Machine thore hai jo button dabaye aur phurr se chal Diya, mehnat lagte hai isme babu.

Munni, reena sabki saadi dekhi hai babu. School se college tak, Ek baar mayakee Bhi le Gaye the Gupta Ji ki bete ko.

Abb to lagta hai pura janam ji liya, Abb wo baat nahi reh gaye duniya me. said Ramu.

I was sipping Chai and Smoking Bidi with Ramu, the Rikshaw puller. He is fifty-five now, still more active than urban code monkeys. He would drop us at our school in our early childhood. Our school was thirty minutes rickshaw ride.

Those days Rickshaw were the rulers of the streets. There were limited motorcycles and, the car was for riches. 

I would end up meeting Ramu on most of my home visits. My house is closer to the bus stop and also an unofficial stand for Rickshawalas. They would sit, talk, laugh and go merry among peers. 

This January, I met Ramu again. Same intoxicating smile with a smeared ash on his forehead. Just the mustache has gone haywire this time. It might be because of COVID. I hardly felt any social distancing or mask-wearing rule followed. 

Atul babu, naya saal ghar pe?

Haan Ramu. 

Is saal bhoj hoga ki nahi? Hum mar zainge. [His way of asking if I am getting married this year.]

Socha Nahi. Bidi doge Ramu?

Subeh subeh kahe?

Chai bhi piyenge. 

We went for a ride to a newly opened park on the other side of the city. We were visiting there for poori, jalebi, and sabji. 

Ramu had a lot of news for me.

  1. His both son and family are back in the village. 
  2. Younger grandson has opened a mobile repair shop. He got the training when he was in Delhi. 
  3.  His cows gave a few calves.
  4. His sons are renovating their house.

 He thanks Corona for uniting the family. Both sons want to stay at home and focus on agriculture. They are not interested in working in Delhi factories. 

I had no updates to share with him and, I could sense his annoyance.

After gulping poori, sabzi, and jalebi, I requested Ramu that I will walk back home by myself. The distance would not suffice for the amount I had eaten. I offered him some money, and like always, he went numb. He cried in happiness and said, “Apne Bachoo se kya paise Lena.” I hugged him and dropped some money in his pocket, and walked away.