Some six may be seven years back, there was some sort of communal tension in the city. In an undefined way the city was bandh (a politically enforced closure for every economic activity)- as the case usually is.
I had to step out of the house and reach somewhere for some work. I don’t own a vehicle myself and have always commuted by trains and other public transport to get around in the city. Needless to say, the trains and stations were empty. There was a certain sense of tension around.
I couldn’t find an auto rickshaw for quite a while. Finally one guy agreed to ferry me. An old 50 something Muslim fellow; white beard, a cap and a peaced out smile.
I got inside. As he was driving, I noticed he hadn’t turned the meter down; which meant it would not indicate the fare at the end of the journey.
I asked, “Chacha (Uncle), why haven’t you pulled your meter down?”
He said, “Because today the situation isn’t in our favour!”
I didn’t quite get it. He explained.
“If anyone asks, I will say you are a relative. I am carrying you back home!”
I watched on astonished, as the auto ran through the streets of Mumbai, with a person trying to help me and protect me from political goons, in case they arrived.
I paid what I should have at the end of the ride; and I prayed to God that if I can ever get such a sense of semblance and maturity, perhaps courage will follow.