The Pleasure In Pain
The Pleasure In Pain4 mins 168 4 mins 168
I pedaled hard on the rickshaw; I had even lifted my whole body putting the entire weight on the pedal with my foot. The pedal and the chain creaked and the movement was little. Rakesh, my friend, and accomplice pushed from behind. The rickshaw lurched forward. I had difficulty in controlling the handle. The wide-open field had to be covered before getting on the path, once it was metallic but now only remnants of tar, broken bricks and pebbles were left. By the time I entered this path I had gained enough confidence to ask Rakesh to alight on the passenger’s seat. Once in motion, the rickshaw moved with much ease. The dusty road bore a deserted look. Few pedestrians, covering their mouth and nose with gamcha, few cycles, and even lesser motor vehicles could be seen. I rode majestically towards the railway station. We were invited there with amazing looks, people were wondering as to how come urban dressed guys were riding a rickshaw. The fellow rickshaw pullers glared at us, they didn’t like the competition but kept to themselves looking at the branding of JPD. Almost all the other rickshaws were from the same stable of JPD- the local rickshaw tycoon.
I parked the rickshaw beside the ones standing side by side. At first, I thought the passengers would get into the rickshaws in the first-cum-first basis but that was not the case. Chaos erupted on sighting the first potential passenger. It was an elderly lady. All the pullers pounced on her, some pulling her luggage, some pulling her by her hand while some fighting with each other. The lady foundered in the mayhem. She then shrieked at the top of her voice, all the pullers retreated. While all this was happening I stood near my rickshaw and watched the hurly-burly. Quite surprisingly the lady walked to my rickshaw and got into it even without asking me. “Chalo” she commanded. I mounted on the puller’s seat and looked for Rakesh. He was standing quietly behind; he pushed from behind again and off went my rickshaw with the first commercial passenger.
“College more” she announced. I nodded and kept moving on the straight path. At one crossroad she said, “Don’t you know where college more is; take a left turn from here”. I couldn’t speak as I was already panting. Rakesh had to run behind us to keep pace with us.
On arriving at the destination I had to struggle to control the rickshaw. The lady fished a ten rupee note and handed over to me. I accepted it gracefully and she left. Then she turned back and said “You don’t look like a puller and also don’t look like you belong to this area”
“Madam, we have come from the city for some work and are pulling rickshaw to meet our expenses” Rakesh was quick to answer.
“Well if that is the case then you pick me up daily at 9 AM from here and then again drop me back at 6 PM, I take the train for college” She smiled now. “Today being a half day I returned early but on other days I arrive at 6 PM”.
Rakesh looked at me and smiled. We had a permanent passenger now.
“But I will give not an anna more than ten rupees for each trip” she spoke straightforwardly and left. So we already had the assured passenger who would make up the daily rent of twenty rupees, any work in between would be our earning. We went to a nearby shop and had tea. I took the ten rupee note in my palm and thought how valuable it was, I had earned money by fair means and by hard work after a long time. Even before we could finish our tea another passenger approached us. I kept the money in my shirt pocket and mounted on the puller’s seat. The pain of pulling the rickshaw didn’t feel that bad now. I was soaking at the pleasure of earning money by straight means. I stole a glance at Rakesh, even he had smiles on his face.