Sorry Master, I did not write yesterday because I was really tired and irritated with myself. I had brought home only 250 rupees. What could I have told you when I couldn’t show my face to Ma!
Anyway, yesterday has passed. You know something unusual happened today.
I earned only 500 rupees but there was something else that I brought back- respect from a kind man who hired me to go to
. I think his daughter was admitted there for some reason and I was taking him to her from Ruby Hospital . He looked very worried and was on the phone continuously talking to some doctors. The fair was 124 which he paid and left. But as I was driving back, looking for another passenger, I noticed he had left an envelope on the back seat! Minto Park
With trembling hands, I reached for it and opened it to find bundles of notes. I haven’t seen so much money. Even when I go to Mishra da at the end of the day and he is counting money, I don’t see so much money! It was as if the man wearing the blue-shirt was a Ginnie who had given me the lump sum, as if God himself had directed him to stop my specific WB-02T-0908, amongst the hundred other taxis in the world!
As tears welled in my eyes, and my hands still shivered I noticed that the cars behind me were honking terribly by now because in my bewilderment I had stopped driving. As I drove over to the side, I realized how tough it was to drive! Years of experience and practice failed me at that moment and I just parked clumsily; trying to collect my thoughts and trying to grasp the recent upheaval of events in my life.
As Ma’s image floated in front of my eyes, my thoughts drifted from a self-owned car to blocks of ice-creams that Mahendra sells by the corner of the road, a house and the pictures of jewellery which are on those big boards by the road. I couldn’t get my mind off these things! I know Master you might think I was selfish or maybe mean to think of these things at that moment- when the ‘Ginnie’ man’s money was in my hands. When that Ginnie’s daughter was in the hospital, when that money was meant for her treatment, when that man was worried about losing his money at a point of crisis. But Master, these were also the moments when Ma was at home in an age- old saree, when she was alone because I can’t afford to marry, when I was driving Mishra da’s car, scared each minute that if something happens to the car I will have to pay the fine!
I don’t think this is justification enough Master. But what I did with the money, maybe.
Master, I reversed the car and went back to the hospital, found the man and gave him the money which was his. I cannot tell you how relieved he was. When I saw him from a distance he looked frantic and with his hands on his head, he looked the way Ma did the day Baba died. When I walked up to him the envelope was hidden behind my back, he didn’t recognize me but with tearful eyes he looked at me with a quizzical look. As I handed him the familiar envelope, he jumped with joy! He hugged me tight, Master! The Ginnie man hugged me! But after that, he just took the money and went inside a room. I waited for half an hour but he didn’t come back. I left and came straight home. I came home really early today, because the half an hour outside the hospital really wore me down. I feel so tired. When I came home, I told Ma about the incident and she said she was proud of me. Period. Nothing else. I think she wanted me to bring some of the money home. Maybe not. Maybe she is just tired and growing old. Maybe she trusts her upbringing too much to expect anything else out of me. Maybe…..
I don’t know what Ma feels, Master but I have a confession to make. You know why I reversed the taxi to the hospital? I wanted to see my name in the newspaper. I remember Pratik and Pathak were talking about such a story which happened in Garia, last month. They said his name and photo had come in the newspaper and moreover, he had received 2000 rupees from his Ginnie man. He had got money and had also become famous. Which taxi driver gets that!
When I thought of the pictures of necklaces on the boards, I also recalled his picture in the newspaper and that was the thought which drew my hands to the gear and reverse, I went. Maybe, it’s not in my destiny. Neither fame not fortune. The man didn’t give me money, nor did he take me to the Sir who writes the paper.
Maybe it’s not in my destiny.
Master, you won’t believe what happened today! A young boy stopped me near Park Circus and he wanted to go towards some place called ‘
Highland Park’ (read: ) I don’t know why they call it a park because in the whole stretch of 5 km, I saw no park at all! As I drove past Hiland Park again, my heart ached. Nevertheless, the boy got off at the entrance of some big place which was called ‘Metro.’ The board read something else also which began with C but I don’t remember what it was. I think it is some new metro station. But it is very big and not like any of the other stations. Maybe Mamata didi wants it like that, I think. I drove back and as I was crossing the hospital on my way back I saw my Ginnie again! Master, it was a miracle, how I could spot him in that crowded and busy crossing. He was waiting for a taxi. I stopped in front of him. But this time, I promise, there was nothing else on my mind except that if he wanted to go Ruby Hospital again it meant at least 150 rupees during the office ending hour of the day. I didn’t think he would recognize me. As I asked him where he wanted to go, he screamed with joy on seeing me! This, like his hug, came as a pleasant surprise. He sat swiftly in my car and informed me that ‘her’ operation was successful. I assumed he meant his daughter’s operation, and just smiled. I asked him, as I steered the car, where he wanted to go. He replied instead, “Tumhare paas apni koi photo hai?” I didn’t know what he meant because at the time the newspaper story was far out of my mind. “Ghar pe hogi,” I said confusedly, to which he said “ghar chalo.” I didn’t know whether he meant his house or mine, so I continued to stare at him. Minto Park
And then, my Ginnie Man explained:
“Bhaiya apko yad hai kal apne mere paise wapas diye the?”
“Yes,” I said.
“Apko English ati hai?” he asked with a smile.
“Yes, Sir. I can speak English.”
I don’t know why they think we shouldn’t know the language as if it were their own. But the quizzing went on.
“So, I want you to know that my name is Suraj Karmakar and I write for The Telegraph Times. I want to write about you, in my newspaper. I want people to know that people like you still exist. It was really very kind of you to return that money because otherwise my daughter would have died by now.”
I did not say anything in reply, Master. I drove at a speed of 120, and brought him home to Ma. He asked us a few questions, spoke to Ma and wrote down most of it. He also clicked our photo with his phone. And you know Master, he gave me 3500 rupees. I think it was all the money he had because when I went to drop him to
he pulled everything out of his pocket and gave it to me except some loose change. Three thousand five hundred rupees, Master! I earned more than the Garia taxi walla! Minto Park
I came home and gave the money to Ma, she took half of it and asked me to spend the rest as I would like. I have 1500 rupees! Tomorrow I will buy a phone, maybe a phone which has a camera. Tomorrow, my photo will come in the newspaper. Tomorrow I will drive the taxi with a smile!