I was exhausted after the day’s work and decided to take a rickshaw towards home. The price was decided after a word with the rickshaw puller, who these days have inflated their rates with the falling stock markets, weakening rupee, rising petrol and edible food prices, and above all the new trend, the robberies that some of the parsimonious ones have resorted to. We had just traveled a kilometer that a crossing came wherein he stopped at the red light. While he was crossing with the signal, a speeding scooter came and hit in the the wheel of the rickshaw, its kick(from where the two wheeler gets started), inter wined into the spokes of the wheel two to three times. I got of the rickshaw so did the rickshaw puller and the driver of the motor vehicle fell down. He was not hurt, rather upset over the accident. He and I struggled for 15 minutes to get the kick out of the wheel of the rickshaw. At that time no one would have thought of the time ahead, but three of us worked in unison to separate the two carriers. After it was done, the wheel got damaged completely and the poor guy was in tears. The two wheeler who was at fault tried to start his scooter and run away before he could have been asked for compensation. As the rumbling sound of the vehicle was heard by the rickshaw puller he went and stood in front of the scooter.He roared,”If you can’t give any then Kill Me”.And I was all emotional to hear that.
The guy who tried to avoid an eye contact was asked by the puller to reimburse for the losses. He refused. The slovenly clad poor man asked on him to ride the scooter over him as he would not be able to pay for the loss.
Actually the rickshaw pullers are the BPL of UP and Bihar who come to metros, borrow the rickshaw on rent and have to pay a part of their earnings to the capitalists of today. If anything goes wrong with the rickshaw, the rickshaw puller is solely responsible and has to pay for it. If he is unable to, he loses the rickshaw and has to do work without pay for the owner till he has labored enough to tantamount for the amount spent on repairs. Since the guys have to do hard labor earning 250 bucks a day, and above that feed a family of 6-10 in the days when the purchasing power of the money is going down, and only 3-4 members can survive with that amount eating only one time meal, working without pay is equivalent to starving their family for 15 days in a stroke. And since they are already meek due to unhealthy and noxious eating habits, a situation such as that can even mean death.
As tensions arose, I tried to calm down the guys and requested with folded hands to the driver to at least pay half. But he was adamant and refused to pay a penny. A period of silence prevailed, and the rickshaw puller started again. But this time he tried to run away, warning the rickshaw puller to do anything to take the pelf out of his pockets. A group of young children who were playing by the side had seen everything, came and surrounded the guy, and asked him to pay for humanity. The guy was now surrounded by more and more people. He asserted that when he had’nt done anything wrong, why should he pay for it. Then it clicked me and I tried to recapitulate the whole scene. It was actually he who was speeding up and hit in the rickshaw. After he had tried to vindicate the out of pocket guy, I apprised him of how, it was his mistake, and even if it was’nt his, it would be of no bearing on him to pay the fellow 50-100 bucks. He ignored me and invited more people to join the cause of the rickshaw puller.
I was amazed to see a guy who refused to 30-40 people’s requests until a goon type guy came and took the keys off his scooter. It was then that he realized that he was in great danger with the crowd at the back warning him of serious consequences. He agreed.
But only for 20 bucks, which was a give away. The goon gave the keys to the rickshaw puller and asked him to take that away, so that the scooterist may loose 100 making new ones and the gullible one agreed.
It was then, when he was leaving, I told him that it could serve no one good if he takes the keys. He would have lost 1 hour of fight plus the two wheeler guy would also loose something. Instead, if he agrees to give money, both could losses their losses. He contemplated on my words and came back.
Now a geriatric uncle came and he was able to convince him to pay 50 and get away. Both sides agreed. He gave the keys and got 50.
Afterwards when the scooterist was gone, people realized that the rickshaw puller had to spend 300-400 bucks in repairs and so they started giving 10-20 bucks each. I felt that since I was the one who was in the rickshaw and indirectly involved in the events, I gave him 50 bucks.
He was very happy and thanked me. That was the most soothing experience of my life wherein I felt that I had done a humane act and was so proud of it