It was a Sunday night and I was at the bus stop, waiting for a bus to my work place.
While no buses came, a lorry stopped by. The driver, who looked to be in his forties, leaned up from seat and asked for the route to Cochin. The guys who stood next to me gave him directions, but he was still in a dilemma, it seemed. Since I have to reach my destination on time and proceed to Palakkad for a work related photo-shoot, I soon made up my mind and asked for a lift. He was driving alone, yet, his positive reply didn’t surprise me.
I climbed up with my baggage and took a seat on his bed, better described as the space behind his seat where there was a thin cotton bed accompanied with a scruffy pillow.
In a few conversations that happened then on, I came to know that he is coming from Tirunelveli and was heading to Kalamasserry to fill the tanker.
We stopped at a small hotel by the highway for tea. I accepted his invitation and joined. In a continuing conversation while sipping tea, I came to know that he owns the lorry and always drives alone. When he is sleepy, he’ll shut the vehicle and sleep.
“Ithu vandhu 2010 model.” (this is a 2010 model), he told as we were resuming our seats in his Ashok Leyland.
Ravi was his name.
After filling Ammonium Chloride from Kalamasserry, he will proceed to Hyderabad via Coimbatore and Bangalore. From there, he will get back to his hometown at Salem.
I was curious to know what he earns out of his lone drive spanning over miles. In reply to my question, he answered – “Oru laccham.” (1 lakh). Out of amazement, I shot my question once again, but his answer was still the same. Well, later, in a set of thoughts, I came to the conclusion that, considering his 15 days of drive, fuel charges and undertaking the risk in carrying a chemical, it might be true.
The stereo played peppy Tamil tracks that added to the mood of our journey.
In the whole course of travel and conversations, his life seemed interesting and I decided to go for a ride with him some day. I noted down his number and told him about it. He was so happy and said “Kandippa Sir“.
I offered him a hundred rupee note as I was getting down, but to my surprise, he refused to accept it and asked me to get down soon since the signal was green already.
I bid goodbye hoping to join him for a ride sometime in the future. And when I do it, I’ll do a video for sure.