• Pallavi Rao

Petrol Khatam Ho Gaya Hai Ji

Day10 of #21days21sarees

A gorgeous Kasavu saree I wear today to calm the nerves. Off-white with that elegant golden border.

As I said, most of my sarees are gifted by family and friends. This one was gifted to me by the young and very handsome Rohit Varghese.

It was a damp morning. Raining and drizzling intermittently. I dared to wear a Kasavu that day to work. It was Onam after all.

Kalikant my chauffeur for some years now, was as gruff this morning too. No good morning. No smile. Nothing.

Each morning I would wonder why I still had him around considering the amount of angst he gave.

Stiff. Rude. Angry. Just a few words to describe this man from Bihar. A ref check on him forewarned me on his reservations against taking orders from a lady boss.

However, what happened over the next few months and years were more than just that. Not picking up the phone was just one of them. There were times when I had to return in an auto or cab from a mall or market because...well...he did not pick my call.

Give him an occasional errand beyond 7 pm, and his face would fall. His speed would up a notch higher. Not informing on days he wanted to take an off was a norm.

It was still drizzling when we reached the DND after a good half hour jam at the ashram crossing. We were driving in the fast lane. The magnificent overcast sky, the pitter patter drops on the windshield...would gave all seemed romantic had the car not slowed down to completely stop.

"Kya hua Kalikant jee?"

"Madam, petrol Khatam ho gaya."

Deep breathe Pallavi deep breath, I told myself. For the next 15 minutes, we prayed not be thrown off the road by a speeding car from behind.

The same cassette began. "Kalikant jee kitni baar kaha hai, petrol ki sui jab...."

We somehow reached office thanks to the 1 liter petrol given by the DND helpline people. I told Kalikant jee to fill up petrol while I was at work.

After the days work and having happily collected all compliments on the Kasavu, we were once again on the DND. A kilometer away from ashram, the car stopped abruptly. "Kya hua Kalikant jee?"

"Madam, petrol Khatam ho gaya."

My eyes popped out in disbelief. He was apparently saving some money by not getting petrol filled from UP because it is a few rupees costlier than in Delhi. My eyes popped out even more. I strode out of the car in a huff, managing my brand new saree on the dirty ashram road looking for an auto.

There was another time when he did not take my call for almost 2.5 hours while I waited in office for him.

Something happened that day. Kalikant jee managed to bring out an emotion of mine that I never thought I possessed. Sheer anger. Bahut gusse wala gussa. Such that...I actually snatched the car keys from him, left him in the office basement and drove out.

Never ever had I been this livid. That I repented the decision the very next minute is another thing. I had not driven the car in 4 years because of a weak vision and I was carrying an expired driving license!!!!

The next day I was to go to greater Noida. A very long distance. Kalikant jee at the wheels.

I was so shaken with my own emotions that I sat to analyze it. I also wanted to change the energies between us. So, I sat behind and gave reiki to him and to myself. To ease things. To make him and now myself calmer.

Why was he the way he was? Angry man. Upset with the world. Rude. I decided to chat with him.

Casually asked him about his childhood. His growing up years.

And that's when it made all sense.

Child labour. Probably molestation too. Worked in a dhaba as a kid. No education. Fended and educated his younger siblings.

One employer confined him in his house. He was not allowed to step out of the house. He would howl and cry. His brothers took 2 years to free him.

His sibblings are well settled. Their kids are CA's and engineers. They do not respect him because "main anpadh hun na."

While he fends for a family of 5 living in a jhuggi cluster with kids studying in the local MCD school.

He continues to be angry. Angry at his brothers. At his illiteracy. Angry because of the way he looks and how he is made fun of.

I still have fights with him. I crib. All want me to sack him.

I haven't. I don't think I will.

Why? Simply because I know he would be sacked the very next day!!😊

Pictures Courtesy- Rian Narvekar

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