p.m. when the bus arrived but to my shock, it didn’t stop. The two auto drivers ran behind the bus clapping hands and shouting to stop the bus. The bus stopped finally a few meters away from the bus stop. They carried my things and my daughter to the bus and helped us board the bus. I thanked them and took my seat.
When I alighted in Coimbatore, the next day morning, my brother’s friends received me and revealed that my brother had expired. In the midst of my anguish and cries, those two human Gods flashed in my mind once without whom I would not have seen my brother last.
Over the years, I’ve observed their humanity when most auto rickshaw drivers stop on seeing women with children or with luggage waiting on the road especially late nights and take care to drop them. One of the reasons for continuing my job for 22 years is that auto rickshaw drivers have helped me a lot in reaching my workplace on time. Auto rickshaw drivers have carved a special niche in my heart.
Contributor: Praba N (PhD)
About our Writing Program Student
Dr Praba N is an Associate Professor teaching Electronics & Communication Engineering at the Ghousia College of Engineering, Ramanagara, Karnataka. She is interested in content writing, as it is her long harboured dream to continue her passion of ’Essay writing ‘ which got left in school.