Viral auto driver Desraj: Will fund my granddaughter’s education now
Even at 74, Mumbai auto driver Desraj’s will to fend for his family, after the untimely demise of his two sons, is inspirational. And his story tugged at the heartstrings of social media netizens; many of whom have donated to help him raise a whopping ₹24 lakh! “Maine kabhi nahi socha tha meri life aise change ho jayegi,” says Desraj, adding, “I’m very happy, and grateful to everyone who helped me and my family.”
Desraj’s story recently went viral on social media, when shared by Humans of Bombay. He lost both his sons in a matter of a few years, which made him become the sole breadwinner of his family of seven members. To add to his woes, his financial resources drained further when his wife fell sick.
When his heart-wrenching story was shared on social media, his story prompted a concerned citizen to start a crowdfunding initiative to help this auto driver. “I had come to Mumbai with my father, who worked at a hotel. I’ve seen extreme poverty; itne paise life mein nahi dekhe. I drive all day, earn only ₹10,000 a month, and am used to living in my auto,” says the auto driver, who had to sell off his house to pay for his granddaughter’s education, and move his family to his relative’s place in Himachal Pradesh.
What does he plan to do with the money now? “I could only teach my daughter till standard X. I want my granddaughter, Diya to study as much as she wants. I can now provide for her. She is very happy and hopes to pursue BEd. She’ll be the first graduate in the family! I can now pay for her tuition so that she can prepare for her higher education. She will appear for her 10th boards this year, and doesn’t have to worry about anything now,” says Desraj, adding, “I know women today are facing many problems, and an uneducated woman faces even more problems. I want my granddaughter to stand on her own two feet, absolutely independent.”
Hailing from Himachal Pradesh, the auto driver is now in a capacity to buy a house of his own. But, does he wish to continue living in Mumbai? “I’ve been away from my wife for years because I had to earn, and sent her money back home. Now, she wants me to go back to her. Vo keh rahi hai bohot saal alag reh liye, ab ghar ajao. But for me, Mumbai is also like home. People and even kids here call me Papaji... it warms my heart. I might stay here for a while and then head home. But I’ll continue coming to Mumbai. I’ve been here for almost three decades; can’t leave just yet,” he says.
Author tweets @bhagat_mallika