I was actually searching for new nursery rhymes to sing to my little niece and keep her entertained. At 2 years, she had already grown out of all the ‘Twinkle, Twinkle Little Stars’ and ‘Ba Ba Black Sheeps’
‘Try something in hindi’, her father suggested.
What! Nursery rhymes in hindi?
I was not feeling convinced, even though I know a couple of good ones like ‘Machli jal ki rani hain’ and ‘Ek Chidiya’. But the little girl was not interested. She knew these as well. I thought that at least the evergreen ‘Chaddi pahen ke phul khila hain’ would do the wonders. But even that had not cut a favourable impression with her.
I was annoyed.
‘She is very picky’. I complained to her father.
‘She has her tastes’ he replied.
For her age, she certainly seemed to have a well cultivated rhyme consciousness.
The most I could do was come up with my own version of the ‘chaddi’ wearing and roaming and blooming song, suitably modified to generate a few laughs. And since that is where my creativity with rhymes ended, I called it quits.
‘Badi mushkil hain, khoya mera dil hain’, hummed the girl to sum up my defeat.
She followed it up with a most enlightening rhyme I ever heard in my life. It was themed on the rickshaw wala. Now really, the rickshaw wala is certainly not my idea of the hero who befits idolizing.
Anyway, coming to the rhyme.
It began with an old man summoning a rickshaw to take him to the temple.
‘Aye, Rickshaw wale, mandir chaloge?’
To which the fellow responds in the affirmative with a ‘Ji Babuji’.
However, if it were all that simple and straightforward, then there would be no scope for any further rhyme and rhythm. So, a twist in the tale…err..rhyme was introduced- how much would he charge?
‘Kitne paise loge?’
Gujarat, he would give a detailed break down of his charges complete with the profit that he would make out of that one trip.
Assam, his laziness would quote the cost on his behalf so that for the rest of the day, he would not have to do any more trips.
If in Bangalore, he would merely hand out a computer generated bill from the meter complete with a passenger ID, time stamp as well as a call center number and email ID to register a complain or dissatisfaction.
Whereas in Lucknow, his politeness and courteous self would get the better of him, thereby leaving the passenger stranded amidst negotiations for the fare.
But all that would happen in real life.
In the rhyme, all this drama was cut short with the rickshaw wala turning out to be a very pious man and therefore not charging anything, accepting whatever the old gent had to give. All in the name of God.
No wonder as kids we learn these rhymes. It’s a sweet world to live in then. Out grow that and all we are left with are haggling, heckling and finger wagging…. Rickshaw driver or not.