Today- it was one of those lazy mornings when I don’t feel like giving up the coziness of my bed. Getting late out of the bed means arriving late at work which in turn means that I won't get the parking for my car (It’s a free parking so the first come first serve rule applies here). So I had to hunt for an auto.
As my office is on MG Road (one of the busiest roads in the city), the auto guys are generally not very friendly with me. Most of them don't even give me a fair hearing. After having turned down by half a dozen autos, I finally found an auto guy who was kind enough to ferry me to my destination with an agreeable surcharge of twenty rupees over the meter reading.
Even before I could rejoice in the fact that I finally got an auto, I sensed something wrong with the auto guy. He was talking to himself… kind of mumbling. I wondered if this is his way of entertaining himself. I understand that this job can be quite boring. Many a times I have witnessed autowallahs doing a karaoke with the radio or chatting up with the fellow auto drivers at traffic signals. But this behavior was first of sorts.
As the traffic intensified, this guy's conversations with self became louder and were complemented by strange and fierce body movements (actions). Now this was spooky. The first thing that occured to me was "Is this guy mad?” I was scared if this guy is going to bump into someone or something. I toyed with the idea of getting down midway but decided otherwise thinking that doing so might aggravate him. I was praying all the while that I should make it safely to the office. At traffic signals this guy was even more forceful in his actions. At every red light he was bursting into incomprehensible shouting and threw his hands like he was giving directions to someone. Obviously, on every such occasion we became the centerpiece of everyone's attention. While they were curious as to what this guy was up to, in their eyes I could also see sympathy for me. Anybody could guess how embarrassed I was to be sitting in that mad fellow's auto. The journey from home to office was the longest today. Enough of this fear and embarrassment- I wanted to be in the comfort of sanity. Finally I reached my destination. I had already pulled out the money- I wanted this association to end as quickly as possible.
As I was handing over the currency- I don't know why- but I asked him-"Why do you talk to yourself? The passengers will be scared". I was not expecting any meaningful answer but nonetheless wanted to listen to his explanation. He started to talk, contrary to the conspicuous behavior while he was driving; now he was speaking softly. He said "Saab, I had a 19 year old son, I taught him how to drive an auto. Last week while driving an auto, he met with an accident and died on the spot" My mouth had turned dry. He continued "I think, I somehow didn’t train him properly. So I am training him now all over again so that he will never have an accident again”.
I think even he wanted to get rid of me at the earliest; he did not wait for my comment and prepared to move on. "God bless him" I whispered, don't know if he heard that but I did not wish for anyone so honestly before.