Delhiwale: The auto driver’s prodigal son

The father’s nagging and the son’s antics make this perhaps the most affectionate duo in the city. During an auto ride we found the father-son bonding over music and home-cooked food.

delhi Updated: Jan 30, 2018 10:46 IST
Mayank Austen Soofi
Mayank Austen Soofi
Hindustan Times
Delhiwale,Dilliwale,Akash Gupta
Akash Gupta with his father in their auto rickshaw. (Mayank Austen Soofi / HT Photo)

After being unable to clear Class 10, Akash Gupta has thrown in the towel.

At least for now.

Instead, he spends his day with Papa, who is an auto-rickshaw driver. He sits in the back seat and takes it all in.

“I hate studying!” declares Akash Gupta “but love riding around Delhi with the wind beating on my face!”

We first meet the lively 16-year-old after hailing an auto at a dusty traffic junction in central Delhi’s Karol Bagh. He simply slips beside us in the back seat.

Mr Gupta quickly explains in mock desperation that “the boy is harmless. He’s my son who’s destroying his future!”

The youth slaps his hand on the forehead in great frustration, the way so many kids do when parents expose them in front of strangers.

Akash patiently explains he’d rather spend his entire life riding around with Dad. “I love going all across Delhi and listening to all those songs on Papa’s radio!”

Akash doesn’t like staying home with Mummy, hates TV, and claims he doesn’t have friends.

Father and son have some homemade food with them and stop along the road for a quiet lunch in the back seat. “I like that!” says Akash. He thinks for a few moments before declaring in a low nervous voice, “I love Papa, and Papa loves me.”

Later, Mr Gupta turns on the radio, in time for a ballad. Akash closes his eyes, brings his hand to his heart, and contracts his face into a kind of romantic agony, in keeping with the mood of the song.

Reaching our destination, Mr Gupta asks us: “Do you think something good will become of my son?” Akash jumps like a spring from the back seat, kisses his Papa, and says, “Ab chalo (now, drive on)!”

First Published: Jan 30, 2018 10:45 IST