It is the same drill everyday, or everytime I go outdoors; which is every once in a while because of constant bickering from loved ones- fetch a black-yellow rickshaw, the most amusing thing I ride, satisfying, too.
I have a love-hate relationship with rickshawalas. For instance, the other day when I get on one on my way to college, the rickshawala is a decent looking man until he starts to mess with the side mirrors- adjusting the mirrors until he can view my face, then all of me and my stuff. All this while, I wriggle in my seat, placing the bag from the seat onto my lap, from my lap to my front; everywhere. Legs stiff, then folded, then crossed; wrapping the dupatta tighter around my face and body trying to be shapeless, faceless, identityless! Or the countless times when I want to wipe the smirk off of their faces with a slap, I don’t. The many ‘keep the change’ times to avoid the filthy accidental brush of fingers that make my soul shudder.
Then there are times otherwise. I fetch a rickshaw on my way home. The guy is rigid and awkward. I cannot refuse to get into this one for I might not be able to find another at this hour. A police gypsy stops on our right and he fumbles. It’s odd, he’s sweating more than normal. As the ride proceeds, I talk, so does he. He confides in me how he accidentally ran over 3 people, killing them for he was half asleep. He tells me where he lives, where he has lived before, about his brothers, about those that helped him escape. He seems guilty. I cannot help but smile as his shoulders relax. I peek out from the open sides, wind gushing, I wonder how many have their secrets unleash in this little carefree space. I do too, sometimes. I am myself sometimes, someone else at times; someone I know of, someone from my imagination. I stay quite only filling the tiny gaps between his words to keep it from getting awkward and ask him to take the longer route home.
It’s a love-hate relationship with rickshawalas. But I know, I know that when I go out and see one of these black-yellow rickshaws with two open sides that fill your lungs with air on speedy roads, and hop on gravelled ones, those that make you confide in strangers your darkest, deepest secrets, or ramble with enthusiasm your daily struggle, or a fragment of your imagination made so believable; when I see one of those, I will bend down to see the rickshawala. With a quick evaluation of his face and shirt and so to decide if he’s a creep, a freak, a sadist, a thief, a pervert, or a storyteller, a philosopher, a breadwinner, a counsellor, a dreamer, a gentlemen, or what, I will indeed take the damed rickshaw.