The Times They Are a-Changin’..

December 31, 2023by Rajeev Hora0

And Sir, even the Gods do not stand a chance against the steely determination of a Jat….

“Hey, Ankit is a very fine name. In fact, when our elder son was about to be born, this was one of the names that we had shortlisted. You see it was pretty convenient. If the child turned to be a girl, we could easily change it to Ankita.”

That was me striking up a conversation with my morning taxi driver. The last fortnight had been pretty foggy. Sticking to my Missus’s advice, I have been calling a cab service every day. Although missing my daily doze of Ray Charles from my SUV music system, I don’t quite mind the mini luxury. More than that, I love chatting with my taxi drivers. They are a mixed bag and many  of them have a story to tell. Some sad, some pensive and some amazing!

Most of them love to talk and open up if they get the impression that you are making genuine conversation. As for me, they are my window to the real world. Not the world of Café Coffee Days and Pret a Mangers. But a kaleidoscopic world of inadequacies, laments, struggles, fortitude and capacity of the human spirit.

The ‘half an hour drives’ with the grassroots generally leave me grounded and refreshed with gratitude. Today is no different, as I am enjoying my time with Ankit, a very handsome and burly Jat in his late twenties.

“So where about do you live, Ankit?”

“Sir, we are a joint family. We all live together in Haryana on the outskirts of Kapashera. Papa retired from the Army close to 10 years back. And the best thing that he did was to invest all his life savings into making our family house.”

“Who all are there at home?”, I queried.

“My parents, my elder brother, his family and my own.” Beaming with unhidden pride, he added, “I have a one-year old gudiya (daughter). She is my love and joy.” I subtly noticed that he did not say anything about his wife.

I further asked, “How long have you been with this taxi service?”

“Sir, I used to earlier drive official cars for railway officers. But our agency lost the contract this year. So literally all of us were on the road. I joined this company two months back. Working hours are long but they don’t trouble you for the payment. I am grateful to God that I have this job at least. It keeps us out of dire straits.”

I keep the conversation going, “How much have you studied Ankit? Is there anything else you would have liked to do?”

“Sir, I left studies in my class 12. Wanted to stand on my own feet at the earliest. No real guidance at that stage. So, I have been driving cars for the last eight years. I earn about 22-25k a month, but I don’t think I have too many options at the moment.”

“Hmmm…”, I acknowledge in a non-gyan mode.

Clearly more comfortable with me now, Ankit looked back at me and said, “But Sir, if you don’t mind, I want to tell you about my wife.”

 I wondered inwardly, “Why would I mind Ankit?”

“Sir, my wife likes to study. When we got married six years back, she had already done her BSc in Botany.”

“That’s very good to hear, Ankit.”

“Not only that Sir. After she joined me, she expressed a desire to do her BEd. (Bachelor of Education). Although, it made my conservative family members very uncomfortable, l supported her and said, “Why not?”

I admiringly said, “Wow, that’s so wonderful to hear!”

“Sir, that is half the story. Studying full time in a family like ours with all the daily chores is extremely difficult. We even have a buffalo at home. After she finished her BEd from the local college, she secretly asked me, “Can I study further and do my MSc?”. Once again, I said, “Why not?”

 “Sir, all hell broke loose in our family that time. Our society is extremely misogynistic. Way beyond what you can imagine. I only know what I had to listen for that. This was unfamiliar territory for all the close kinfolk. Leave alone a girl, no man in our family had studied up to that level.”

“For the family, it was unnerving in a way, but for me it became a matter of pride. I dug my feet in. Non-negotiable was the word I used, and I threatened to walk out if they did not accede. And Sir, as you know, even the Gods do not stand a chance against the steely determination of a Jat.”

“Balancing her life between home-making, her distance-learning studies and an unplanned pregnancy, she saw her post-graduation through. She has even been offered a guest teacher job in the local school.”

“Amazing Ankit, she has done well but you have been a real rock behind her.”

Smilingly, Ankit said, “The story is still unfinished Sir. We have now brought the application forms for her admission into a PhD program. She is a bit unsure, but I have promised her that I will come back home by 7 PM and take care of Gudiya. That will give her 3-4 hours of study time daily.”

 “It is more or less decided between us Sir. It is just that the family drama will start again. The good part is that every time it is lesser in intensity. My close friend tells me that my father was even bragging about her achievements during a recent hookah session.”

Sir, my wife often tells me lovingly, “I could have probably married someone more qualified or far richer. But I don’t think I would have ever found anyone who respected my choices like the way you do.”

“But Sir, actually it is the other way around. I think I am very lucky to have her.”

Words come out from my heart, “I think Ankit both of you are blessed to have each other. Stay this way only.” I suddenly realise that I have reached my office.

However, reeling under the spell of such a heart-warming story, I do not want to step out into the cold.

Slowly perhaps, but the times they are indeed a-Changin’!
Horax (Casper)

Postscript WikiTrivia

“The Times They Are a-Changin'” is a song written by Bob Dylan and released as the title track of his 1964 album of the same name. Dylan wrote the song as a deliberate attempt to create an anthem of change for the time, influenced by Irish and Scottish ballads.Ever since its release, the song has been influential to people’s views on society, with critics noting the universal lyrics as contributing to the song’s lasting message of change.

First published at seekmediation.com on 30/12/23

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