Yesterday after debating with self for a while about traveling in auto rickshaw (other choice being bus) I chose auto rickshaw reasoning that I was tired and needed a cup of home coffee before my next stop. The auto driver got a call as soon as I got in and he seemed to be in such panic that it got the attention of someone like me – who is generally accused of showing utmost indifference to surroundings even when a possible earthquake was in cue. Apparently a little girl, he must have really cared about had some kind of an accident. He kept yelling into the phone “So what to do now”. More than anything it showed that he was completely shaken. That’s the kind of thing we say when we don’t know what to do, and we worry ourselves to death over it.
The auto driver looked so not here, I was worried if he might drive both of us straight to the underside of a giant lorry or bus that came from the other side. The call was over and he turned to me and told me the story without being asked “Its my daughter. She just came back from school an hour back and went to play next door. And shes got her arm cut.” And I said “oh”. I figured out that much but didn’t know it was his daughter. I had a clue what was coming next. “Can you please help me a little?”. And I knew this was financial, cause I heard him say “I have just some 20 with me, now what do we do?”
I kept quiet. I was calculating furiously. I might have some extra 10 or 20 with me, and that was supposed to last my next trip. But what if he was lying? What if he was making this story up with the help of an accomplice on phone to trick me into paying up. But I somehow knew he wasn’t. The panic in his voice was real, the concern in his attitude was that of a really worried Father. I got down. I said “its usually 15, I will give 20?”.
“Madam please can you give at least 30?”
I took 30 and gave him, thinking in mind, ok there goes the money I saved by taking bus in the morning and what I could use to go to my next stop. “Here. And your daughter will be all well, don’t worry”. I was talking like I just made a 1000-dollar contribution. And he said “Ok I will return it Madam”
I felt like a jerk cause I had first asked him “is this really true or are you tricking me” and even after that I just gave a meager 30 when the man probably needed thousands. Well I was no Richie Rich. I told him “No its ok don’t return it.”
To compensate, I walked to my next stop. But I kept feeling like a jerk. I could have at least given him a 50… I wonder how his daughter is doing today. She has got to do well, I hope she is up and jumping like she was, day before yesterday. And I hope she will be really careful next time. I hope all kids will be.