I was taking a taxi ride from the station tonight. It’s about 9:30pm. After picking some Indian take away, we resumed our journey. The Taxi driver was from Afghanistan and he said that he had also spent some 3 years in India. He was proud of his 400 Indian movie collections, appreciation of the Indian biriyani which has its roots in the Afghan heritage and the many hard working people there. He called it, “the best time of his life!!”. I asked what happened now to which he said, “I am married now”.
He didn’t love his married life. He said that his wife and kids wanted something new to buy every other day. He was fed up and tired of working 90hrs, driving people around all week so that he can pay the phone bills for the whole family, the loans and the ever growing need of birthday gifts for his children’s friends. As you know, I am contemplating marriage sometime in the future and I asked him whether it was a good idea to get married. He said it was a 50-50 thing. He first enjoyed it 100% and after 5 years it’s come to 50-50 and by the time his kids put him in an aged care home, he will be 100% sure he shouldn’t have gotten married in the first place. He was sad and he nearly ran the red light as his thoughts wandered away. Then somehow or the other, the discussion came to religion. He asked me what I was.
Me : “I am a Hindu…I pray to Krishna”
Taxi Driver: “Oh, K-r-i-s-h-n-a”, as he beautifully said the name with an Arabic twist to the pronunciation. “Krishna” sounded familiar to him yet not very sure. There was curiosity but hesitant to ask like so many…very scared to ask about other’s culture and gods.
Me : Yes. We say Krishna, other say Allah and so on.
Taxi Driver : Yes…all same bro.
Me: Yup…like water…the Aussies call this water, I call it “Paani”…Arabs call it “Moyaa”…but its the same thing…but people fight on this…they say that “Paani” is the right name, others say its “water”…and so on….
Taxi Driver : “Yes, yes…all the time…fighting…creating problems…how can there be 2 Gods….not possible”
Me: “Not possible…but people are saying this all the time..mine is better and greater than yours…there is no education. In schools, they teach chemistry, maths, physics but they don’t want to teach about God or religion. How will they know? Muslims says “Allah Hu Akbar”…Hindus says “Krishna or “Bhagawan or Ishwar”….they all mean in a way the same thing…”greatest, all attractive”…there can be only one greatest….not two…but we create teams…and then like sports we challenge each other”
Taxi Driver: “All same. They are saying the same thing…so many problems in life and world…what can you do?”, carefully stopping at the last traffic light before we turned a left to the street where I live.
Me: “Everyone’s wasting their time. Life is too short…before you know you will reach the end…and we will wonder how fast we got here…we were born in a hospital and we will die in a hospital….we won’t remember all these things we do now then but we will remember all that we haven’t done….better make good use of time thinking about God and less on phone bills”
The next couple of minutes were utter silence. He was thinking. Looked like he wanted to give up everything. We both were looking at the road ahead illuminated by the car head lights. The taxi stopped in front my flat and as I was paying him, I could notice that he was much more relaxed and relieved. Yet he was very quiet. He was probably thinking about the conversation we had…he was unwilling to drive away…he was grateful I think. In the coming weeks of 90hrs of driving round and buying his children’s friends gifts, he would surely start thinking about something else. And me on the marriage part.