Photocopies of 10th and 12th mark sheet. Check.
Two Photographs. Check.
ID Proof. Check.
Admit card. Check.
“Have you prepared yourself about what you are going to tell them in the interview?” My mother inquired with a sense of urgency.
Yes maa! This is the 100th time you have asked me that and where is my tie?
“I have kept it in your suitcase along with that green trouser and white shirt of yours. And also, find some apples in the left pouch, keep feeding yourself!” Shouting from the kitchen.
Maa! Taxi is here, I’m getting late!
She has this ritual to tie a saffron band around the wrist whenever one leaves for some important work; which she did in a hurry, blessed me, and wished me luck, as I left home for interview in one of the best institute for Journalism; XYZ University, Bangalore.
There was this white colored swift desire waiting for me, I opened the rear gate threw my bags inside, and sat on the front seat next to driver sahib. And there she was shouting from the balcony. “Call me when you reach the airport!”
I gave a nod, waved goodbye!
The very next moment, I remember myself smoking cigarette with driver sahib at some roadside strand on highway! It was a time of pre monsoon shower, spice-jet had informed me about the flight delay, a while ago.
“Sir, would you like to have some tea?” I casually asked driver sahib who was dressed in one of those typical Bollywood style costumes that all the drivers wear, and he rocked it with a Chaplin mustache.
I ordered two cups of tea. He inquired me about where I’m heading to? What do I do? Where I’m from? I figured out he was from Uttar Pradesh due to his accent, and we kept talking for around twenty minutes about the weather, the traffic and some local chit chats. Soon, it was time for us to leave, we still had around 5 Km. ahead of us. Well, initially it was all quite inside the taxi, I was busy face-booking, and he was having a great time with some FM radio’s flash advertisements and of course the item songs. As soon as I turned my cell phone down, he almost put that radio on mute and with some struggle and hesitation, “Bhaiya, thank you.”
To which I replied in seconds,” What for? It’s just a cigg…”
“No! no! Not for cigarette or tea!”
I gave him a real confused look, he continued, “Nobody! Not even a single person ever addressed me as ‘Sir’, it’s for the respect you gave me. You made my day.”
I didn’t realize the gravity at once but soon my mind was cluttered with thoughts like, ‘What am I supposed to say? How am I supposed to react to this?’
“I always wondered how does it feel to be respected? I pick high class people every now and then, some business persons, some officials and to be honest; I envy them. Not because of the money they have or the clothes they wear, but because of the respect they get.” Now at that instant, it would have been a crime to address him as SIR as he would have literally sobbed at that, I continued as , ” Bhaiya, A literate person would not do anything to disrespect you! You should ignore the rest.” What he told me next was food for thought,
“I’m literate but that doesn’t mean that I’m educated.”
I was stunned and moved and inspired! It hit the deepest chords of my soul, I wanted to talk to him, console him with some artificial words but I reached my destination.I made the payment, he thanked me again but this time for the tea and cigarette.
On my small walk from the taxi stand to the airport I didn’t know what I felt like. I called my mom and told her that I was at airport, and she was still insisting me to wear a black trouser instead of rusty green, and to eat every apple that she kept in the left pouch of the bag.
To be continued.