Thursday, December 10, 2009


His two year old son was still asleep on the tattered rug that covered the cold ground. His wife sat beside him as he washed his face near a broken water pipeline. Murgan and his family had got used to living on the pavement. The sun was yet to rise, the road was already bustling with joggers and morning walkers. With swift and a steady pace they moved. They talked, they laughed, as Murgan sat and watched them with silence as his companion.

Murgan got up to leave; he looked at his son still asleep on the pavement; he stood still for a second staring at his son. His son's face reminded him every day of the dream he came to the city a year back with. A dream to provide a better life to his family, a dream to power his son with knowledge, a dream to break away from poverty, a dream to become a taxi driver.

He hands his wife a crumpled five rupee note and few coins, and puts away a dull looking ten rupee note along with some shiny coins in his pocket. They take the place in his pocket beside his prized possession, the driver's license; he got done before leaving his village.

He walks towards his work place with the same pace as the people around him. The driving school, where he cleans the cars; the taxi stand where he washes the vehicles, were all waiting for him.

Mathre makes a final inspection of the car to make sure it is ready for the first student of the day. Mathre calls out Murgan to clean the front window once more. Murgan goes to work without a protest. Mathre is a "very good man" Murgan often tells his wife. Mathre a driving instructor at the school, frequently takes Murgan out on drives and teaches him to drive the car around the city.

"Don't tell anyone, about our drives" Mathre cautions Murgan every time.

The fear of getting fired from his job, if the authorities found out, haunts him but never stops him from teaching Murgan to drive.

"I spoke to another taxi owner. He is not coming down from five thousand" Mathre speaks looking at Murgan

"Sir, I have only two thousand eight hundred. I don't know what I will do for the rest of the money. You are my only hope sir, try and get it down sir"

"Some owners are demanding a deposit of eight and ten thousand too. I have told you before, I will try my level best to reduce it, and rest is up to Him"

"Him, no sir, it is up to Her, Lakshmi Devi, when will she look at us?" Murgan replies with a smile.

"I think there is one fellow who can help you. I not very sure, I will not make any promises to you, I will talk to him next week, let’s see"

"Sir, ready to go?" Payal asked with a smile.

She was Mathre's first student of the day. She had walked the couple hundred meters from her swanky apartment to the driving school. She looked at Murgan and gave a short smile; he washed her dad's car along with her neighbor’s cars in the apartment.

"Yes madam, please come the car is ready" Mathre called out Payal.

She climbed into the driver's seat, and started the engine, which let out a loud noise scaring away the dogs sleeping near the car. She slowly drove out the car onto the road; there was a smile on her face and a sparkle in her eyes. She had woken up, bright and eager early in the morning for the past ten days, to fulfill her dream to learn driving, her dream to drive a car to college. Her dad had sent a signal by sending her to driving class she thought.

But he kept saying "Next year", like he had for the past couple of years.

The low hum of the ceiling fan coupled with the sounds of T.V filled up the living room. Uday sat on the floor playing with his badly damaged toy car. He made different types of sounds from his mouth, but immediately stopped when his mother gave me a warning glance. There was a knock on the door and he ran to find his father, Mathre, at the door. He jumped on him shouting

"Papa is back, papa is home"

Exhaustion filled Mathre called out for glass water. His wife had already run into the kitchen to get him one.

"Papa, remote control car" Uday pestered him

"Papa, please red color remote control car, Suraj and Ram have the same one, Papa please" he continued

"Next month" Mathre said keeping down the empty glass

"You have been saying this for the last six months" Uday softly banged his fist on his father's thigh

"How many times should I tell you not to disturb me when I am watching the news. Radha can't you take care of him" he shouted at his wife and Uday

Uday ran into the bedroom with tears in his eyes. The news channel was not tuned to, his mother serial was still playing out loud. He knew if he had stayed in the room it would just anger his dad more.

Uday bent down and reached under the shaking wooden cot. He hid the empty box of the remote control car, the box his friend had lent him for a week. A shiny red car adored the front of the box. He wiped his tears and then wiped the box with his shirt. His friend had let him drive the car once, a small round around two papaya trees. With big bright eyes and a huge smile on his face, he had run back home to tell his dad about the car and a request to buy him one.

Six months had passed, the request had now turned into a dream; a dream to own a shiny red car.

"Next month my dad will buy me the car" he kept telling his friends, he kept telling himself.

A shiny red car came to a screeching halt in front of the driving school, and out walked Payal with a box of sweets. The smile had not faded one bit from the moment her dad had gifted her keys to her new car. A sense of disbelief still surrounded her, her mobile kept buzzing; "Congratulations" kept popping on the screen, bringing more energy to the all ready bright smile.

"Sir. Sweets my new car" she extended the box of sweets to Mathre

"Oh, thanks madam and Congratulations. Remember to drive slow the first thousand kilometers, the engine has to get settled"

"Yes sir, I will keep that in my mind. You are leaving very early today?"

"Yes, it’s my son's birthday today. So I was thinking of taking him to the beach" he smiled

"I came here to thank you for your help and patience in teaching me to drive, and I think I have a small gift for your son" she walked to the back seat of her car

"No please, I have done my job. The sweets are enough"

"It’s for your son sir, you have to accept it" she forced the plastic cover into his hand

Inside the cover was a box with the words "Remote Control" on it. He smiled at her and thanked her, he thought he should say 'No' to the gift and return it back, but deep down in his heart he harbored a dream of giving his son that box one day.

They spoke for few more minutes about the car, he clutched onto the cover tighter and tighter with each passing minute. She was about to leave when she said

"I couldn't find Murgan today morning. Can you please tell him to clean my car along with dad's car from tomorrow."

"I don't think he can do that"


"He is now a taxi driver, madam"


Roshmi Sinha said...

A story with "hope" written all over it. With a positive ending too :)

Once you achieve a dream... no matter however small or insignificant a dream... it may sound to others... you move on to the next. Keep dreaming!

MADHU RAO | (INDImag.COM) said...

Many of our lives are what it is today due to the benevolence of people like Mhatre who listen, understand and help dreams of the likes of Murugan.

An uplifting feel good story :-)

Harsha Chittar said...

@Roshmi: Thank you very much for giving it a read, yes it sure had hope it's foundation
@Madhu: Couldn't agree more with you, thank you for stopping by :)

Smiti said...

Great story! Love the different perspectives and dreams that revolve around cars!

RBC said...

This was a little less clear than the other one. I think the idea is sound but the story is missing some punch in the end. It seems that you're trying ot interweave the dreams of the characters, get inside each one's head and show the difference in the scale and lustre, under which there's the essential sameness of dreaming itself. But this needs to come out a little more clearly at the end.

MADHU RAO | (INDImag.COM) said...

En Sir taking a break ?

Harsha Chittar said...

@Madhu: forced break, computer broke down big time :( but back now :)

grace said...

Loved the story for the subtlety with which you have handled the theme of dream and hope.
Reading this one makes me reflect that perhaps people(me included) are too impatient with their dreams and impose their own sense of time on it. But, as you rightly conveyed here, the beauty of dreaming lies in letting the dreams take their own course.

Sorry for dropping in late this time.