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Vol. XXXI No. 12, October 1-15, 2021

A true story

The wallet, the photographer and the truck driver

“I felt miserable,” says photographer “Rags” Raghavan. He had lost his wallet owing to sheer carelessness.
This happened some seven years ago. Rags was in a car on the Madras-Salem highway being driven by a friend, he stopped for a few moments to take a photograph.

The photograph was of a motorbike carrying four Cone speakers. A pillion-rider was carrying two of them, one on either side, two more speakers were fixed to the bottom of the bike. “What some guys transport on their motorbikes is unbelievable. How they manage to drive and retain their balance beats me,” says Rags. He shoots such feats whenever he can.

Half an hour later, the car stopped at a motel for breakfast. Rags went for a wash, and discovered that his wallet was missing. “I have a bad habit,” says Rags. “When I’m in a car, I keep my wallet on my lap. That day when I got out of the car to shoot the motor cycle, my wallet must have dropped out.” He did consider driving back to recover the wallet but decided it was no use, it wouldn’t be there.

The wallet had Rs 3,000 in cash, two credit cards and visiting cards. Rags made phone calls to block the credit cards. “I felt bad – not so much because of the money, but because I had been foolish and thoughtless. I could hardly eat any breakfast, despite my friends’ urging”.

“Suddenly my phone buzzed. ‘Is it Mr Raghavan?’ asked the voice at the other end in Tamil. ‘Have you lost anything?’

“My blood froze,” Rags recalled. He said: “Yes, it is Raghavan, I have lost my wallet. It must have slipped out of my car.”

The other guy asked questions. Where did I lose the wallet? What was its colour? How much money did it contain?

After satisfying himself that I was the owner, the person at the other end said he was a lorry driver. He asked where I was, and said “Please stay there. I’m coming that side, will be there in about half an hour.”

Rags waited outside the motel. “Half an hour became a full hour, but then I spotted the guy’s lorry. He handed the wallet over to me. Everything intact. He refused any money from me as a thank-you gift. He said he was glad to have helped someone. But my friends persuaded him to accept Rs 1,000 from me. I told him the money was for his children.”

This happened on Ganesa Chaturthi day, and the lorry driver’s name was Ganesan!

“We became friends, we spoke occasionally on the phone, and without fail on Ganesa Chathurthi day,” says Rags. “I called him last year, and he seemed low and morose. Covid had hit him badly, and he had no money. I raised some money with the help of a few friends, and sent him about Rs 8,000.”

“Photography has given me many interesting experiences, and some fine friends like Ganesan,” says Rags.

by S.R. Madhu

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