Shail profiles a reticent, young auto driver, Narayan. He is soft-spoken and has good values. Though doing a small job, he has his eyes set of the goals of his life. And he is working hard to attain them. Ordinary people often face their daily hardships but some like Narayan remain focussed. Here’s an interesting account of a young and wise man, in the weekly column, exclusively for Different Truths.
“I don’t even possess a car. I ride in auto-rickshaws because I like to be a part of the masses. I don’t want to single myself out as someone up and above.” ~ Shakuntala Devi, author and ‘human computer’.
All of 25 years, Narayan hailing from Mayavaram, Nagapattinam district of Tamil Nadu, drove me home in his auto rickshaw. After I paid him for the ride, I sat down to talk to him. Guarded in his comments, he was to the point, not too interested in sharing too many details about his life.
Son of a daily wage worker, he is studying in the third year B.Com. He has an elder brother who works in a printing press and a younger sister who is waiting to get married. All live together.
So, what inspired him to start working so early in life when he was studying?
He paused a while before replying.
“My father is uneducated. There was a time when he had enough wealth to run the family comfortably but due to his naive nature and ignorance his relatives usurped all his wealth. I do not want to land up like him ever that is why when my uncle, who runs autos suggested that I drive, I took up the offer. And now, I am supplementing the family income.”
“In fact, my Mama (maternal uncle) has told me never to refuse a savaari (passenger) even if I did not know the place. Charge 10 rupees extra if you want to, not more, he said but always be polite with the customer. It is the customer who is helping you by asking your services. I always remember what my Mama said and follow it in my life.”
But, doesn’t he feel like spending time with friends, going to the movies kind of thing?
“Yes, I do like to do all that. It is not that I am disconnected with society or something. When my friends call me and I am not driving the auto or in college, I go and play cricket with them.”
What is your immediate goal?
“I have to get my younger sister married. She is 24.”
And what about you? When do you plan to get married?
“Only after I get her married and not very soon after that as I don’t want to continue driving the auto rickshaw always.”
Was he thinking that driving the auto rickshaw was shameful, I pondered? Maybe, sensing my thought, he continued, “It is not that I think driving the auto is bad. It is just that I want a stable job, something better. That is why I am preparing for the bank exams. A ‘Madam’ in college is guiding me so I am confident that I will be able to prepare well for the exams and write them successfully.”
To be focussed about one’s goals is wonderful.
Who do you like more, your mother or your father?
“Mother” was the prompt reply. He added with smile, “Since I am the child in between my elder brother and younger sister I always escape getting scolded or reprimanded.”
I asked, “Coming back to friendship, does studying and working leave him with enough time to invest in quality friendship?”
“There are lots of other friends, but only one friend, who I can trust with anything and everything in the world. His name is Saravana. We have been friends from the 8th grade onward.”
Don’t his other friends ever ask him to accompany them on their drinking binges?
Surprised that I asked him that, he said, “My friends know about my nature and don’t even try to tempt me or provoke me.”
Provoke you? Why? Any traits of his which he feels can be dispensed off with?
“I am short tempered by nature. That’s why. I don’t like being asked to do things. If I find that I have made a mistake I like to correct it on my own. My friends know this and try not to create any situation which makes me angry.”
I wonder what else his silent reflective angry demeanour is hiding within. Is it a trauma that he had undergone in his childhood that makes him an angry young man? I don’t ask him those questions for fear of trespassing on his privacy.
Finally, I ask him the question I had been itching to ask. What does he have to say to the teenagers and youth?
“The children now-a- days spend money like water. I never got pocket money but they get money even when they are not earning and that spoils them. I would only like to tell them to follow a few things. Take the advice of parents. They know better. And have a good set of friends as bad company can spoil one’s life forever.”
Wise words from a young auto rickshaw driver!
Pix by Vinod Narayen.
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