I already liked him because he was the only one who stopped and agreed to take me to Prabhadevi. Plus His taxi was a Santro which, lets be honest here, is a tad above our normal Premier Padminis.
You know, Taxiwallahs are the most loquacious of all profession defined classes in Bombay. He just got talking about why Prabhadevi would be his last stop, how he needed to turn in early in order to reach Bandra Terminus at 4:00 am to court the dozens of passenegers who get off the early morning Saurashtra Express, how the early to bed and early to rise principle really saw him through life and how you are the own maker of your destiny …..And then suddenly out of the blue dropped the rubies of his experience taught wisdom.
“Kyunki Madam Ji,” he said, “Health is Wealth and Wealth is Not Health.” In perfectly, grammatically correct English.
Me: Repeat Please
Dubey Ji (Sirname escaped during the long tirade he was giving earlier): “Health is Wealth and Wealth is Not Health.
Haan Madam, Aadmi ke paas takat nahi rahega toh itna rupaiyah ka ka karega?”
Me: Hmmming in agreement.
Dubey Ji: (suddenly feeling the need to purge his soul in front of me) Madam, (still in English, mind you) I am 37 years old, married for twenty and I have no kids.”
Switch to Hindi: My wife cries everyday, has been crying for the past eighteen years….. why did He not bless us with a kid…. We tried everything….. even a test tube baby ( I kid you not He used the words Test Tube Baby in his sentence)
Me Shocked: “Artificial Insemination Kya????”
Dubey Ji: Haan Haan Wahi
(In Hindi) Spent 80000 bucks and still issueless. Have already coughed up four lakhs to cuddle a baby in my arms. After the first failure the Doctor said that you being a driver and a mediocre one at that don’t waste more money on repeated attempts at fertilization and like every sagacious/escapist Doctor he also left our happiness to Gods partiality.
Me: Hmmming in sympathy.
(In Hindi) But you know, Beta my brothers children are my children now. Its for their future that I toil now. My wife, she cries everyday. I tell her why the tears? Your womb had been left motherless but has soul emptied itself of love too? She has gradually reconciled. These days her main agenda is to get them fat with all the food that she makes the whole day.
Me: How many children does your brother have?
Dubey Ji: Six.
Dubey: Yes Ji. Five girls and the youngest one is a baby boy. Bas Abhi toh betiyon ki shaadi ache parivaar mein karani hai, dahej ka paisa jamana ha. (Now the main priority is to get my girls married in good households and save up for the dowry).
Me: Clucking in disapproval. (Fourteen years of convent school, Harriet Beecher Stowe, and Louisa Alcott during adolescence, Maxim Gorky and Arundhati Roy during adulthood and then the Dahej word comes up. What else do you expect except for clucks of disapproval?!)
Me to myself: Chauvinist! Maybe it’s a good thing you don’t have babies if they are all going to end up being sold like cattle….
Dubey Ji: My mother, Madam, tells me that’s its not too late for me, she can get me a good looking, healthy wife from my village (FYI: His village happens to be in Pratapgarh district in UP) who will bear me lots of kids. But I say, no mother. What would happen to the woman who has made a home for me these twenty years? It is her I married and it is with her that I will remain, kids or no kids.
Me: Silently approving.
Dubey Ji: It is true na Madam, shaadi is no joke….. she gets me and I try my best to… we are happy….
Me: Kitni acchi baat boli aapne. Kya naam hai aapki biwi ka?
Dubey Ji: That I don’t know madam. She came to my chawl in Bombay as Tiwary’s daughter and she is now Dubey’s Mrs. I call her Shrimati Ji and she uses an “Ohhh” sound to address me.
I don’t know, whether it happens anywhere else but it happens in India and it happens in Bombay where a non descript Taxi wallah can touch your heart and teach you that Life will never stop teaching.