When my friend told me about this, what popped into my mind was an image from NASA. How can you connect one of the hundreds of conductors in Mumbai’s public buses to an image of earth? Let me finish with the conductor first.
You may have come across this news if you read the Mumbai edition of The Times of India.
Even if you did read it, you may have forgotten. Unless you are Dharmaraj Dhanawade, the conductor. Or, Ramesh Menon, the executive who lost the wallet. Ramesh happens to be a good friend and he told me about this.
That evening, his wallet did not get off the bus with him. He was too busy on the phone to notice. It was only the next morning that Ramesh discovered the loss. Within hours of the discovery he got a call from the BEST (the name of Mumbai’s city bus service) conductor who refused to give his name, but just told Ramesh where he could find his wallet and the how he could claim it.
Ramesh was very happy to get his wallet back with all contents intact. He cajoled a BEST officer to reveal the honest conductor’s name and tipped off a journalist friend. Dharmaraj was soon a hero. He was on TV. Back in their village, his mother could not hold her tears back when her now-famous son shared the news with her.
In their growing up years, she never hesitated to give Dharmaraj and his brother a good thrashing if they strayed.
“Maybe I was wrong in beating him? He turned out to be so good,” she sobbed when she met Ramesh.
“Or, maybe that all that thrashing was a mother’s blessing? Maybe that helped him become what he is today?” Ramesh consoled her.
Inspiring example for art
At a rangoli (floor art using colored powder) exhibition in BEST headquarters, one of Dharmaraj’s colleagues, Kishor Sawant, was inspired enough to feature Dharmaraj as the hero of the public transport service and of the city. Kishor had never met Dharmaraj before. A rather embarrassed Ramesh was a popular guest at the exhibition. Dharamaraj’s mother was there, too.
In the bus, on her way back to the village the mother got a call. Her photo with the rangoli had appeared in a Marathi newspaper. She got off the bus at the next halt and bought the paper. Soon, she was a celebrity in her village. Local TV channels and newspapers pestered her for interviews.
A tiny dot of light
This is the NASA image that came to my mind when Ramesh told me about the honest conductor.
Dharmaraj is like one of those pinpricks of light. If he manages to resist the tide (“Are you a fool? Why didn’t you just take the cash and throw away the rest?”), maybe he will inspire more such dots of light. Imagine all of us living in a world of integrity. Not having to watch our back. Not having to doubt one another.
That is fantasy. Nice to read about, nicer to write about and nicest to live. As long there is a Dharmaraj, there is hope, a tiny dot of light.