States­man Driver

Reader's Digest (India) - - Kindness - C.S. Ge­orge, Kochi

A gov­ern­ment of­fi­cial, I had been trans­ferred to Goa from Kochi in Oc­to­ber 1977. Af­ter our be­long­ings had been for­warded in a lorry, I set out for Vasco, Goa, in our Am­bas­sador car with my wife and two sons.

By 3pm, we were some 35 kilo­me­tres from Kar­war, Kar­nataka, where we had to catch a ferry. That’s when I heard a clank from my car’s bon­net. I fig­ured some­thing was wrong with the en­gine, and driv­ing fur­ther may cause the car to seize up. The high­way was se­cluded and there was no habi­ta­tion nearby, only for­est, but I stood there, wait­ing for help. Soon enough, a fam­ily trav­el­ling south­ward halted. When I told the man at the wheel, a doc­tor, what the prob­lem was, he warned us that the area was no­to­ri­ous for thieves. He of­fered to take my wife and sons to Man­ga­lore with him, but I thought that would only make things more dif­fi­cult for us and de­clined. So he drove away.

Af­ter another hour of wait­ing anx­iously, a fully-loaded lorry ap­peared. The driver started my car and lis­tened care­fully. “Some­thing’s wrong with the bear­ings,” he said. “Keep your car in first gear and start mov­ing.”

“But what if it breaks down?” I asked. “We’ll be stuck.”

“Don’t worry. I’ll be right be­hind you, driv­ing very slowly.” “But won’t you get late?” I asked. “Let’s get go­ing,” he in­sisted. Driv­ing slowly and gen­tly, we reached Kar­war in two hours. There, the lorry driver, whose name was Shetty, guided me to a small workshop and over­saw the re­pair work.

I of­fered Mr Shetty some money but he po­litely re­fused to take any­thing. When I asked for his ad­dress, he sim­ply took down my phone num­ber and said he’d get in touch with me. Though he never did so, I’ll never for­get his warm words: “You were from Ker­ala, another state, pass­ing through my state. I only wanted you and your fam­ily to be safe.”

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