I was in a terrible, terrible mood. I had just stepped out of the office with serious doubts on my career choices, and wanted to go home.
I skipped the usual auto-rickshaw ride that day, and instead hailed a cab from one of the top app-based services in Delhi. A white Tata Indigo rolled in within 10 minutes.
I greeted the driver as I sat in the car, asked him to adjust the A/C temperature and slowly got lost in the passing traffic on the road.
“Bhaiyya, how long do you drive through the day?” I asked Lokesh Singh, the driver, my eyes still glazed to the windowpanes. “Sir, I start at 6 AM and drive till 12 in the night,”came the reply.
I bolted out of my lazy slump and turned towards him. I found his eyes in the rear-view mirror. His eyes were squinted, with creases at the ends that told me he was smiling. I kept looking at him. He sensed my interest and started his story.
“I came to Delhi around 20 years ago. I was 10-year-old, and actually ran away from my home near Faizabad in Uttar Pradesh. You know Faizabad? That’s where I grew up but was never able to find happiness”
“Because my father wanted me to study. He pushed me to go further and study more, but I thought I have learnt enough. Sir, you know, I was beaten black and blue by my father for not getting good grades. I don’t know if somebody got punished more than me, by anyone, anywhere”
“So, till what class have you studied?”
“I managed to reach class 9, but that was it. I started bunking classes and went to watch movies with a friend whose father had a car repair shop. He often picked me up in those cars and off we used to go. In hindsight, I looked forward to those class bunks more for the car rides than the movies. Yes, I loved cars.
I have two brothers – one elder and one younger. The elder brother is based in Chandigarh and I wanted to move to his place from the village. My parents refused to give permission. They wanted me to drown under a set of book and get a government job. You see, because that’s what stability is for them, and I respect that. But, I chose to run away to Delhi. I wanted to drive, and the urge was driving me crazy.
I traveled to Delhi in a general class coach, and I landed in a cold, wintry night. I knew nobody so stayed in a night-shelter near the station. Daily struggles happened. I worked as a cleaner, waiter, newspaper-seller and then got to do something closer to my dreams – I was hired as a private driver. I felt pleasure at the steering wheel.”
“Don’t you get irritated with the traffic in the city? I find it really inconvenient to drive”
“Sir, the fear and stress happened initially. Now I know this city and its roads. I have a sense of relationship with all of it. I know my sense would never cheat me, and even if it does and I hit somebody else’s bumper, I would know I have erred, and would immediately apologize. So, there’s little to put me off road.
So, where was I? Yes, after driving for a few years as a private driver, I earned enough to buy myself a house in this city, a land in my village, and now have two cars in my fleet. The second car was added last month. I am also paying for its EMI, and send some money to parents as well.”
“How much do you save then,” I asked, which was a better than asking how much do you make.
“Enough to survive the city sir. I also have a loving wife who makes the survival easier. Also, it’s not about how much I have in my bank, but how happy I could be with the resources I get. I think have managed well, just driving what drives me. What do you think?”
I smiled and nodded towards the rear-view mirror. Lokesh’s eyes even more squinted now. I started looking forward to the next day at the office.
Dreams are surely realized by people who dare to make it happen, and are themselves #MadeofGreat resilience, and dedication.
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Thank you Tata Motors for helping this man drive his passion. Thank you for making him great. (madeofgreat.tatamotors.com)