September 22, 2015

Sher Ali’s Story

They were very very poor, he said.

His mother used to wash utensils in bade sahab’s house and get the remnant food for her kids. They were 4 in number, Ali being the eldest. They all had to wait for 24 more hours for their next so called meal.

Their clothes were torn and stitched in patches by their mother.

They never went to school.

But their mother taught them well, whatever little she knew, and Ali’s attitude and broad mindedness reflected the way he recited his past to me. He was not sad about his childhood, but pretty composed and neutral while talking about it.

As Ali grew older he wanted to start earning to support his family financially, seldom knowing where to start, as he had no education at all and neither knew what his skills were.

By observing he understood people and their temperaments, he said.

After several struggles (which he didn’t tell me explicitly) he got into driving autos.

But he also said that he never remembered any roads or lanes, chowks or blocks. He just drove, drove like that for the past 17 years. (yes, he did have a license.) He said that he had a huge no. of clientele as he connected with all his clients and felt responsible for them until he safely dropped them to their destination.

This attitude of his literally blew my mind! I had never heard any driver say this!!

He also said that he loved talking and hated being quiet during the rides.

Only since the past 1 year he had started driving cars. He said that once he sets his mind onto something, he would have the fire within him until he was successful. He was driving a Toyota Etios now.

His determination was commendable!

He said that now he was really rich, he could buy a meal, a dress. These were big far-fetched dreams for him back then.

While he was talking to me, I received a message on my mobile, so my attention was there, he observed promptly and apologized for his chatter.

This again put me to awe as I didn’t expect such a courteous etiquette from a driver! I was stunned! He was quiet until I signaled him to continue his talk!!!

Ali continued by speaking about music; he said that he often heard old songs and that he related them with his life and found deeper meaning in it. He also said that they don’t make such good songs anymore.

He then said that he was fluent in Kannada and Hindi, and could manage Tamil and Malayalam. He also expressed his view on the few places he had visited in South India and shared his thoughts on the people there. To my surprise, it seemed to match with my own thoughts!! He spoke about the courteousness, unity, extent of helpfulness and the attitude of the people.

He also shared an embarrassing experience he had faced 6 years ago. He had to take a train to a particular place and instead of the correct train, he boarded the train that was on the other side of the platform as he didn’t know how to read. As time progressed he realized that he was going in the opposite direction, he got down and somehow found his way home. He said that he dreamed of taking a flight to Nagpur once but was scared to make the same mistake again.

This prompted him to ask me all about flight journeys and I with pleasure explained to him in the easiest possible manner whilst giving him a lot of analogies from day to day life about it, for him to easily relate to the process. He also asked me a lot of questions, a lot of relevant and sensible ones.

Could I have been more impressed!!!

My ride was coming to an end.

He finally said that he is married and has 3 children, and his wife left him a year ago. Though he tried a lot to bring her back, it didn’t work out. 

He said that he practically lived in this car, he would sleep when he felt sleepy and he would drive after that, eat whatever he found nearby and that was his life. His brother lived in the same city and often told Ali to come and stay with them. Ali said that he didn’t want to be a burden on him and that his brother was his own but his brothers’ wife and children were strangers after all, having their own life, struggles and activities. He fit nowhere in it.

I felt that his thinking on this whole situation was one of a matured person with great clarity. And there was a lot of truth in what he said.

He said that he often felt that he couldn’t do much for his parents and that his father loved to eat chicken. And now, every time he had chicken his throat chocked thinking about his father and he could never finish his order.

His deep love and attachment to his Late father was very touching.

I reached my destination, he stopped the car and apologized for talking so much and said that he liked talking to me. I told him that he needn’t apologize for anything and that I enjoyed the ride.

And that was all. He was gone and so was I.

But the impact he left on my mind was for quite some time.... 


  1. Well written tale about a commonplace event. Real magic with words. Congrats.

  2. Seeing you evolve as a writer gives me immense pleasure and satisfaction. From past 4 years I have read a variety of divya's post each with a different taste attached to it. But one thing has remain same, I was, I am and I will be your biggest fan.
    In my opinion writing conversation is the most difficult art. The emotions which we potray during a conversation is very difficult to potray on a piece of paper. But you, my friend have done a commendable job. :-)

    1. Vishwas! Thanks a million for all the encouragement you give me! It means a lot! I really appreciate that fact that you read all my posts and take out time to share your wonderful thoughts on the same. Thanks for being a loyal reader, a true friend and my best critic! Cheers buddy!! :)

  3. Read it like it was a short sentence finished so soon......