Sunday, December 15, 2013

Right to express

I travel every day by call taxi. I generally use my travel time to catch up with my friends and family, so do not interact with the drivers mostly;  they send a different driver every day and hence there is no rapport built. Moreover in India, women generally do not speak to strangers so drivers also do not attempt to talk to a lone woman passenger. But today is one of those rare days that the driver started conversing with me. I too did not have the will to talk to anyone close to me, so started listening to this person. He just spoke about how he ate his breakfast in a government run restaurant, how he dropped a person in a neighboring state and made considerable money unlike the other days and so on & so forth.

After 15 mins of conversation - rather talking about various disconnected items (the only connection was they were all the driver's experiences with something) , he just stopped and said, "Madam, thank you". I could not understand why he is thanking me! After pausing and leaving me in complete silence for a few minutes, he said, "after 10 days, I talked to someone about something other than my work and you listened intensely. Thank you for that". I did not know how to respond! I just smiled but was curious to know why is he saying so.

Without me prompting further he explained how he is always on the move, how his wife and sons are managing his absence, how his customers are requesting for his services, how he responds to them, how customers distance themselves from him, how his family is keen only on the money he brings in (surprisingly, he did not blame them; instead he said it is natural for anyone who is hard pressed for money!) and how he does not have a chance to talk to anyone on most of the days. When I met him, he was away from his family also for more than a week. So literally, he had not talked to any one about anything other than pickup place, drop place, bill and cash! While he accepted the realities of life with a chuckle, he was longing inside to share with 'someone'! By the time he was done explaining his reasons for thanking me for listening to him, we had reached my house. I got off the cab thanking him for the service, giving money and thinking deeply about this experience.

I am thinking about my cook - who generally has a lot of stories to share. When she is at my kitchen fixing our breakfast and lunch, I am busy doing my yoga, meditation and getting ready to go to work. Generally I do not have the time to talk to her about anything else other than deciding the next day's menu and giving feedback on that day's food (that too only because she asks for the feedback!). I was thinking so far, that I am treating her like myself by giving her the freedom to eat whatever & whenever she feels like and drink coffee/tea/milk any number of times she likes… Now I am thinking, really? Of course in many houses, the maids do not get to choose what do they eat, when do they eat etc.. But it does not mean that I am treating her like how I would like to be treated myself.

Don’t you think all of us need someone who can listen to the stories we have to share and don’t you think that we all have the right to express! Do we really give this to those around us and do we really have it ourselves?

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