Penning down his experiences with the passengers, a rickshaw puller from Amritsar has released a unique book ‘Rickshaw tey Chaldi Zindagi’ (Life on a rickshaw). Written by Rajbir Singh, 40, who has just studied till Class X, the book is a compilation of short stories on his experience till now.
Twenty years ago, his father’s deteriorating health had forced him to leave studies and start pulling a rickshaw on roads of Amritsar. “With no other source of income visible to me then, I left studies and sat on the rickshaw of my father. It wasn’t that we were ancestrally poor, it were the circumstances that landed me into this profession,” says Singh.
The 14-chapter book, priced at Rs 200, has been published by a Rajpura-based publisher.
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“I started writing because I was in pain. The pain was due to the discrimination that is faced by several poor Sikhs like me. I was watching a television programme in which rich and well-settled Sikhs were being honoured. It was then that I decided to write about those poor Sikhs who work as mechanics, rickshaw pullers, labourers to run their families. The teachings of Guru Nanak said there is nothing like rich Sikh or poor Sikh. I decided to spread this message through my writing and started sending articles to vernaculars,” he says.
In his book, Singh has compiled encounters with interesting passengers, which he describes as ‘unforgettable’ people who came in his life.
For instance, a polio-stricken girl whom he used to see walk daily to office. “One day, I shunned hesitation and asked her to sit on my rickshaw. She refused because she had no money but I told her I won’t take any money from her. For many days, I dropped her like this before she left the job and never met me again,” he recounts.
He’s also written about some tourists from abroad who had come to visit Golden Temple. “I was stunned when they offered ice-cream to a poor like me. Not only me but all five rickshaw pullers whom they hired. We refused but they made us eat forcibly,” he says.
Singh has also installed a donation box in his rickshaw which says ‘Guru Di Golak, Sirf Lodwandan Layi’ (Guru’s Donation Box, only for the poor). “I put a part of my daily earnings into that box. Any passenger who wishes to also donates. At month end this money goes to poor who cannot afford medicines, books, etc., or any needy passenger who sits in my rickshaw. He/she needs it more than me,” he says.
Singh is now promoting his book through friends, social media and passengers, and some copies of the book are always available on his rickshaw. “After all, this rickshaw has given me everything including courage and confidence to write this book,” he says.