autowallah: the beautiful one

Posted: June 18, 2016 in mixed bag, scenes from bangalore, Uncategorized
Tags: , ,
1

image: johnnywitkowski

A few months ago, I got into an auto that was driven by an old man. After 20 minutes or so, he started talking.

“You speak very good Hindi. It is really good. Where are you from?”

“If you don’t mind, what is your religion?”

“I am asking because I’d like you to pray for my daughter whatever your religion is. I respect all religions.”

He went on to tell me that his daughter – her name means Beautiful – had a heart problem and needed surgery immediately. She studies in an elite college and the college administration managed to collect Rs.30000 from students. The college principal, he said, advised him to ask his passengers to help out. He went into a lot of details – about getting blood from the blood bank, the hospital expenses, when the surgery was to take place etc.

He spoke well and struck the right note: hopeful, humble. I remember thinking he’d be great in sales/marketing.

He pulled out a wad of thousand rupee notes and told me about a Tamilian woman, another Christian woman…passengers who took his auto earlier in the morning who were kind enough to help him, and he had asked them to pray for his daughter too.

I didn’t have much cash on me and I am wary of such stories. But there is always the chance that people are speaking the truth. So I gave him the money I had when I got off the auto. He asked me again to pray for his daughter.

*

Last week, I flagged down an auto and it was the same old man. He didn’t recognize me and I didn’t ask him about his daughter.

After 20 minutes or so, he started talking.

“You speak very good Hindi. It is really good. Where are you from?”

“If you don’t mind, what is your religion?”

“I am asking because I’d like you to pray for my daughter whatever your religion is. I respect all religions.”

At first I thought maybe she is still ill because a heart problem cannot disappear overnight. Something told me to wait and listen. It was the same story that I heard nearly a year ago; the same sequence of events with no variations, a well-rehearsed story. And while he is very good at it, he had forgotten he had fooled me once before.

Once we reached my workplace and I stepped down, he pulled out a wad of notes and told me about a Tamilian woman, a Christian woman… Here, the story ended on a different note.

© Anuradha Prasad, 2016

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