‘To travel is to live,’ Rumi said. Travelling is about meeting strangers and finding a connection with different people and places. Blood and flesh can be strangers, but the soul will always be a ‘known’ stranger.
With this thought in mind, I looked for an auto in Delhi to visit the shrine of Hazrat Nizamuddin in order to pay my venerations to the world renowned Sufi saint.
The scorching summers and the chilly winters of the capital are always a problem. The rush, the commotion, the pollution are irksome.
The capital of the country has problems galore, but then again Delhi is dilli for me. To explore Delhi in an auto has its own charm.
The reluctant autowallahs of Delhi are a norm especially near Okhla (therefore bliss comes with pain, I guess).
It was 11 am in the morning, the sun was already scorching. I was aware of the fare from Okhla to Nizamuddin, but I still offered one of the autowallahs a bit more, ‘Chacha, 100 rupiya doonga, chaliye bus aap (Chacha, I’ll give you 100 rupees, let’s go),” I exhorted.
He was weak and fragile, seemed to have aged before his time. The longevity of his hardships was clearly visible on his pale face.
It is always interesting to talk to an autowallah in Delhi, you really get to know the City of the Jinns.
“With the advent of OLA, auto business is seriously getting affected. OLA attempted to invade Mumbai first, but now it’s ruling Delhi’s transport industry. It is very difficult to make both ends meet, let alone having savings,” such were his travesties in life.
I enquired, “Chacha, aur bacche? (Do you have any kids?)”
“I have three sons, they are not married. I worked day and night to get them married, but they kept on fighting over whatever property I possessed,” he added, “Wasting time is their way of life. One should avoid this mentality.”
This last sentence made me think that he probably must be an educated man.
I kept listening to his struggles. He was hopeless, I was helpless.
While we crossed Ashram bridge, he pressed on, “Son, I must have hurt somebody’s heart that is why life is so hard on me. Even my next generation is not successful, I failed as a father.”
He kept his composure, trying hard to keep his tears from flowing out. My heart skipped a beat when I heard this. I thought that there could be very few tragedies more tragic than that of a failed father.
Finally, we arrived at my destination. I gave him Rs 100, he returned Rs 20.
While walking towards shrine I looked back. The autowallah was wiping his tears, I smiled at him and he waved his hand. His face was not as pale as it was half an hour ago, he was smiling.
I found it difficult to fathom the gut-wrenching conversation we just had. As I walked towards the shrine, I wondered why the man returned the balance of Rs 20? Why his face was not pale any more?
I entered the periphery of the shrine and saw a banner on which it said, ‘dusron ke dukhon ko sun ke batiya liya kero’ (lending an ear to others’ travesties with a clean heart and without judgement is a service to mankind). It is a saying by Hazrat Nizamuddin.
I got the answer to my ponderings.