Photo by Daniel Meza on Unsplash

1

“Where we are heading, sir?” asked the cab driver staring at the rear mirror, to a just-settled passenger of his who is searching for the laptop in his bag.

“To the town hall, please”, passenger said in an up and down motion of his head. “In 15 mins, sir”, the cab driver said gearing up.

‘The start, high, low, high, the end, theme, people,’ cabby heard as the passenger said out to himself with his laptop on his lap and some hand movements in the air. As always cab driver enjoyed eccentric character of his passenger, driving and occasionally checking out the rear mirror.

“Hey, hi, what’s your name? And you can call me Jim” said the passenger leaning forward.

“Then you can call me Max”, cab driver said sensing a conversation, so leaning to his side.

“Did you ever think that you can change or influence the world, or a bit of it, Max”, Jim asked.

“Well, I have a fair chance to kill a few people every day. Of course, I did”, Max said sarcastically.

“Fair enough, now you’ve got a chance to listen to my speech”, Jim said.

“In the town hall?”

“No, here right now. Interested?”.

“But we have only 5 mins”.

“So, yes. Okay, it is an 18 min speech so, I will tell you about the underlying theme, and how I want people to think about the speech, okay”.

“Okay, I would be glad to listen”.

“Good, let’s begin. You are in the game and the game is on, this is the theme. I mean, changing the world, influencing the world or a part of it, is a game, it’s everyone’s game. And we think we can’t play this game saying, it needs power, money, reputation, and all the mighty things, as we see them. But what I want to say is willingly or otherwise, with our existence we are influencing a part of the world and we are the reason for our future. We are changing the world as it is now to the world in the future.

“So we, every one of us, have the power to influence the world. So I say we are all in the game and the game is on. You can’t quit. And if you ignore this it will be a bad move. The only option we have is to make a good move and never give up. As giving up is a bad move too. Winning, moving forward, perseverance…., more on that. Finally with some finishing lines a conclusion. At the end I want to remind people that they are capable of changing the world if they are willing to change the world. I mean, that they can at this very moment make the first move in changing the world and it’s just the time we needed to get the result. We want more…”, Jim stopped as he could see the Town hall.

“Are you ready to change the world, I mean to change the people?”, Max asked with a smile. Jim smiled. “ah, to do my part. You want to come over to see the speech?”

“I can’t, sir”, Max said.

“That’s okay, thank you. By the way I am Jim, don’t call me anything else”.

Cab cleared the space. And the speaker, Jim, took a step up to the town hall staring at the steps and smiling.

2

“Hey max, you said you couldn’t come to the speech”, Jim asked with his eyes widened.

“I didn’t, but I figured out when would you finish your speech and how would i meet you once again”, Max said.

“My goodness! thank you very much for coming”. Jim took a back seat.

“Then, where are we heading now?”, Max asked looking at the rear mirror.

“To the airport, Max”, Jim said.

“Okay in 20 min”, Max said gearing up. “another speech in another city or what?”

“Oh! no, just a small business with some schools in Bombay”

“Oh, suits with PPTs?”, Max added to the Jim’s answer.

Max stopped the car as an extension to the floating traffic attached to a traffic signal, just on the left edge of the road. There was a family, with a mother and two children playing in the dust, homeless under a tree just beside the road. The scene drew the attention of Jim and Max from the cab stopped in the traffic.

Max’s life just flashed in front of his eyes in a split second. The same happened to Jim too as both used to be in those places beside the road a few years ago. Jim was stuck thinking quietly of the two children playing in the dust. But for max, it felt like his heart’s been squeezed and his eyes got teary instantly. Not because max is too weak to handle the situation than Jim but they are different people with different lives.

Max asked with his trembling voice and wet eyes with regular pauses and sighs, “Jim, how do you explain what made those kids lay in that dust and become no more than the dust to the world? and what god is doing letting it happen for those innocent kids?”.

Jim can feel the pain in his questions but he didn’t interrupt him as he knew he has more in his heart to say and more than that to yell.

Max added, “Why did they have to crave for food and sleep countless nights with empty stomachs? Why did they get no chance of getting good education which you call as the great social and economic equalizer in this world? And why did they have to crawl in the dust, walk bare foot and can’t become anything more than a taxi driver like me? Why? Where is god? And what you call him? Yeah, the almighty, where is your almighty? Is he sleeping in the wilderness with twhat he created and never want to come back?, Is he already dead in between the creation and my childhood somewhere with shame? Where is he? where is he now?”

3

Finally after some time Max had calm down from his state of yelling. Now he asked Jim in a low voice, “Really?, are we, the street kids, orphans, poor children, born just to be the dust of this world? I wouldn’t say we are sad and heavy everyday but we feel disarmed and incapable of doing anything significant in this world. We won’t get any good education, good lifestyle and good identity. What are we after all? Why would the children like me even born?”.

Jim realized this is the time for him to say something. After he paid attention to his questions and his feeling of let down by the world, Jim started gently with low but assuring voice.

“ You are not the dust of this world”, Jim said. “ I dare not to say that you had a normal life as everybody else, and the pain you have gone through is part of everyone’s life. No, for some reason you had the hardest of childhoods in the world. And its so depressing that you didn’t get a good lifestyle and resources as everyone else. But I can speak of one thing. If its the case that this world could ever be kind for you, you would get out of that hardest childhood with a passion for life and the guts in your stomach to live a life that has some meaning. Awful lot of people with better childhood than you, are wandering through life lacking motivation, principles and values to live a life that is worth something. You have a pitiful childhood, but after that you would have an admiring personality and inspiring life that would impact quiet a lot of people in your generation and generations to come.”

Max smiled intermittently taking short breaths. He felt convinced, although not completely, because of Jim’s words. He had a feeling of guilt that he was too hard on him yelling. But Max really felt a strong point in Jim’s words.

“You are sure a hell of a speaker”, Max said, smiling at the rear mirror. Jim burst in to a big laugh feeling relieved that his words helped a little. Meanwhile, cab just reached airport and Max took a token for entrance.

“ Jim, how did you end up being so passionate to encourage people?”, Max asked with curious eyes.

“ As I said we would have to go through the hardest of childhoods but if it were the case that this world would once be kind for us, we would have the deepest zeal to make our lives worth living — that lead me to become like this. With that kindness of world being a teacher who had a good heart to take me home from a sidewalk and see through my studies and the love of a big brother.”

Max has struck with wonder to a great extent. And he could not able to talk because of it. He just assured himself that he would meet him again. After all Jim was a famous speaker and finding him is not a problem.

Jim hurried through his luggage and waited out side the cab to waive him goodbye before he would enter the terminal.

“Great!!” max said, “ you will hear from me soon enough, Jim”. He waived good bye.

“ To my pleasure!”, Jim said. “Until next time”.

Jim waived goodbye and turned back to board a plane to meet his father and brother whom he had left many years ago.

The speaker is the child from the short story “the son of the highway”. The fourth installment of The speaker is “the speaker: a soothing song”.

Storyteller of art and science. Deep learning & Cognitive science. Reach me at prakashkagitha@gmail.com to discuss research or collaboration or consulting.