Two years ago, a government doctor identified as Rameshwar Prasad Yadav was driving to Churi, his village in Rajasthan when he saw 4 girls standing by the road amid a heavy downpour. His wife- Tarawati came up to them and offered them a lift. In a healthy conversation that followed up, the husband and wife came to know that the girls went to a college in Kotputli which is the closest town about 18km away, but their attendance was very bad.
Though it doesn’t rain quite often here, the girls usually had to walk 3 to 6km on a hot and dusty road before reaching the bus stop. “The boys misbehave with us on the bus,” one student told them.
“After we reached home, my wife asked me, ‘Apan kuchh kar sakte hain kya (can we do something for them)?” The doctor replied with another question: “If our own daughter was alive today, how much would we have spent on her education and wedding?” “Around Rs 20 lakh,” she estimated.
Yes, it is a heart-touching story. “I decided to buy a bus for them,” says Yadav. The paediatrician took Rs 17 lakh from his general Provident Fund (PF) which is 75% of the total amount and then added Rs 2 lakh from his savings only to afford a brand new white Tata Starbus for a whopping Rs 19 lakh.
Today, the bus provides free rides from the start to the destination for the girls of Churi and the villages of Pawala, Kayampura Baas and Banethi in central Rajasthan’s Jaipur district. Yadav invited the four girls to inaugurate it. “After our daughter’s death, there was a sense of loss. But now there’s is a feeling of fulfilment,” says Tarawati.
The couple married at a young age and had a daughter named Hemlata when Tarawati became a mother at 18. In 1976, Yadav was focussed on the medical entrance test when his six-month-old daughter fell ill.
“My wife took her to a doctor who gave her an injection. Her body turned blue and she died soon after,” he recalls. “We wanted a daughter but had three sons thereafter. Now, I feel I have 50 Hemlatas,” he says.
The 40-seater is an added advantage for the girls who didn’t really liked the overloaded public buses and the eve-teasing and harassment they faced owing to which affected their attendance records. But now they can breathe a sigh of relief as they are turning up in numbers to strengthen their attendance records. “Parents would ask why they needed to go to college every day,” says Yamini Chaturvedi, who teaches home science. “He would call to check if the lecturer had arrived and only then send her,” she says.
The bus which is 1 year old, has already uplifted girls’ morale. Pooja of Baneti aspires to join Delhi Police. Aman wants to be a nurse in the future while Kajal wants to join the Army. The bus also has a message “I want the bus to motivate others to do positive things and discover the joys of giving,” says Yadav.
The rich people of India need to take home a lesson from this couple’s heart-touching story. Sharing with the downtrodden brings immense joy and fulfilment. The Youth salutes both of you!
Originally Published In The Times OF India