I and Ma decided to go to chandni chowk and somehow we agreed on taking the public transport. We settled for an auto (I mean bus is like too public!!). It started with a shock. The autowallah agreed on going by the meter. Man! Was the auto community becoming ethical or was it my Ma’s presence. Whatever! We settled in the auto and started for our destination.
It was not long that we got stuck in a traffic jam and it wasn’t something that I had not expected but probably it came as s surprise to my autowallah and what came as a surprise to me was his outburst, “das din reh gaye hain games ko aur dilli ka haal dekhiye madamji!”. I hardly paid attention but this radio was nonstop now. I was forced to shut up Mr. John Lenon and listen to this Mr…
Since now I was to be a part of conversation, I decided to do that whole heartedly. “Aapka naam kya hai bhaiyya ji?” I asked. “Shiv Prasad singh. Agra ka hoon. Yahan apne biwi bachcho ke saath rehta hoon. Kuch bhi apna nahi hai. Sharer kiraye ka, gaadi kiraye ki, makaan kiraye ka. Par khush hoon. Sai Ram ki kripa se do waqt ki roti mil jaati hai.”
“Mehegai ke zammane mein aaj kal toh uski bhi pareshaani hai”, I added.
“Arrey sa’ab, BJP ne pyaaz mehengi kit hi. Woh bhi majboori ke chaltein aur in logon ne uska kya se kya kar diya. Aur in k***** congress waalo ne sab kuch hi mehenga kar diya..par ab koi kuch nahi kahega..barbaad kar diya hai dilli ko. Aji, dilli ab dilli rahi kahan. Yeh toh mili juli sarkaar ho gayi hai. Koi bhi aa jata hai kahin se bhi. Humein shikayat nahi hai. Aao ji, aapka sheher hai..humari bhi roti paani niklegi lekin par isse apna ghar samjho na ji..Kyun theek hai na madamji?”
I looked at my left and right and then said, “bilkul, bhaiyya ji”. I did not want to be branded as a Thackeray supporter by those sitting in the other autos.
Shiv Prasad did not need my permission to speak, it seemed. He continued, “Madam ji, dilli mein apne waale toh bas ab 20% hi reh gaye honge. Sab nikal gaye yahaan se. Jinke business yahaan the who business yahaan chodkar chale gaye noida, gurgaon rehne. Woh bhi kya karein. Dilli rehne laayak nahi rahi. Haan par yeh toh ek vardaan hai yahaan par..dilli mein paisa bahut hai. Bas mehenet karne waala chahiye.”
“Theek kaha aapne. Vaise Agra mein toh apna ghar hoga aapka”, I enquired. I was getting interested in this conversation. Wanted to get an insight into his thoughts. Its rare that people speak so freely about their political thoughts, about their family and that too, to the strangers. I wanted him to continue.
“Tha toh sab. Par jab bhagye mein nahi hota toh kuch nahi milta. Bhaiyon ko laga ki main toh crorepati hoon. Isiliye kuch nahi diya. Mat do. Bhookha toh marunga nahi. Sai Ram ki itni kripa hai. Kama kar khila sakta hoon. Beti 12th mein hai aurbeta 9th mein. Pad likh jayenge, apne kamaane layak ho jayenge toh ji jeevan safal ho jaayega. Ab dekhiye yeh jagah jagah par CWG ke liye lane bana di hai..arey itne traffic mein koi kaise bachaayega aur 2000/- fine.” He was back to government bashing.
We had reached Safdarjung airport flyover. Roads were looking good, pavements were new and the walls had graffiti on them. Shiela Dixit wasn’t fairing all that bad, I thought. “Saara hamaari jeb mein se paisa kaat kaat kar saja rahi hai budhiya”, chipped in Shiv Prasad. It was like a rainbow of thoughts and reactions that I was looking at. This man had energy to speak and speak sense. Ma was giving me weird looks.
We had entered the Prithviraj Road and like always this was spectacularly clean and green. With all the state houses on either side, this road always projected me the picture of Delhi I always wanted to be in.
“Ek kahavat sunata hoon aapko madam ji. Bahut puraani hai. Par bata deti hai ki agar bhagya nahi toh lakshmi nahi. Mehnet karke bhi lakshmi nahi aayegi agar kismet hi phooti hogi.” Obviously, he did not need me approval to continue. I started munching on a chocolate and listened to this ‘kahavat’.
“Ek pandit tha aur uska parivaar tha. Bahut hi dukhi parivaar tha. Panditaayan (Pandit’s wife) ka apne pati se vishwaas uth chukka tha aur pandit ki zindagi uske taano (taunts) se kathti thi. Haanji, toh pandit ne tang aakar khudkushi karne ka faisla liya. Madam ji., woh chal diya marne ke liye. Raaste mein Bhagyalakshmi mil gaye. Ab woh toh antaryaami the. Unhe toh pata tha ki pandit kahaan jar aha hai par pandit ko kahan pata tha ki woh toh swayam devi devta hai. Lakshmi ne pandit se kaha, “kahan ja rahe ho. “Pandit bola, “zindagi khatm karne. Pareshaan ho gaya hoon.” “Arrey arrey ruko. Sab pareshaniyaan door ho jayegi. Yeh lo sone ki eent (brick)”, lakshmi je na kaha aur de di.
“Ab madam ji, un dinon mein toh sone ki eent toh aisa hota tha ki khazaana mil gaya ho.”, Shiv Prasad made me understand as if I did not know. But I didn’t interrupt him. I didn’t want to. Somehow I was mesmerized by the talks of this man.
“haanji”, I said. “Pandit khush ho gaya aur vapis ghar ko chal diya. Ghar jaakar sabko bulaya. Par panditaayan nahi thi. Bachchon se poocha toh bataya ki pados mein gayi hai. Toh pandit ne woh eent ko chulhe ki raakh mein daba di aur chala gaya. Waapis aaya toh panditaayan ko bola, “dekh bhagyawaan kya mila hai.” Ji who gaya eent lane par wahaan toh kuch tha hi nahi. Bacchon se poocha toh pata chala ki raakh ikatha karne waala aaya tha aur who sab kuch le gaya. Pandit toh baith gaya sar pakadke. Fir chal diya marne ko. Lakshmi fir mili, abki baar heera panaa diya. Pandit waapis ghar ko. Raastein mein nadi dekhi toh paani peene chal diya. Potli rakhi side mein. Itne mein ek chidiya aayi aur potli uthakar chal di. Pndit ko laga ki bhaiyya ab toh yahin doob jaata hoon.” Shiv Prasad stopped to catch some breath. This man had some energy!
“Bhagya lakshmi dekh rahe the sab. Bhagya bole lakshmi se, “Is baar mujhe chance do. Aapne do baar try kiya ab mujhe chance do.”. “Aap kya karenge. Main do baar isko dha de chuki ho. Iska kuch nahi hoga”, lakshmi ne kaha.”arrey aap man toh. Give me one chance!” (I was shocked to see devtas corresponding in English!!). “theek hai”, lakshmi ne kaha aur gaayab ho gayi.
Shiv Prasad continued, “Bhagya ne pandit ko roka aur bole “ki yeh lijiye ek rupaiya. Hamaari maankar isme do teen din guzaara kar lijiye.” Pandit ne liya aur ghar ko chal diya. Jaakar rupaiya panditaayan ko diya aur kaha ki bazaar se samaan le aao. Aur who chala gayalakdi kaatne. Jis ped se lakdi kaat raha tha wahaan par se kuch gira. Dekha toh potli thi. Pandit khush ho kar ghar aaya.”
“Accha, main daryagunj ke peechein se le loon. Aisa hai na ki traffic se bach jayenge. Zyaada se zyaada 2 km ka hi raasta badhega par time bach jayega”, shiv Prasad interrupted his story with this question.
I was like okay okay..aap continue kijiye. He continued, “Ghar aaya toh dekha ki raakh padi thi. Pata chal ki who aadmi sab waapis de gaya. Kehkar ki brahmanon ke ghar se lete nahi hai. Toh eent bhi aa gayi ji”. “matlab bhagya saath that oh ek rupaiye se bhi lakshmi aa gayi, madam ji”, he explained to me.
It wasn’t that I had not heard this before. But there was something attractive about this man. He was a good orator, no doubt.
We had reached Lal mandir. Almost our destination. I looked at the meter. 22 kms. 143.50/-.
“theek hai madam ji. Change nahi hai”, he said.
“aap rakhiye”, Ma said.
It was not about money. These 22 kms passed like a click of fingers. It was a delight to talk to him. And yes, every auto wallah in Delhi was not bad!