Saturday, 6 October 2012


The Rickshaw Rides

Rickshaw must really occupy a very cozy place in the memoirs of one's life if not one born with a silver spoon in one's mouth. Though it would be grossly unfair labeling it as 'Garib Rath' or 'Garibon ki Sawari'. I bet even Queen Victoria would have taken fancy for this ageless sawari and a drive in it for its leisurely royal ride.
It has been ages having a rickshaw ride through the town. Sometimes I am forced to reflect on the side-effects of car- driving. It was then I had to bid farewell to rickshaw. With wistful and envious eyes I watch little school going children with their dangling feet, huddled together in the rickshaw seat enjoying the carefree ride to the learning gate. I desperately remember that little boy in Rabindra Nath Tagore's poem 'Vocation' and want to add there a few wishes of my own- "I wish I were a rickshaw-puller...riding through the curvy lanes of the town../There is nothing to hurry him on..."
Such scenes are now becoming a thing of past as auto rickshaws have replaced the rickshaw like small fish eaten away by big ones. At times I want to curse the inventor of auto rickshaws like Antony had  cursed the conspirators and assassins of Julius Caesar-"O mighty Rickshaw of 'Naya Daur'!Dost thou so low?...Are all thy rides, triumphs, spoils,/ Shrunk to this little measure....That I love thee, rickshaw,'tis true.....Woe to the hand that made auto rickshaws! Over thy neglect now do I prophesy- .....A curse shall light upon the limb of aoutmobiles...."
"Jane kahan gaye wo din.....My two brothers and I used to go to school by rickshaw at Digwadih in Dhanbad. I still have a vivid memory of the rickshaw puller 'Khoka' in ganji, gamchi and half folded lungi who started ringing 'trin-trin-trin' right from the gate and all the way through the driveway to the porch. We never spared him if ever he was late...greeted him with this chorus-"Khoka ne khaya tha kal chokha...tabhi aaj hamen diya isne dhokha."And, he kept on pulling the rickshaw nonchalantly occasionally making a remark here or there on our gibberish talks and giggles.
Once, I had a nasty fall from the seat when all of a sudden he had to apply brakes in order to save a hen... How ungracious he seemed to me then...I had fell down with a thud and landed on all fours...had cuts and bruises on knees and hands,...felt so peevish but even the little cry seemed to have betrayed  my lips then like that false friend who comes to you only when the problem has been sorted out..My tears, like true friends had stayed in my eyes and remained there till I reached home and amid sobs narrated the tale of Khoka's careless driving(skilfully leaving that part of rescue in which Khoka had picked me up like a ragged doll and firmly placed me on my seat) to my mother who, to my dismay, said nothing to khoka and instead asked me to sit carefully holding the side handles tightly which to this very day I remember whenever I have a chance to have a rickshaw ride...But, to that little girl, Khoka had become unforgivable and untrustworthy.

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