Parked at a corner lay my rickshaw under the light of the street lamp, elegant and still as ever and here I was, smoking up the last of my day’s beedi. As I rubbed my palm over my stubble and wondered when I would be getting my next shave, my eyes caught two figures approaching me with bags full of stuff which I presume must have been their shopping for the day. They appeared not older than 20, must have been college students and before I could make out their faces, one of them called out to me. Not knowing that I’d already had their attention for the past minute they ran up to me, in the fear that I might vanish into thin air. After a word or two about the destination and price, they hopped on to the rickshaw. Looking at my passengers, I realized that one of them was bulkier than the other which meant I’d have to put in that extra effort into those legs of mine. So a rub of the old guthka between my palms and a toss into the mouth and off we were, into the night.
I hadn’t even moved a metre when came the sound of distant thunder as I instinctively tilted my head to the heavens. Following suit, came the element of water splattering over my temple as though I had been blessed by the rain gods. As the drop trickled down over my face, I looked behind at my passengers and they too could feel it. They could feel the coming of chaos, the chaos that made everything stand still. The wind picked up and so did the falling of drops. A common man’s instinctive mood would be to look for cover but somehow, I wasn’t in the mood for it. As if they had read my thoughts, one of the two behind me asked me “Do you mind driving us in the rain?” I just looked back at them with a smile and nodded. Nothing could stop me now from becoming one with the rain. I took out my packet of guthka and handed it to them for safekeeping. They kept it with a bemused look and pulled over the canopy above their heads as the rain pelted down on the three of us. Moving my rickshaw with the strength in my legs, I could hardly make out of what lay in front of me, I just chose to keep myself moving in one direction. I passed by my fellow rickshaw pullers under the shade of trees, buildings, bus stops who looked at me and laughed at my insanity but I chose to care less. I was having the time of my life and my worries and sorrows had been swept away by the rain. Soon the water started dripping on my friends too but they didn’t seem to be bothered, they too were enjoying this frenzy of nature as we took a stroll through the forests of rain.
I looked up at the towering street lights as they illuminated the drops of rain that had now reduced in number. I wondered how we all were also like drops of rain, some being smaller, some being bigger, some faster, some slower but at the end of it all, they are brought down to the same level once they hit the earth. Lost in my thoughts, I didn’t even realize when the rain had stopped and when I had reached the destination. I slowly pressed the brakes and my rickshaw came to a halt. My passengers got down, wet and wild but not as drenched as I was. I was handed the dry and crispy notes for my services, notes that were my income, my food, my water and not to forget my guthka which too was handed to me, dry and warm as ever. As I was about to push my feet back on the pedal and head back, I saw a hand on my shoulder. I looked up and it was the bulky of the two passengers who was staring at me as he said “Thanks for the ride”. I confess, I was taken aback by this untimely gesture but it moved something in me as well. My friends had gone on to their homes and as I pushed my rickshaw on the wet dark streets of the city, I remembered my Late Grandfather here. He used to quote “People with worlds of differences can feel as one under the hand of God” and today I felt the warm hand of God on my wet shoulder.