FELLOW BEINGS: The men seated in the driving seat of trishaws become a very common conversation point in today’s society for various reasons. We see them on the road. Some of us even stop and ask them for directions when we seem to have lost our way.
We make comments about trishaw drivers, yet we never seem to have understood what goes on behind the scenes in these trishaw drivers’ lives.
I Spoke to two trishaw drivers, Mahesh and Sandun to understand their views and concerns about road safety, road etiquette and their outlook of life in Mother Lanka.
I first met Mahesh, 35, from Kiribathgoda. Mahesh had to earn for his family at a very young age, as his father passed away when he was only 18. After finishing his school education Mahesh was forced to give up his dream of University and becoming a Doctor. The family sold some of their property and purchased a trishaw, as Mahesh had to support his mother and two younger sisters.
Today, Mahesh’s sisters have finished their education and are happily married. Mahesh is also married and he is now the proud parent of a 2 year old daughter. His dream is for his daughter to become a doctor.
Mahesh admits that living and moving around with trishaw drivers was tough for him at the beginning. But once Mahesh got to know the rest of the trishaw driving community they became a family. Mahesh went onto say even during times of crisis all the drivers stood by each other like a family.
During our discussion Mahesh began to compare the human relationship between trishaw drivers and bus drivers. Bus drivers always compete with each other he said. “It’s true that we have to compete to achieve our target but there is a limit,” he said.
Most bus drivers meet with accidents as they are trying to overtake the other. My conversation with Mahesh taught me that trishaw drivers treated each other as family members and that they wish to separate themselves from bus drivers as they find that their values differ.
I then met Sandun, 24, from Wellawatte.
Sandun was disgusted with life as a trishaw driver. His father was a trishaw driver. Therefore his fathers wish was for Sandun, to follow his footsteps.
Sandun, goes on to say that when he takes his customers for a journey he is able to take glimpses into their lives and sometimes becomes very depressed when he sees what goes on. When I inquire to what exactly depresses him, he told me that recently he went on a hire with a gentleman.
The man and his wife were talking about looking for a good school for their child and then the woman said to stop the trishaw as we were close to her office. She then got off from the trishaw and went.
The man then asked Sandun to pick up a woman who was standing near the clock tower they went to a restaurant and after the meal Sandun had to drop the woman off. The story didn’t end there.
The man then picked up his wife from office and when his wife asked him if he had lunch, the man replied by saying that he hadn’t eaten yet. Sandun, said that if people can’t manage their family affairs properly how are they going to manage the country’s affairs properly.
I understood that trishaw drivers should be recognised as good human beings. Accidents do occur, but we all make mistakes. Learn to be united even if we are in the wrong. We should learn to respect all living beings no matter what their class, race is. Let patience, love and understanding remain with you forever.