He starts work even before the first rays of sunlight have fallen. Despite having barely slept the night before after the long night's taxi rides, he uncomplaining picks up another customer since each trip bring him one step closer to his daughter's admission fees. His passenger today is a 26-year-old girl who needs to reach the airport in time for her flight. She's running late, just like everyone else seems to be these days. As he drives through the long lanes, the girl gets into a conversation with him. The conversation covers the standard topics: work and politics. Soon the ride comes to an end. The girl thanks the driver and makes her away, while he drives back with another customer in the backseat. In those 60 minutes, they had exchanged information and opinions, but neither knew the other's name.
Most of us have had moments such as these where we create temporary relationships. The chaiwala outside your workplace who will signal for a special tea when he sees you approaching his shop. The sweeper who asks you to pass when she sees you stop, and resumes work after you've crossed. The security guard who helps you kick-start your scooter during cold winter mornings. They may never have told you how hard their personal lives are, but they are always there to help you and society at large. Their kind gestures will always linger in your minds but what if we can do a little more to help their families at home, and better their quality of life?
A regular taxi passenger in Delhi decided to add a little meaning to one such transient relationship. He wanted to help a driver's family and took crowdfunding on Milaap to do so. 47- year- old Surender Kumar was a partner driver with Uber. About four months ago, tragedy struck Surender's family when he passed away behind the wheel due to a cardiac arrest. He is survived by his wife Suman Devi and two school going children. The family has a debt of over Rs. 170,000, incurred from the car loan which Surender took about two years ago. Coming from a small village in Haryana, Surender dreamed of a taxi business. Friends and family remember him as a self-made man who worked hard to keep his family afloat. His family is now uncertain about what the future might hold for them and the only hope is the thought that someone somewhere is trying to help them.
Image Courtesy: Milaap
Living in India, we have all come across people like Surender who have left a lasting impression in our minds within those fleeting moments. But why do we then look down upon them as people doing 'bottom of the barrel' jobs? Why are sweepers, domestic helps, taxi drivers, guards tagged as another breed? The hypocrisy of our urban life has made them believe that their lives are insignificant. They have internalised the hierarchical division and believe they deserve the unequal status in society. Perhaps, it's time we model certain values to respect every worker and every job, as these experiences, however brief, help us grow and teach us to value those around us. They come and go, yet we often remember them fondly only once they're gone.