It’s my first solo leisure trip, I’ve taken many a few solo work trips but never taken a leisure trip, so I was as usual rushing to catch my flight and called for an Uber who arrived a little earlier than intimated and it added to the early afternoon hush.
So I picked up my bag, locked the house and got into the elevator to head down, the Uber arrived and I realised I forgot my sunglasses, now I knew I’d be late, but I asked the Uber driver to tell me how much time till the airport, he started the trip and said, 36 minutes, so I told him, I’ve forgotten something coming back soon. He said no problem, I’ll wait. I came back and told him what I had forgotten he laughed and said, ‘accha hua le aaye, chutti pe zarurat padti.’
We started speaking, he told me about things in general, but everything positively, good things about the city, great experiences.
His name is Mohammad Noor Lataf, he hails from Bihar and has been in Bombay since 1972, he’s been working as a driver ever since and just started driving an Uber a couple of years back.
He got a call while he waited under my house and his brother called him, to ask the name of his great great grand father. The authorities in Bihar asked his brother for a proof of his residence due to NCR. He was shook and I tried to make him feel better. He asked me sir, where will we go, i don’t want to go to a detention camp. I told him don’t worry, it won’t happen but then I asked myself, how do I know this? How do I know that a gentleman who’s almost half a decade older than my father, extremely sweet spoken and someone who asked me to go get my glares because I was going for a holiday, how was I going to assure that we would all live in peace?
Here’s the second part of the conversation, he goes on to ask me, saying, sir the current government wants to get everyone who has no data of their forefathers to be put in detention camps, specifically targeting a certain community. How will the international community react to this? How will the 52 Islamic countries react to this step? Will they then ask for Resident Indians in their country to return to India? When will this stop? How is this a new world and how are we going to go ahead and tell our future generations to live in peace?
I was shocked That someone who is so intelligent, living an honest earning, doesn’t even know how to spell his name, knew that this was a bad move. How do the educated, intelligent and the privileged not see this coming?
On hearing what he had to say, I said ‘Kabhi kabhi lagta hai galat country mein Paida ho Gaye’ read; sometimes I feel like we were born in the wrong country, he sternly corrects me, ‘Nahi sir Aise mar bolo, hamara desh hamesha se mahaan tha aur mahaan hi rahega’, yeh sab to insaan ki galti hai, Sudhar jayegi’, read; Sir, don’t say that our country has always been great and always will be great, these are just human errors, will resolve one day soon.’
My destination had arrived; it was time to say bye to Mr. Noor, but I did ask him if I could put this story out, and he smiled and said, ‘Kyu nahi sir, isme sab sach hai, aur sach Se kya darna?’.
That sentence gave me the voice I needed to put this story out and the statement that made me realise it’s time to take firm, strict sides, and make it count, I’ve chosen my side, hope you all do too. This is no time to be sitting on the fence, it’s time to speak out.