In the world of cabs and taxis it seems like the auto-rickshaws have been forgotten, but do you know what else is ? Rickshaws. Raman Jagat, a rickshaw puller from Raipur, Chhattisgarh is the father of three boys, a girl and has a beautiful wife. He’s been pulling rickshaw since he was 13. His parents died when he was still a child, and since then he’s being living on his own, making money from all sorts of work he could do until he settled on pulling rickshaw for a living. He says he was satisfied with the income, until auto-rickshaws became popular in the city and took away their business. A lot of strikes took place in the city against the auto-rickshaws but Raman being the kind and sorted man he is, thinks they were pointless.
With his heavily unstable income, he earns around Rs. 200 in a day, sometimes when the days are harsh, he ends up returning home without a single rupee and they end up sleeping without eating anything. He takes some children to school, but during their vacations it’s hard to find work. His wife works as a maid in a few houses, and together they make something in between Rs. 4000-5000, a month. But half of their income goes into the treatment and medications of their elder son, who is paralyzed. They’ve to admit him to expensive private hospitals cause the treatment given at government hospitals doesn’t improves his condition. But he never compromises with the education of other children, one of his sons is in college and the other is in 10th standard.
His children and wife never demand of anything accept 2 meals a day. He never bought his children toys and he feels guilty that he can’t provide his children what they deserve. They only have a small t.v at their home, not even a cell phone to contact relatives in case of emergency.
About his opinion on driving auto-rickshaws for stable income, Raman said he can’t afford to pay loan installments and besides he doesn’t likes the way autowala’s behave, they always fight and don’t respect their passengers. He admits that in his age rickshaw pulling is much difficult, especially during monsoon, sometimes he even has tears in his eyes, but in order to take the passenger to its destination he just thanks god, wipes his tears and continues. He is committed to rickshaw pulling and will be for the rest of his life. He says some people are kind enough for choosing rickshaws over autos, and sometimes they also pay him more than the fare. He only has one message for everyone, ” Kabhi agar samay ho to rickshaw le lena auto k jagah”.
– Shweta Lalwani