In a heartwarming incident, an elderly auto driver from Mumbai who sold his house for his granddaughter’s education saying ‘had to fulfill her dreams’ received 24 lakh rupees in donations. His story went viral after it was covered by a social-media page ‘Humans of Bombay’. This led to him receiving a helping hand from the netizens across India and so-far 24 lakh rupees have been raised for him in his pursuit of providing for her granddaughter’s education.
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The Story of Mr. Desraj ji from Mumbai
Life can be a cruel teacher to some more than others. Sometimes death, illness and tragedy can strike one out of nowhere and put them in a devastating situation. Mr. Desraj ji was also dealt bad cards by fate. Around 6-years ago, Desraj ji lost his elder son. But Desraj ji knew that he couldn’t waste time in mourning as he had the responsibility of taking care of his daughter-in-law and granddaughter. He went back to driving his auto just a day after life took his son away. Just 2 years later, his younger son also committed suicide which left Desraj ji as the only bread earner of the family.
When he performed the last rites of his younger son, Desraj ji’s granddaughter, who was a student of class 9, asked him whether she would need to quit studies. Desraj ji showed his true grit in the face of a tragedy and replied, “Never! You study as much as you want.”
Desraj ji started to drive his auto for longer hours and worked from 6 in the morning till midnight to support his family. There were times when he had barely anything to eat. During this time, he made a paltry sum of Rs. 10,000 a month. But his perseverance and patience weren’t letting anything come in between him and his dream of making her granddaughter a teacher.
“I had to fulfill her dreams…at any cost. So, I sold our house & paid her fees. Then, I sent my wife, daughter-in-law & other grandkids to our relatives’ home in our village, while I continued staying in Mumbai without a roof,” said Desraj ji in his interview.
According to the story covered by the Humans of Bombay, Desraj ji’s struggles felt worth it when he got the news of his granddaughter scoring 80% in her 12th board exams. On that day, Desraj ji was especially ecstatic and he went on to give his customers free service.
It’s been a year since his granddaughter scored well in her exams and Desraj ji has since been living in his auto. A weaker person would probably seek sympathy or complain about his fate, but instead, Desraj ji told that his pain vanishes when he receives a call from his granddaughter telling him that she scored well in her exams.
Desraj ji still continues driving his auto with a smile on his face. His dream is simple, to hug his granddaughter and tell her how proud he is when she finally becomes a teacher. When asked how he plans to celebrate that moment, Desraj ji said, “Main toh poore hafte sakbo free ride dunga! (I will give free auto rides to everyone for a week!”).
After his story was covered by Humans of Bombay, netizens connected to the man’s spirit on an emotional level. Soon, Gunjan Ratti started a fundraiser for him which exceeded its original goal of raising Rs. 20 lakh for him. On Monday, a video was shared by Humans of Bombay which showed Desraj ji receiving a cheque of Rs. 24 lakh and thanking people across the world who came together in his support.
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The story, quite similar to Baba ka Dhaba, has shown has that simple acts of solidarity by strangers can transform a person’s life for the better. It is also a gentle reminder that the Internet, though filled with hatred, hard-hitting opinions, can also be an agent of positive change.