The day before yesterday, I had to stay back at office until about 7 PM. Now thats very late for me. I leave office by 5 PM, to beat the traffic and have a relatively comfortable commute. My organization allows flexible work timings; which means they dont have a fixed time or attendance; so leaving by 5 works for me. I anyway get back home and login from home and oversee office stuffs - conference calls to attend with folks across the globe or continuing to finish my assignments.
Yeah, so getting back to my late exit from office. It was raining and as usual; the auto drivers were throwing tantrums - demanding double fares. I was at their mercy; desperately trying to hire an auto when one just screeched right in front of me. I mentioned my destination when I saw a passenger already. But the driver agreed to my destination and quoted double. I rejected and firmly said "The meter charge would be so much". He instantly said "Alright, 20 Rs more on that".
It was much better than either waiting indefinitely for an auto or to be hiring an auto which demands double, anyway this guy should be taking a detour to drop me. But I was not sure; he already had another passenger; I dont want to be shown the other parts of Bangalore before being dropped and yet pay the desired amount. I wanted to ask if that passenger was willing to share the fare with me, but I am not comfortable with such arrangements ever so I kept quiet. I asked which route he will be taking and he said he would take whatever route I directed him. So that was fine, I hopped in; the passenger was a girl. Him and her seemed to be familiar with each other and they chattered non stop.
Hardly 1 km; he halted and I heard him ask that girl "What do you want to eat?" He asked me if I would like to eat/drink something. I asked if it will take time? All I want to do was get home and relax. He said it would take just a couple of minutes. I was about to alight when the girl said that they just want to drink some water to break their fast - they were excited to be having Ifthiar while commuting :)
Yup, they were Muslims; later I learnt he was her brother-in-law. But what struck me was their hospitality. He brought me a glass of thick mango milkshake. I dismissed him saying that I just had my tea. Didnt want that poor fellow to spend for me. But what he said next completely bowled me over. In broken English he said "Happy madam, Ramzan....Happy..Ramzan".
There is this total stranger whom minutes ago; dismissed rudely saying I wont be giving a penny beyond the meter charge. He totally forgot about my behavior then and was offering me juice to celebrate the spirit of sharing, joy and brotherhood of Ramzan. Thats the true spirit isnt it? He was not as educated as me; but his behavior floored me down. The next moment I was ashamed of my rude behavior with him.
I started interacting with the girl; wanted to seize every chance to justify my rude behavior and shoo away my guilt. She seemed to agree on the attitude of the auto drivers. She talked about her education, job, asked me for suggestions as to how to go about her career. But the guilt would not leave me
As I parted; I gave him extra money than what I promised; the proud and foolish me who tried to compensate his act of benevolence by money and thereby trying to wipe my dirty hands off the guilt. I did not honestly want him to lost that 20 or 30 odd Rs he spent for my juice. He tried to give back that extra money saying that I was paying him more than what I quoted. He won again - I would have forgotten the episode had he silently pocketed that extra money and gone his way.
No amount of money can compensate such deeds. What to call this act? Humanity? His selfishness - to share during Ramzan as his Allah said? Or was that how he was? I am clueless. But henceforth, I will remember him forever and his actions throughout my lifetime.