It was a hot, humid day after a daylong rain and I was feeling lazy to get ready for college. I struggled really hard and finally managed to make up my mind to step out on the road filled with mud and water due to heavy rains. One of the reasons I was not willing to go being my friend who always accompanied me to college was sick that day and I had to go alone. One can imagine how tiring it is to attend the boring lectures alone for three continuous hours, you really need a friend then.

Anyway, as I had already decided to torture myself, I got dressed in a plain pink denim and a loose black top covering my waist and a white printed scarf, took my bag, plugged in my earphones, hugged my mom goodbye, literally pushed myself outside the house and walked through the apartment campus to take an auto-rickshaw.

After a while, I started losing my patience as every auto-rickshaw coming my way was already taken. After about ten minutes of impatient waiting, a vacant auto finally stopped behind me and I rushed into it. After adjusting myself in the corner seat, I started analysing the other people sitting in the auto.

I saw an old, wrinkled man with a seven-year-old kid sitting on his lap, dressed in a school uniform, carrying a heavy bag on his shoulders and a water bottle around his neck. It immediately took me to the time when my Naanu (grandfather) used to pick me up from school. I started re-living those moments again in my thoughts and realised how badly I miss him even after five years of his physical absence from this world and my life.

I was cherishing those old memories when the auto-rickshaw suddenly stopped, and I came back to my real present self when I was pushed a bit forward due to the sudden braking of the auto. A policeman was standing in front of the auto demanding the autowaala to produce the vehicle’s paper. The autowaala had all the required documents but even then he was forced to cough up a hundred and fifty bucks as fine. I was shocked to see the wickedness of the policeman. How come, for some amount of money he was claiming false charges on the poor man who was working hard day and night just to feed himself and his family? On the other hand I felt pity for the poor driver.

Suddenly an idea crossed my mind. I decided to compensate some amount lost by the autowaala. I was a bit unsure about my decision. Several thoughts rushed through my mind in just seconds and my conscience was firing many questions. Would offering money make him feel bad? Will it hurt the driver’s ego? I got confused, but the feeling of helping an innocent was so great that it suppressed all my questions.

When I offered him the money along with the auto fare, I froze for a moment as he plainly refused to accept it. He returned me the extra money, took the fare, accelerated his auto and went away. I stood there, still for a while with tears in my eyes. I was again attacked by lots of questions when I finally moved and was crossing the road. Are there still some people left with honesty? Are there people in the world whose self-respect is more than money? Are there people really having such high values which distinguish them from the crowd? Are goodness and hard work their first priority over everything? With these thoughts, I wiped my tears, put a fake smile and entered the classroom.

Published by Neda Rahman