Auto fares have increased, and so has the attitude of those who drive these haloed three-wheelers. The ‘autodom’ – if we may call it so – has a law unto itself! Since I am a regular patron of these vehicles, I can self righteously profess to have seen them all – the good, the bad and the ugly!
Since, bad and ugly have received maximum media coverage, I think I will concentrate on the good Samaritans of this kingdom who form the minority – the drivers who ply children to schools belong to this group. If we choose to overlook the greedy ones who stuff their autos with uniformed brats, the remaining constitute to my theme.
They are heroes who metamorphose into auto man, auto uncle, kaka, mama or thatha and share a wonderful equation with the children they commute. A sense of responsibility, coupled with gestures of concern and generosity, define most of these men who are trusted with the apples of several people’s eyes.
I have been privy to the conversations of indulging parents who have included the auto drivers of their children into their extended families. I have been regaled with instances of these men in various shades of khaki who always checked whether the children had their badges, ties and belts on before they got on to the auto.
They are also the types who ensure that the lunch boxes of their little commuters have been polished off on their way back home.
Some would gift a pen or a bar of chocolate to the child who got a full score in mathematics, and one driver would fasten two balloons on his vehicle whenever it was some child’s birthday and while others would employ theatrics while narrating stories to the kids.
I know of a working couple who pursue their careers without being weighed down by insecurities about their wards because their auto driver not only ferries their wards but also babysits them till one of the parents arrives home.
As for the children, they seem to worship their auto uncle, sometimes much more than their own uncles. These knights who drive the three-wheelers have proven that several traits of humanitarian values can most definitely co-exist with commercial gains in the contemporary urban society sans animosity or acrimony.
That is the story of “the good” in a nutshell. As for the bad and ugly, the space in the middle will not do justice to the subject – I might as well write a theses and earn my doctorate!