Sunday, August 2, 2009

Short of Change

I've written many stories till now. All of them have been an outcome of my imagination. But, yesterday, my life itself had offered me a unique story. This is a story about how shockingly real, the real world is.

So here it is, a comparatively short-story which is 100% real -

Yesterday, I was on my way to the Nehru Place. Excited and happy, out of many reasons at all. I found an auto-driver who agreed to charge according to the meter was one of those many reasons. The weather had taken a smooth turn and it was more-or-less cloudy which gave my burnt skin a salving respite from Delhi's charring heat. After a short-siesta and a shorter lunch, those fluffy clouds played the role of the dessert.

The auto-driver was exercising his racing skills and it added to the fun since the not-so-warm wind was kissing my bearded-cheeks all throughout. The speedometer was touching the likes of nineties and I was feeling that the auto-driver had some ulterior motives of setting some speed record or testing the agility of the tyres, until my body started experiencing the sudden forces of inertia. Yes, the auto started decelerating. The image of a red-pixellated-disk of the traffic-light managed to cross my spectacles to finally paint my retina. The image was clear-enough to furnish my curious mind with the reason behind that sudden advent of inertia.

The auto decelerated at a decelerating rate and it took some time to come to a full stop. Probably, it was not until the auto-driver was completely convinced that his tyres have passed the agility test, that he stopped. My cheek encountered a sudden disappearance of its lover but soon somebody else took the place and gave it a wet sensation. Soon, the tickly wet sensation catapulted since the flood of sweat made its way downwards through the jungles of my beard.

'Tak-tak.' A knock buzzed my ears.

I looked out of the auto. There was nobody. My eyes roved around and then the gravity pulled it downwards. A lathi(wooden-stick) was approaching my field of view. The lathi proceeded ahead in front of my eyes to bring out its master and all the while, the painfully slow advent of the man-behind-the-lathi did a subtle task of sparking immense curiosity in me.

Moments later
Upon seeing the lathi with its master, I became a bit shocked after not being able to find a hand catching hold of its top-end. There was no hand at all. Instead it was just the arm-pit of his right hand that held that lathi; while the left hand, which was physically alright, was holding a stained plastic mug in hope of getting some alms.

'I don't have any change. Go ahead.' These words came out of my tongue unconsciously. My conscience tried to scold me for lying, but my logical and unkind mind subdued that faint inner-voice.

He looked at my eyes and oscillated his plastic mug in front of my eyes. It contained not more than six to seven rupees.

'Go ahead. You won't get anything here.' I rebuked him. He dragged himself slowly away from me. I could see his rags, each of those shreds contained in itself untold stories about his life. His life - which had no importance for me. Why should it even be important? He was frail and old - someone who would be counting his days to get liberated from this dreadful world.

Just at the moment he crossed the auto-driver, the auto-driver stopped him by holding his left-hand.

'Babaji, take this. Get yourself something to eat.' The auto-driver said handing over two coins of two rupees each to the Master of the lathi. I could see a divine smile on that old-man's face which seemed to be reassuring the auto-driver that his act of kindness would be remembered forever.

I was dumbstruck and embarrassed at the same time. I was feeling poor in front of that speedster. Something seemed weird to me. My engineering mind tried to find a reason. But, it failed miserably. Meanwhile, the red painting on my retina was transformed to green and my long-lost lover was back into action.

'Bhaiya, you embarrassed me! Why did you give money to that beggar? I mean...there are so many beggars in India...if you keep giving alms at every red-signal, how would you sustain yourself?' I asked.

'Saheb, I don't give money to each and every beggar that happen to cross my eyes. This old-man's condition was too worse. Have you ever thought how difficult it would have been to carry ourself if we had just one hand? Plus he was old, under-nourished and hungry. I just could not resist.'

'Half of India is hungry. You can't go and feed each of them.' I said irritably.

'Half of India is hungry. You can't go and feed each of them. But, you can help at least one who is really in need.' He said.

I didn't like his logic. My ego just didn't want to take lessons from an auto-driver. I chose to be quiet. The auto paced back to the nineties and my quietness remained my companion for the next ten minutes.

I reached Nehru Place. Fortunately, no more red lights hindered my cruise with the wind.

'Saheb, it is 57 rupees on the meter. Do you have any change?'

'Yes, I've change,' I said with pride and extended my right hand to hand him the fare, and simultaneously said, 'I am never short of change.'

He smiled and offered his left hand to collect the money. I didn't quite like it, as in India it is customary to give or accept money with the right hand - the righteous hand.

'Bhaiya, atleast extend your right hand.' I said.

He extended his right hand and I poured down a fifty-rupees note with seven lustrous coins which when struck his palms gave a sonorous sound. It drew my attention towards it. The fibre -fabricated single-coloured palm with no lifelines at all and the plastic fingers unable to catch hold of the seven metal disks made a shiver of shock run through my whole body.

I looked up at him. Those eyes showed conviction and there was an unrealistically beautiful smile on his face. In that short moment, his heart touched mine.

He looked into my eyes and said, ''Saheb. I wish that you're never short of change!" and moved back to his auto to set a new speed record once again.

P.S. Thank you for reading this. Hope I made you feel how I felt when it really happened.
P.S. The real stories are much more tragic and emotional. That's why I try to remain in the limit of my imagination.


buzzzzzzzzz... said...

tat was tuchin........n d first flawless post,,,[mayb cuz i read it in a hurry , :P]

Apoorv Jain said...

how come an auto touch 90's..sorry for being technical!
anyway, nice one..tuchin and unbelievable!

Buzz said...

@ Apoorv - I wrote the likes of nineties, you don't look at the speedometer generally but you can feel it if the auto outraces a teenager driving Honda City on the road. Thanks for reading it.

Goddy_Blogs said...

nice1 nd an associating description....

aman said...

I think I did feel what you might have felt at that moment. Nice that you wrote this, somethings should be thought without being logical!!! There are always things in this world which are above all these but do effect lives of some people.

anirudh said...


rulzsphere said...

another nic one harsh.It was a really touching story and it shows that every person can teach us something in our life..