Posted by: miilee | June 23, 2011

The Lift…

“Anyone wants a lift? I’m heading towards town.” She asked as she rolled down her window at the bus stop. It was customary for her to give such lifts; she believed in good karma.
A young guy walked up to her window, slightly unsure if her offer was entirely out of generosity or not. “Er.. “ he began.
She smiled at him. “What college do I drop you to?” She asked with a smile. Instantly, his face cleared. “Actually, I have to go to Wilson College but you could drop me at any spot convenient on your route.”
She nodded and gestured him in.

He settled into the passenger seat, slightly at odds with comfort. She smiled to herself and pulled onto the highway.
“So what course are you on?” She asked.
“I’m a final year B.A. student..”
“Um-hmm… and what is your subject?”
“Yeah.. it is..” he mumbled.
She spared him half a glance. The boy couldn’t be a day older than 20. A slight frame in jeans and a t-shirt. Not the frayed look that young people seemed to love these days but a cleaner, smarter one. Jeans properly held by a belt at the waist, a neat, ironed t-shirt, neat converse shoes, a frame less pair of glasses over brown, vigilant eyes, neatly combed hair. Something gave her the inkling that he was the chess club, reader’s club, sort of guy. The same instinct also told her that the ‘cooler’ kids on the campus put him in the ‘nerd’ category. She gave him another look, inspecting his alert profile. A shapely nose, firm, thin lips, a clever lift to his eyebrows and the hint of a permanent smile on his cheeks. Maybe some of the girls might have a crush on him.

She smiled at the way the writer in her was making up a character sketch on its own.
“So what do you plan to do beyond this?” She asked. She could use some raw material for a possible story forming in her head.
“I want to do my Masters in Social Work from the Tata Institute of Social Sciences.” He told her. There was a subtle gleam that entered his eyes when he said that. It fascinated her to see how his features underwent a subtle change. So this was what made him tick..
“Social work, huh?”
“Yeah.. “ He said, and turned to look at her. “You sound skeptical…”
“Well.. “ She said “I didn’t mean to..” For someone who’s seen 45 years of the world, skepticism was a given appendage to her psyche.
“But you are skeptical.” He stated matter of factly.
“Yes.” She agreed.
“May I know why?”
“You will… in a decade. You’ll find out for yourself why I’m skeptical.”
“That’s encouraging…” he mumbled, the sarcasm pretty audible.
She gave him a long look. She assessed him once more. He sure was the sincere type; the sort of person who’d stick to his task no matter what. Also the sort of person who takes the heaviest blows in life.
“I didn’t mean to discourage you.” She said. “It’s just that once you’ve seen as much of life as I have, you develop a kind of shell when it comes to the topic of social work and altruism etc.”
“Maybe,” he said, noncommittal. “But your case must be different from mine. I won’t develop that shell. I believe that if you care enough for the world, you can do what it takes to save it.” He said, with an aggressive tilt to his chin. He looked the revolutionary that he wanted to be.
“You’re young,” She snorted. “You’re naïve. You’ll learn things that you can’t dream of now. This world is a far cruder place than you think. The more you decide to shoulder the burden, the heavier the burden gets. It’s a thankless pain.” She couldn’t keep the cold out of her words. She pulled her eyes back onto the road to negotiate some sticky bit of traffic and unknown to her, he eyed her with curiosity. “I don’t need thanks to create a better world for my children.” He said in a tone of someone who had repeated these words over and over again as a part of a convincing argument. “And if the burden gets heavier, I’ll strive to make my shoulders stronger to take it.”
“That’s a nice line but it works only in debates. Everyone has a practical limit. And when you see that the pay off is miles away from what you expected, the burden isn’t even worth carrying.” She just couldn’t keep the skeptic cold edge off of her voice.
“Seriously! What’s with the negativity?” He asked. For once, he seemed to be off guard.

She regretted her cold rant. As the car idled at the signal, she pulled out a cigarette and lit it.
“You know that – ”
“Smoking kills?” She cut him, ” Yeah, I do.”
“Then why smoke?” He asked. When no answer came his way, he just turned to look out of the window. “In fact, why does anyone smoke?” It was almost a mumble but she caught it.
“That’s another answer you’ll find for yourself in a decade.” She said.
He didn’t like her attitude much but she could tell he was intrigued. Suddenly, she felt guilty for forcing her damp attitude on him. She turned to him as the car idled at another signal. “I owe you an apology…. I’m raining all over your parade… I’m sorry.”
He was taken aback. “That’s ok… I’m sure you have your reasons….”
“Yeah…” She sighed as the traffic thinned and she gunned the car ahead. “Well, tell me more. What field of social work interests you?” She owed it to him, she told herself.
“Education.” He said, “I believe a good education makes a good citizen and a good citizen makes -”
” – a good society.” She finished for him. “That’s what logic says. So have any plans?”
“Well, pretty sketchy for now. I guess after the MSW, I’ll join Shiksha, you know that NGO working to educate under privileged kids? I recently read about their work over the years. I’d love to be a part of it!”
She looked closely at the kid. He looked sincere. Honest. It took her back in time.
“You’ve researched much about this?” She asked, with a straight face.
“Well, yeah…. They’ve educated hundreds of kids in the urban slums over their five years of operation. They even initiated vocational training for some of the adults. Their latest newsletter says that they plan to get into other issues of social concern too. Domestic abuse, child labor, the works! With the new work, I’m guessing they would do with some more manpower…. ”
In the 45 minutes of the ride, this was the most animated she’d seen him. She smiled to herself but he seemed to be on another trip all together and didn’t seem to register.
“You know,” he was saying, “Niyati Das, the woman who runs Shiksha, they say she works like the devil himself to make sure that the organization runs well. In fact, last year, when they had financial issues, she personally went from office to corporate office, garnering support….”
He turned to look out of the window again. “Strangely, she’s so media shy, there isn’t a single picture of her’s on record! Generally, these people are such media hogs…. But she’s different… Dedicated.”
“Hmmm…” She said, an involuntary smile on her face as she took a turn.
“I’m boring you, am I not?”
“No! Not at all!” She said, “It is refreshing to see a young person so passionate about things!”
“You’re just being nice…” He smiled at her. “But not for long,” he said as he looked at the approaching historic structure. “This is me.”
She pulled over at the gate.
“It was really nice spending time with you…”
“Raghav” he supplied, holding out a hand to her. “The pleasure was mine.”
She shook the proffered hand and reached for her purse as Raghav got off at the kerb.
“Well Raghav, I really hope that you manage to hang on to your attitude…..And in case you still intend to walk down that particular road even after your college, here’s my card….” She handed over her card to him through the open window.” Also, you won’t need an MSW…. You could join me before that if you wish….I really am gonna need all the help I can get….” She said and flashed him a smile as she drove away.

At the kerb, Raghav stood gaping at the card. In a simple bold, font it read:

“Niyati Das, Chaiman, Shiksha Foundation for EnlightenmentÈ.”



  1. I have to admit, this blog is so great!
    inspiring article Keep it up

  2. Amazing post i must say !! I loved the read…
    I love the minute details which you present in your writings !!
    I have been following your blog from the convenience of my reader so rarely commented but this one made me come here and comment 😛 !!


    • REALLY glad you commented! Thanks for dropping by!!

  3. For the first time I could see where this was heading ..
    Really loved the story …
    bless you 🙂

    • Its a relatively predictable story…. But something similar happened with me, so felt like writing…. 🙂

      • that’s interesting…what something similar happened to you?

      • Met a writer of a show that I used to admire… praised the show without realizing that I was talking to the maker.. 🙂

  4. Hey…this peice was really good, inspiring..enjoyed it thoroughly.

    • Glad you liked it!

  5. Hey! Nice story. It kept me guessing till the end about how it would end.

    • Glad you liked it enough to comment… 🙂

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