In those days autorikshaws were my means of transport. In the busy morning hours usually I had to walk up to the nearby junction and wait for a while to get a vacant one. But that morning the minute I stepped out of the house surprisingly an auto pulled up near me.
Seeing the driver a panorama of emotions might have flashed on my face – surprise, shock, anger, satisfaction. I knew this guy – I had been waiting to see him a second time. My first meeting with him was just the previous day.
* * *
The previous day after the office hours I had an appointment with the dentist. I got my troublesome tooth extracted. But I was unaware that the numbness of the tooth extraction would mute me for some time. Outside the clinic I pondered over the crisis: If I take an auto how shall I communicate with the driver?
After deciding to convey it in writing, I got into an auto. The typical auto driver asked in the local slang, ‘Where to?’’
He seemed quite perplexed to receive a piece of paper as the reply. The show had just begun. The driver instantly came to the conclusion that his present customer was not a normal one. He kept on uttering curses: ‘Everyday something or the other like this comes to me… I wonder where these creatures are from! Why are they all coming to my auto – as if there are no other autos in this city?’ Words choked within me in their struggle to escape from my throat. Disabled and thereby defenceless, I had to put a lid on my tide of feelings for the time being.
The three-wheeler reached the University junction. I poked him with my pen and pointing to the left I indicated my route. Further irritated he resumed his soliloquy of abuses. He was damn sure I was dumb (and deaf too?). So, at the next junction I tried a more polite attention-seeking technique – softly I patted him and gestured ‘left’.
Finally when I reached my destination I asked him non-verbally, “How much?” As I had expected, he charged me a bit extra. They know when and whom to exploit. For the first time in my life I let go a greedy driver with his loot. No arguments, not even a bit of sermon, everything compressed into one long silent gaze at him.
* * *
The next morning the minute I stepped out of the house surprisingly an auto pulled up near me. The very same auto. The very same fellow. God is in the heavens! Out of the thousands of autos in the city He sent me the one I needed and deserved.
It was my turn. After loudly announcing to him “Surya TV office”, I gave vent to all the emotions that I had to withhold the previous day. “Hey man, what did you think of me – a wretched deaf and dumb girl? Do you know why I had to keep quiet… @#*$%**………………………….”
What a relief! I avenged it all. The now ‘dumbfounded’ driver looked thoroughly vanquished and startled to see his yesterday’s dumb customer inveighing against him. The knowledge that I was a media person made him all the more humble and he even apologized. I benignly pardoned ‘yesterday’s boss’ and thanked God for the opportunity – the opportunity to enjoy the privileges of a normal human being!