As Rameez Shaikh left his office for Friday prayer to the nearest mosque in Mumbai, he forgot to carry his wallet in the hurry. He realised it while catching an auto-rickshaw but it was too late to turn back.
Little did he know that what would follow next was going to win his heart and change the way he perceived people.
In a Facebook post shared on August 26 that has garnered over 8000 shares, Shaikh described his experience with auto driver Shukla as he made his way to the mosque.
“I requested the auto guy to drop me at the Masjid and wait till I pray (for 15-20 minutes) and drop me back; and that I will pay him more than the fare,” he said in his post.
“The auto guy (who was pasting a “Ganpati Utsav” sticker on his windshield as I entered in his auto) told me: “Aap bhagwan ke kaam ke liye jaa rahe ho, aap tension matt le... mai chhodd deta hu aap ko... (You are going for a holy thing, do not be so tensed),” Shaikh added saying that the driver agreed to take him to the mosque but said that he will not be able to wait.
“Now as he dropped me at the Masjid he did something which I never expected.”
Shukla offered Shaikh money so that he could get back to his workplace after offering his prayer.
“Since he could not wait for me, he wanted to ensure that I get back to my work place conveniently. He was very sincerely telling me not to feel embarrassed for that...” Shaikh wrote.
Touched by his gesture, he took to social media to tell people what he experienced.
“Though ultimately I didn’t take the cash he offered. Yes, I noted his mobile number and paid him his fare later in that same evening (before making the original post on FB). Though he never intended or asked for the money,” he said.
He added that when he called Shukla to pay him, the auto driver modestly underplayed the whole incident as if nothing great had happened. “I insisted, went over to him and paid him his fare. He made it look like I did a great job paying him back but I didn’t feel that I repaid his gesture. That’s why I made the FB post,” he said.
“Could be a stereotype breaker for some... An ‘Auto-wala,’ ‘Ganpati bhakt’ with ‘Large red tilak on forehead’ going out of his way to make sure that a fellow human of another faith gets to pray to his deity with all the peace.”
Shaikh has decided to take printouts of the comments on his post to share them with Shukla.
“We should all come out and share the positive experiences on social media. There’s too much hatred out here. The reason for hatred is not that only negativity prevails but that it easily sells. So let’s take some time out of our busy lives and share the positive experiences around,” he wrote.