It’s a quiet ride in the rickshaw this morning, relatively quiet on the way from Juhu to Bandra, my daily routine for a week now. Suddenly, horns blaring all over. A red Mercedes is causing a traffic jam on this one way road, going in the opposite direction. I’m reminded of the words of a rickshaw driver from a few days ago – For the rich people, they can do anything and nothing happens. I make one wrong turn and I’ll have to pay a policeman.
Looking forward, I notice my current driver has agarbattis – incense sticks lit at the front of his rickshaw. And an arm-sized fire extinguisher behind him. I wonder if the one has ever had to meet the other. It’s a very brief ride, not much traffic outside of the traffic jam earlier. As I pay the man, I notice his right hand has two thumbs fused together. I ask him if it’s an inconvenience, and how was it as a child. He says he’s right-handed, it’s not a problem. As a child, he would be upset, but now this is normal.
“Abhi, sab theek hai – everything is fine now,” he says with a smile.
As I take a picture of him, I learn his name is Saroj Nair, from Bihar in eastern India. His next fare arrives before I can learn more.
© 2019 Marlon de Souza. All rights reserved.