Find Part 1 Here.
Soon the world of memories that I’d built vanished and I was pulled into the reality. My head shot up towards the man sitting beside the driver. “Pull over the cab,” he said with a firm voice at the driver who apparently was enjoying the Hindi melodies a little too much. “I got some work. I need to get off.”
Thinking about the college days I had already started feeling good, but listening to this my spirits rose like a wounded spring. “I will reach on time!”I rejoiced in the thought. Meanwhile, the conversation between the driver and the man continued.
“But what happened, sir?” the driver asked, a tinge of confusion in his voice. Apart from the loss of fare, he must be worried if he had ticked him off in some way. “Was it the loud music?”
“No,” the man replied, his voice was stable now. “nothing. Just stop on the sides.”
As the car pulled over to the left I tried to take stock of my bearings. We hadn’t moved too far from the route to my office. I will be in office before time. A sense of relief filled me in and suddenly everything started feeling good. With a look of satisfaction on my face, I looked at the man as he took out his wallet and took out a note of hundred and handed it to the driver. As the driver fished in his pocket for change, the driver looked up and asked again, “Is everything alright?”
The man’s face which had been bordering on anger now suddenly changed into an expression of resignation. He let out a very deep breath, as if he was tired of his life and now had hung his boots. Then with an extreme effort, he started speaking.
“My mother who was on a ventilator has died. I just got a call from my brother. I was going to the station to go to Mumbai for a day. To pick up a few of my stuff. But now …” He didn’t finish that sentence.
The driver was at a loss what to say. For a second he just looked at him, froze with one hand in his pocket, the other on the steering wheel, while his face pointed towards him. A look of empathy all over his face.
“I’m sorry sir … I don’t know what … Life is cruel …” The driver was finding it hard to form words in his mouth. Sitting in the back, remembering all that I have been feeling all this while, the anxiety about missing the meeting. The resentment against this person. The memories of my past. All of that struck me with a strong force.
The man didn’t say anything and slipped out of the car. It was raining heavily now. He walked a little farther to shelter himself from the rain and took out his mobile to book another cab.
“He won’t find the cab,” a thought flashed across my mind. “In this weather? Who knows how long he might take!”
“End my trip,” I said to the driver. “Why sir?” the driver was confused at my request. Before I got out of the cab, I said “Take the man to his home.”
I stood in the same spot for a long time after the cab had left.
Somehow everything had stopped mattering. The fact that I was getting late for an important meeting, and I was getting soaked to my bones in this rain. Sometimes life hits you hard. Little life incidents might make you appreciate things which tens of books won’t. Such lesson comes not as words, but as true feelings. Pure and clear. Words only tarnish their meaning. I was filled with that feeling in that moment.
I found shelter below an awning, took out my mobile and sent a message to a colleague that I will get late. The Uber Surge was skyrocketing. I booked the cab anyways. Then I went to my address book and started scrolling down for a number. I had to make a call.