The Yellow Taxi
“'You have a very bright future, Ravi' - wasn’t that what Dada told me? Rishi, you and I aren’t the same. I just wasn’t meant to be there.” Ravi says, his eyes trying hard to keep in the tears that fought to escape him.
I was 9 when I first met Ravi. He was Ramesh Kaka's, our housekeeper's, only son. He had the sweetest manners and the brightest minds. Being from the same grade, I always went to him with any doubts I had. My Dad, especially, was extremely fond of him. They bonded so well together – I would be lying if I say I was never jealous of all his talents.
We graduated high school in the same year and both of us appeared for NEET. While I flew over to the US to completed my under graduation from Boston University, Ravi got a seat at Calcutta Medical College under the caste quota. That was the day when my Dad, whom he lovingly called Dada had told him how proud he was of him.
It had been 6 years since I last saw him. But now, I can't believe myself.
I see him, driving a yellow taxi on the street.
He spots me walking to my home on the sidewalk and I meet his eyes. He averts his gaze and tries to hide, but sighs and moves his taxi beside me, getting out in front of me. When our eyes meet again, he can’t control his embarrassment. I smile and he reverts , but with an uncomfortable expression.
“How have you been Ravi? It has been a long time since I heard from you…..How is Kaka? An-and ... how … what are you do-”
He hugs me and I get consumed with nostalgia. We stand like that without words in a bustling corner of the busy streets of Old Calcutta with the sound of traffic filling in the silence.
"I was staying in a college dorm where almost all students were like you: privileged," he says after some time into our conversation. "I was different. The tough guys did not like me, as I used to refuse to do their assignments. They started coming after me. It-uh, it started with minor injuries first. But, then, Baba couldn't stand that," he completes and I tilt my head in confusion.
"He was diagnosed with hypertension. I couldn't let it happen any longer, Rishi. His condition started deteriorating. I had to drop out. I had no other option. I am happy for you, Rishi, I really am, but we aren't the same. The fact is -- I never belonged there."