Tuesday, September 18, 2007

This Morning

My favorite treadmill in the gym overlooks an interesting segment of the road. To avoid looking at the calorie-time –distance-incline-speed panel, I usually concentrate on the people going by. Early mornings are always a familiar scene, whether you watch it from the treadmill, or from the window of your house sipping tea. Fathers with rumpled hair, sleepy eyes, nightclothes going to drop the kids on their scooters and bikes; reluctant kids hanging on to the seats, or onto the fat tummies of their still young dads who are going to flop on the bed the moment they reach back home. Rickety school buses carrying children to school-amazing how the cars and other personal vehicles come with all kinds of safety measures but the van and bus wallahs have modified the buses with seats to benches and kids sit there prone to falling in any direction should the bus take a turn. I always used to wonder where do all the old vans and discarded buses go. And now I come to know that they are employed for these “not so important” journeys. And kids going in buggies. Buggies - the very logic of which makes me cringe, but which, in any case, are better than the rickshaws manned by skeletal men who have to paddle fat men and women to their destinations. And of course, cars – driven by ill-clad chauffeurs (it being Ludhiana) and dads and moms who go to drop the kids to school.

Today, there was something special that I saw. There were five kids, probably slum kids-probably not - but definitely from lower middle class. They were all in motley dresses, not in the uniforms of public schools. One of the kids, a female, had a single crutch to support herself, and a carry bag in one hand. Other kids were younger, and all carrying school bags or plastic carry bags-obviously going to school on foot. They stood and had a deliberation amongst them over I don’t know what. Then they hailed a rickshaw that was passing by them in the same direction. I do not know what the exchange between them was, but I saw the rickshaw puller shaking his head indicating a negative response. The kids again talked to him, probably pleaded with him. After about 2 minutes of discussion, the older girl indicated to the kids to hop into the rickshaw. They all took their seats immediately on the main seat and the "tupp", and off they went.

From what I gathered with my over-oxygenated brain atop my sweating body, I presume the kids requested him to drop them to their school, and he refused. They then renegotiated and then he relented.

And I am 100 percent certain that the kids had no money between them.

Therefore, I admire the rickshaw puller, who got nothing in monetary terms from this trip, except perhaps some mental satisfaction of having helped a few underprivileged kids.

Would you, or I, or anyone else amongst us do it if we were going past them in a car ??


Anonymous said...

Yes, I would do it. I have a soft heart, and I find pleasure in helping others. I would help out someone in need, if they truly needed it. If you help someone out in need, they will give you "sees (don't know how to correctly translate it into English.)" Even though we think God is not watching us, but sometimes our good deeds help us in our bad times. If you help those around you, the reward far outweighs any monetary incentive. There is a salok by Farida which isn't crossing my mind at the moment, but that envelops the true meaning of being a humble human being. Yes, there is a God, and he does watch over you. Sometimes God provides us means to reach him, and human servitude is one such mean.

Sukhjit Kaur Bajwa, USA

Asha said...

As much as we have to be careful here about getting the strangers to ride with us, I would do it if they are kids!:))
Money and happiness don't go together at all.I have seen slum kids being lot happier and laugh easier than my own kids!!:D

Mansi Desai said...

you have an interesting blog here manpreet! nice topic for a post...money should never become an obsession!

Anyone can enlighten you! said...

Time for another post madam ji:)

Rajindarjit said...

It's sorry state for me that my comments written a day before on this blog could not reach the target,due to the reasons beyond my control.
Your piece 'This Morning' is beautifully woven in a scholarly words. Congrats! Keep it up!!
As regards the Theme, every day we observe dozons of Vans,Mini Buses,Buggies, Rickshaws etc. fully packed of children, going to schools, but have no time to think that how many of them are unsafe for our Dear Wards?
Giving a lift to innocent budding scholars, for internal pleasure is a treasure for some rare God-fearing persons like ‘This Morning’ rickshaw wala. Mostly people today are in the garb of Ranga & Billa to offer lifts for ransome or for other obvious reasons. We must alarm our school going wards not to accept a lift from a stranger. It can result as a dangerous ride.
Carry on with you topics from day to day life.
God bless you!

Sidhusaaheb said...

I'd say your brain would be getting just enough or less than sufficient oxygen...That explains the rapid breathing, as the body tries to suck in sufficient amounts.


Meanwhile, the words Ms. Bajwa seems to be looking for could be 'prayers and blessings', it seems to me. (BTW, the word would be 'asees', I presume, since 'sees' could also be understood as 'head').


maheshinder_singh said...

i would say ,it is a right time for u to start writing short stories. i think my above line sums up ,about ur present post. kudos.

Sarwan said...

Hi Manpreet,
The name of your blog is very touchy and meaningful. The way you tell the story is very impressive; in simple, you have the art to write a story or you have the soul of a writer. Rickshawala, and Bitto stories are amazing. When I was reading these stories, I was feeling as I am present on the spot. It is a good qauality of a writer to dictate a true story in a way that people start paying attention to those ignored issues.
Good work - keep it up,
Sarwan Singh Randhawa

Roop Rai said...

humanity wins :). ok, so you're in ludhiana!! my hometownnnnnn!! i got married there :))