Me and A Cab Driver

“ज़रा एक रुपया दीजिएगा दीदी?” said the cab driver, “बोनी है न दीदी।”

I had booked the Ola using Ola Postpaid. So no cash was due. I only had a Rs. 20 note in my purse. I handed it to him.

He started fishing for change and I told him to let it be. I was feeling so enriched by his frank asking, and the way he asked only for that token 1 Rupee, and I felt a deeper understanding for how deeply important Bonee, the first business of the day is – all of this in a nanosecond or less. Under the influence of that nice feeling, I asked him to let the change be. I also felt a tiny sense of adventure – I will be living the day with absolutely no cash in hand.

But he was a man of principles. He gave me the change. He also apologized, though he needn’t have.

“सॉरी दीदी, क्या करें आप ही से बोनी हुआ है…”

“अरे मुझे बहुत अच्छा लगा, आपने अधिकार से माँगा। यह तो मेरा सौभाग्य है कि मुझसे आपका बोनी हुआ,” I said.

As I stepped out of the cab, I said, “Thank you Bhaiya,” a courtesy I have imbibed from being in USA.

“Thank you Didi,” he said, “फिर मिलेंगे।”

“फिर कैसे मिलेंगे?” I laughed and said, “अच्छा ठीक है, भाग्य से मिलेंगे…” and proceeded to cross the road to office.

Did I say भाग्य से मिलेंगे? Wow. It is the kind of phrase I would have cringed at if I had heard it from a typical elder. But it really doesn’t matter, whether we meet again or not. This one encounter is good enough. I am enriched, he is enriched – what more could we or anyone want?

I was walking out of Walmart in Charlotte one day. My eyes met a fellow shopper’s. We smiled at each other. Mutual smiling with strangers had occurred several times before in Charlotte and Iowa, but that encounter, with that lady, I still cherish. Why? I don’t know. Maybe because in that split second that our eyes met, I received that meeting with more awareness and hence it still lives in me.

Now that I have told you about today morning’s encounter, maybe this will also live in me. Once I say something to you, whether it lives in me or not, it always lives. This I know for sure.

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