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Short-lived brotherhood

Short-lived brotherhood

Photo for representational purpose only. File photo

Rajbir Singh

IF something seems too good to be true, it probably is. On a scorching day, I was waiting for an autorickshaw on a highway. I was sweating profusely. All of a sudden, a Mercedes stopped right in front of me. One of its windows rolled down and a man sitting on the front seat enquired about a place. I replied: ‘Sir, it is 9-10 km from here. You just need to go straight on this road.’

‘Thank you, brother,’ he said humbly.

As I had been waiting for over 30 minutes, I asked him: ‘Sir, can you give me a ride as I have to reach there as well?’

‘Sure, we will drop you there,’ he said. I heaved a sigh of relief and expressed my gratitude to the man and his friend. They said in unison: ‘People of Punjab are very honest and helpful. They believe in brotherhood.’

I chipped in: ‘You are right. I was waiting for an autorickshaw, but you came from nowhere and gave me a ride. Travelling in a Mercedes is a dream come true for me.’ The man’s partner said: ‘Brother, these are material things. Instead, we are grateful for your help.’ It seemed that we just could not help admiring each other.

Out of the blue, the man said: ‘We are going to Focal Point for a business deal.’ The moment I heard this, I was dumbstruck. This was the very place from which they had picked me up! I had been thinking about my own destination (a chowk that was about 10 km from Focal Point) and had absentmindedly assumed that they also wanted to go there. Perhaps the heat had fuddled my brain.

I was on the horns of a dilemma as we had already covered 4-5 km. Initially, I thought that it would be wise not to disclose anything and simply leave the car after reaching the chowk. Then, I decided to tell the truth and face the consequences. I somehow gathered courage and requested them to stop the car.

‘What happened?’ one of the passengers asked. ‘Sorry, sir. I made a mistake. Actually, you picked me up from Focal Point,’ I said. The whole edifice of goodness and brotherhood crumbled like a house of cards.

‘So, this is how you fool people?’ the man yelled. ‘Sir, I thought you asked me about that chowk. I don’t know how this happened,’ I tried to clarify. Both looked at each other with anger writ large in their eyes.

Suddenly, the car came to a screeching halt. ‘I think you have reached your destination. That is why you told us to stop here,’ the man said. Again, I tried to convince them that I had not misled them, but in vain.

I quickly opened the door and said: ‘Thanks for pardoning me.’ The two passengers shouted in one voice: ‘Dafaa ho ja’ (get lost). I marvelled at the human knack for changing colours faster than a chameleon.

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