Not really achieving much, I ended up roaming around trying to decide what to do. I found myself at a bus stop. I enquired about bus numbers and their respective routes. As I stood there, waiting for a bus, I experienced a 'luck-by-chance' moment.
“Auto!” I yelled in optimism. As the auto halted, I eagerly asked, “Bhaiya, Nahar?” Turning on the for-hire meter, Sanaullah, the auto driver, nodded. Thanking my lucky stars, I sat in the auto.
Riding smoothly, he said, “In 7 years of my job, I’ve never found this patch clear off traffic at this time.”
“It’s a lucky day!” I expressed.
“For you, not for me,” he mumbled.
Not wanting to say something that would upset the auto driver, I decided to remain silent. I didn't want an abrupt end to my lucky streak.
I needn't have worried, the story would come out presently.
"A few days back, a man hired me to take his son for treatment. He was very sick and when I arrived, I realised that the boy, Gopal, was being taken to a tantrik. Completely ignoring the medical aspect, he believed that his son was possessed. I refrained from interfering, because we are from a different community. But I tried to convince the man that Gopal needed to see a doctor," he complained.
"Yesterday we went to that place again," he added.
“You didn’t object?” I interrupted.
“Arey! Don’t ask,” he said, the distress clear in his voice. “I clearly told him, ‘In an attempt to save money, you will end up losing your son.’ His mind was too clouded to realize the seriousness of the situation. In the critical condition that Gopal was, his father wanted to go to the tantrik today as well. This time I refused to listen to him. I called for an ambulance and made sure Gopal got to the hospital."
The auto was now right in front of my apartment. I gestured with my hand for him to end the ride. But wanting to know more, I remain seated and asked, “So is Gopal better now?”
“Off ho gaya,” he replied.
Unfamiliar with the Mumbai dialect, I confirmed, “He died?”
“Why surprised? This had to happen. He was suffering from jaundice. How many times did I warn his father to see a doctor, answer me? Now see, he lost his only son. Imagine, Gopal got married just two years ago. What mistake did his wife and one-year-old son make to deserve this?” he grumbled.
As I made my way out of his auto, he said, “I dropped you today because I intend to visit Gopal's family. They stay close by.”
The feeling of tiredness had withered away. A ride so riveting, left me with a lot to chew on.