Being a mere autorickshaw driver wasn’t what Govind expected from his life. At 43 years of age, he had a loving wife and two adorable kids. He was able to provide them with a decent living, but devoid luxury of any kind. Nevertheless, they were a very close-knit family. His younger child had just joined school, and his older one was in class V.
One morning, Govind was feeling particularly dismayed at how things had turned out when his wife, Neeta came up to him and said, “Can you come home early tonight? There is a puja at our temple and we must attend that.”
“No,” he said shortly. “Why should I waste my time praying to God when he believes in so much inequality?”
Surprised, Neeta said, “Is anything wrong?”
“Of course, something is wrong! Look at us, look at our house. This is not what I had in mind for us,” yelled Govind.
“I don’t know what has gotten into you. I’m attending the puja with the children, and you can come if you want to,” replied Neeta and walked away.
That day, Govind stormed out of his house, and got into his auto. Another meaningless day of deprivation, thought Govind, as he started the engine.
His first customer, that day, were two teen girls. They wanted to go to a mall nearby.
“What do you want to buy today?” asked one friend to the other.
“Does it really matter?” she asked, pulling out a cigarette. “My parents don’t really care about what I do, so I have stopped caring too.”
“Yeah, good thing we have a credit card. Atleast we get some happiness from the things we buy.”
As they paid him for the fare, Govind looked at them. They looked so happy on the outside, with all their rich-looking dresses and shoes, but inside, they were not even close to happy. He started his auto again, to search for a new customer.
His next customer was a man who wanted to go to the new fancy MNC building that opened up a few months back. Govind envied his distinguished suit and expensive mobile phone on which he kept texting. His customer then, received a call.
“Look, Naresh, I told you. If ExCorp wants to play tough, so shall we. Make sure everything is ready for the presentation, we need to complete it by tonight.”
Govind took a right turn, as his customer continued talking on the phone. “I know it’s my wedding anniversary tonight, but my wife will have to understand, work comes first. I cannot help it. You go ahead and set everything up, I’m on my way.”
Govind thought about his last anniversary. They didn’t do much, but Neeta made his favourite dishes and they spent the entire night talking. As he collected the fare, he had a smug smile. You can strut all you want with your fancy clothes and phone, but atleast I spend my anniversary with my wife, he thought to himself. However, he felt bad for the way he yelled at Neeta earlier.
The rest of the day passed on uneventfully. At lunch time, he opened his tiffin box and found a picture drawn by his youngest kid which said “My daddy is the best.” Govind had a tear in his eye, as he smiled to himself.
He was on his way back, when he saw a young boy waving out frantically for a ride. Govind stopped and the boy got on. He wanted to go to the beach. Just as Govind went a little further, he heard a woman’s voice scream, “NO, STOP!” Shocked, Govind stopped the auto. The lady was the boy’s mother.
“Where do you think you are going?” she cried out hysterically.
“I DON’T KNOW, mom. Somewhere far away from you and your drunkard new husband.”
“No, no, please don’t go, Rishab. You know I love you, right?”
The boy laughed. “Oh love? Really, mom? Do you even know how I spend my nights in that big empty house of ours while you are out with your husband?”
“Please, come inside,” said the lady, looking at Govind. “We can talk inside, Rishab, please.”
“I will not enter the house of your husband because he made it very clear that I am unwelcome and that it is his house, so fine, I am going away,” yelled the boy, his eyes welling up.
Govind could see that they were quite well-off. Yet, again, they were so caught-up with their problems. Somehow, the lady calmed the boy enough to take him back.
He checked the time. It was 7.30pm. He made his way back to his home and found Neeta getting ready.
“You came,’ she said. “How are you feeling now?”
“You know,” he said, smiling. “For the first time, life doesn’t seem so bad after all, because when it comes to a choice between want and need, one must always choose the latter.”
Neeta smiled. “And?”
“And, I don’t need anything else in life as long as I have you and the kids,” replied Govind.
“Chasing materialistic pleasures, we have truly lost contact with the simplicity of life.” – Paulo Coelho.