It was one of those mornings when I was not in a mood for conversations. As I got into the rickshaw at Malad (my from destination) and responded to the slightly raised eyebrow of the rickshaw driver with a, ‘Lokhandwala’.(to destination). He got ready and moved into a straighter posture – good for him posture is very important I think, and I got comfortable and slid back into the seat for a peaceful time.
Rickshaw rides often trigger my creative brain. My, ‘in the shower’- equivalent. But Alas!! Whatever was going to appear in my head would have to wait. Because my driver suddenly felt like I needed company, and took it upon himself to offer that.
Madam ji, he started – I know this tone that is not begging for conversations but is assertive in the most innocent ways where you cannot be rude – You said you want to go to lokhandwala..?
Yes I said.. you sure? – Yes, I stated with a little more underline to the tone in case he thought I was unsure.
He turned, slightly and said, much like Dhanno in Sholay or was it Basanti ?? ..I am always confused. Ah my creative brain is not dead. Yet!! I think. But.. back to my driver. “……My 108-year-old grandfather, who is still alive said it”.
In my Sholay relapse.. I had not heard what his108 yrs old grandfather said. I had a FOMO moment (Fear of Missing out) – A little sheepishly I asked him to repeat feigning disbelief. (Ok. I am embarrassed a little).
He happily repeated. Now see madam, I asked you where you wanted to go, you said Lokhandwala (I was about to interrupt in exasperation – thinking of …Basanti), but he quickly continued. Now, look at this.. Since you knew where you had to go you could sit back relaxed in the seat and Listen to my story. But if if you did not know where you had to go. You would be sitting at the edge and constantly looking out of the rickshaw and your mind would be anxious and you would not be able to listen to what I was saying… so you see madam it’s really important to know where you are going in order to be present.
To be Present one needs to know the destination
My mind had now gone quiet..there was a silence which drowned the cacophony of the busy Mumbai street. I was now alert and on the edge of my seat ..(I knew where I wanted to go..but I did not know where this conversation would take me..) – wanting to hear more.. my curiosity and intuition have gotten the better of me -thank god.
What is your name (lame but at least I was demonstrating interest), Ramu he said after a brief pause, with so much dignity that it might as well have been Bahubali.. I mouthed the name Ramu.. making a a mental note of, never to have name stereo types henceforth. Ramu. Ramu in most movies is the servant.. This Ramu did not at all seem like that…
ode to Shakespeare. What’s in a name.. Ooops!! I am drifting again..
Back to Ramu…
Ramu shared, his life story( I did not ask) – he lived with his wife and two sons, dad and granddad. And that he was very happy..
‘Do you know why? Madam? “, he asked a rhetorical… I pause – not that I had the answer anyway ..
‘Because, … and then his voice took the tonality of a sermon, and he said something that made my head do some gymnastics. I pride myself in having a pretty agile mind, but even for me it took a few seconds,
“Madam ji, he who is sad because of his own sadness is a happy man”. What do you mean, I asked – after 2 repeats of the sentence in my head (I needn’t have he was going to tell me anyway), I will now give you an example.
Ramu: My wife is very happy with what we have and what she has. But when our neighbour gets something new, she suddenly becomes unhappy with what we have. How come? I asked myself – Then I came to know, she Is not sad about her sadness; she is sad about others happiness. Therefore, if one can truly be sad just for his own sadness – is not in any comparison with the other and so, he is happy even if he is sad – mental gymnastics.
“He who is Sad because of his own sadness is happy”
I looked up after a while. I could hear the traffic once again. For once I was hoping my destination didn’t come as quickly as I have often wished it to. Ramu was not done. He shared with me how he never worries about money or prays to god for anything.
I wait.. knowing the pattern now…
Life situation..questions(mostly rhetorical) …sermon….me pondering in silence .
Back to Ramu..and the present.
Ramu: Now look madam!!.. when I was 3 months old my mother (may god bless her soul), used to take care of me like all mothers do.. quick glance at me and a smile. At 3 months the baby cannot talk, cannot ask for what he wants but still the mother knows what his needs are and she provides.
In the same way (sermon voice) –there is a BIG Mother, God – who we are all children of,.. knows what we need and when and how much we need it. So like the mother, if he anyway will take care why should I ask?? He knows what I need more than I do. So I don’t pray.. I just go on doing my job. Take people to where they want to go…
deep breath time –
Just keep on doing my job- Take people where they want to go.
Wow! that made sense I think. Thinking of all the times I have prayed for something, not gotten it and a little later got something much better. God does know me better than I do.
Mental note. Do not stress when you don’t get what you want.
I was almost there. Ramu looks at me and says, I am sorry if I have bored you by talking so much.. and I reassure him that this has been a very insightful ride in a long time. I thank him, pay (curb my urge to give him more money – something tells me he may not like it – after all wisdom cannot be bought – and I am not his mother) and get off.
Ramu smiles and goes off… lost in the hundreds of other rickshawalas, readying to take another person to where he/she wants to go.
I stand there on the super busy lokhandwala street thinking what a gift this was.. how many such Ramus drive people from one place to another, and how many sermons and life lesson they may be holding.
In the crazy traffic I could so easily lose these precious conversations, being on the phone or annoyed at the honking…or complaining…
I feel grateful for this unexpected Gift.
I finally had the energy to move from that spot – I could not shake off the feeling that I had travelled with an angel.
This will certainly be a ride to remember.