“Learning how to drive has been too easy these days my friend”, he said, “It’s a simple principle. Throw money learn honey. I learnt it not by choice, but by compulsion.” He had a sense of austerity in his voice. I knew i was about to embark on a journey of one of his lifetime experiences.
Though highly disinterested, flaunting my phony curiosity i queried, “So when did you learn driving then.” I was more worried about me bumping the vehicle into the truck ahead.
“Long back,” going into a hazy flashback, he said. “The moment i knew school is not my liking and studies hardly interest me, my family started looking for some work for me. There was no concept of job actually. There was work which would earn money for the supper. Who best to earn it than a lone useless, dumb fellow in the house”
Frisking what i listened for a question to throw back, i asked him “So you were the eldest? The only bread earner in your family?”
With a sudden smirk on his face, he replied ” Actually i am the youngest among the siblings. I have 3 older brothers, all well educated and hold nice jobs. But soon they left the home. Ashamed may be of the illiteracy in the family.” I knew the reason was more a taunt to them than a reason.
“So what did you do then”, I asked him, my eyes glued to the traffic signal ahead approaching faster.
“I didn’t have to do anything actually. Those were the days when the transport business was calling out for unskilled labour as conductors. My father pushed me into one. The work was simple. Whatever the king of the truck, the driver ustaad would say, the conductor would do. Whatever was literally ‘whatever’, including washing vehicle, buying him a beer bottle, bidis, making him a peg, washing the beer glasses. Anything and everything which by social thoughts would sound as child torture.” I hoped he was not talking about sexual one though.
Being a bad listener to one’s saddest and ugliest of the experiences, i did not want to go in the details of the torture. I queried him further “So what about driving then?”
“Aye bha*ve hat na baju” he sweared at a cycle rickshaw ahead. The rickshaw puller pedaled for another 100 meters before siding, least affected by the blasphemous outrage thrown at him. “These bloody idiots wont listen as long as you don’t use below-abdomen swears. Maa Behen pe na jao to palle nahi padta inke. My ustaad always used to tell me, best horn is that which is particularly customized for the one you are blowing at. Use your mouth in cities more than honking”. I decided not to listen to this teaching of his, not for now at least.
“Anyway about the driving, that was another role the conductor has to play when the driver was talli with beer. Suddenly one day he would pass the steering half crawling and say sambhal isko. It started with a prank, when ustaad had a good laugh along with his drunkard gang over my terrified face. I came to know after few months that actually that was the first step of my driving class under ustaad. That was my first experience of driving.”
Damn interested i asked, “So what next. Did he teach or just played rash on you?” Cool and calm, he pointed at a tea corner and said, ” For now i am teaching you. Lets take a break. Lots of rash experiences did follow. The experiences that collated to form my driving sessions. Aaram se baithke sunte hain. Do kadak chai dena chotya. Special.“
I awaited agog to listen to his series of driving sessions with his eccentric ustaad. I knew there were many experiences worth pondering over going to be unbundled soon.
At the other side, Chotya was cleaning the table in front of me. Suddenly he looked to me completely oblivious of the experience he was part of.