"Yeh main hu, Desraj, yeh mera auto hai aur yeh humari pawri ho rahi hai".
Sometimes, the internet can be a wonderful place.
Weeks after Delhi's 80-year-old 'Baba' garnered recognition on digital platforms and received massive financial assistance to open his own restaurant, it's now a 74-year-old auto driver from Mumbai, who is making news! On the 11th of February, a heartbreaking story of an auto-rickshaw driver, shared by Humans of Bombay, left people across the country in an emotional state of mind. This led to a crowdfunding venture and now, the collected money has been handed over to the driver so that he can afford a house of his own!
"It's been a year now and honestly, life's not bad..."
Deshraj is an auto driver, shuttling customers from Mumbai's Khar Danda Naka and his story has had everyone rooting for him with a lump in their throat. In his interview, Deshraj mentioned that after the death of both his sons, the responsibility of taking care of his wife, daughter-in-law and their 4 children fell on his shoulders. Further, to ensure the fulfilment of his granddaughter's dream of pursuing a B.Ed course from Delhi, he sold off his house and paid the fees. Since then, he had been eating and staying in his auto while ferrying passengers every day.
He was quoted saying, "I sent my wife, daughter-in-law and other grandkids to our relatives' home in our village, while I continued staying in Mumbai without a roof. It's been a year now and honestly, life's not bad–I eat and sleep in my auto and during the day, I ferry my passengers. Bas baithe baithe kabhi pair me dard ho jaata hai but then my granddaughter calls and tells me, 'I came first in my class,' and all my pain vanishes. I can't wait for her to become a teacher so that I can hug her and say, 'You've made me so proud.' She's going to be the first graduate in our family–main toh poore hafte sakbo free ride dunga!"
Netizens from all over the country and beyond, started a crowdfunding initiative for Deshraj which collected over Rs 24 lakhs and now finally, the man has a roof over his head. All within a span of two weeks! Although the target was to raise an amount of Rs 20 lakhs, the donations kept pouring in and the limit was exceeded by leaps and bounds.
Thanking everyone for the help pouring in from all quarters, HOB shared a reel on their Instagram account, where Deshraj says, "Ye main hoon, Deshraj; yeh mera auto aur hamari party ho rahi hai". The man is also seen accepting the cheque at the end of the video, with a Cheshire smile on his face!