Unlike other nights, Kanika got late from Kamla Nagar. With three bags in her hands, she was struggling to keep her phone on for another 30 minutes for the night. Tried calling her friend Rachit to drop her home safely at such late hour, but his phone unlike other nights was busy.
“Pick up the damn phone, Rachit.” She murmured to herself, while network lady kept on cribbing to drop a voice message for him or call later.
Dark and foggy in mid-December, Delhi looked a lot like the macabre sight of the cemetery in a jungle. A few people showed, only to return their respective houses as early as possible. Knowing the recent incidents happened in Delhi, only daring parents would allow their Jigar ka tukda to go out. Kanika went to Kamla Nagar directly from her office for shopping for the month.
“Bhaiya, Keshav Puram chaloge?” She asked an auto-driver. You need to have taxi-drivers consent to travel to your destination in Delhi.
“Nahin madam, New Delhi Railway station jaana hai toh chalo.” Sense of humour of drivers is out of the world. So, she walked ahead to look for next. A few auto-rickshaws in a row said no to her. Perhaps, she did not hear that number of “No” in her life before these drivers said to her.
Few men crossed her and of course some looked with eyes full of lust, and some crossed by to ignore those vulture eyes. Panicked, she stood there for a while under the light of McDonalds red-yellow Ronald. It must be her bad luck, Rachit was not picking her call and no auto driver was going towards Rohini to drop on the way.
“Mom, I will there in a few minutes. Don’t worry.” And yes, she could not tell her mother about the situation. She finally decided to walk towards Metro Station to try her luck. Her luck shined after a few steps away from the market. She saw an auto approaching towards her.
“Autooo!!!” She yelled to make sure the driver listened to her. The Driver heard her and moved towards her.
“100 Rupaye” He demanded as he liked it. She raised her eyebrows. But then Beggars are not choosers. She agreed and sat for her destination. Before she had sat, she noted down the number of the auto, and texted to mother and Rachit.
She was unable to think of anything but to reach home safely. The auto, in the almost empty city, sounded like a machine was pumping out the water. Although few vehicles stopped at a red light just to check if there was not any vehicle coming from the other side. Her “out of battery”phone got call from Rachit.
“Where the hell were you? Why the fuck did you not pick my call?” She started yelling. The driver, mid thirties stole a look at her through the rear mirror. She did not catch his eyes managing both Road and Her.
“I am sorry dear. I was on call with Sainsh” he replied in between. “By the way, where are you?”
“Coming from Kamla Nagar in an Auto.” She replied, but calmly this time.
“This is not safe you know. Give me his vehicle number and keep me posted your whereabouts.” he instructed her. She replied angrily again because she already had texted him.
A few left turns and she was a crossroad away from Keshav Puram. The Driver started a little chit chat. Like all other elderly in Delhi instructing girls to stay in houses at night, he said, “You should not be out so late in Delhi. It is not safe in Delhi”
“Hanji, I got late today only, else I reach home by 7:30 in the evening.” She replied. “aage se right” she directed towards her block. He slowed down to stop right in front of her building.
“Thank You, Uncle.” She handed over Rs. 100 to him. While he was keeping the note in his wallet, he drew a British pound and asked her if it was a fake coin. The size of the coin was identical to 5 rupee coin.
She asked him where he had gotten it. He replied that a lady had given him since she did not have 5 rupee coin to pay.
“It’s nearly Rs. 100 worth.” Surprised, he was unsatisfied by it. Perhaps, he must have taken a 5 rupee coin from that lady. They went on their own ways. Kanika texted Rachit that she had reached home safely. But did it really worth to reply Rachit. One who did not care to pick her call at such late hour like that 1 pound coin meant nothing to the auto-driver. Money and People are nothing if you don’t attach “value” to it.