Pics: Ramesh Pandith
Daijiworld Media Network - Mangaluru
Mangaluru, Apr 22: While most of us scowl and shout and complain about traffic density in the city, especially at peak hours, here's a man, a Good Samaritan, who has taken the intiative to act and do something about it.
Meet Abdul Rauf, popularly known as Rauf Bhai, a traffic volunteer who has been clearing traffic jams across the city from the past two-and-a-half years. He has not only won the hearts of many locals but has also been applauded by the traffic police for his dedicated service to the city.
Many of us may have seen him in action on a daily basis, but I was curious to know what motivated him to undertake this weary job.
Rauf was born in Mahakali Padpu, Mangaluru, on February 7, 1972 as the third child of the late J Abbas and Zubaida. He completed education only upto 8th standard from Cascia High School. Rauf said that his favorite teacher was the late Nirmala, who taught Kannada, and added that he was the only student who was never punished by the teachers.
His father passed away when he was in the 3rd standard. Though he managed to study till 8th standard, the situation at home did not allow him to continue his education any further, as his mother alone could not fulfill the needs of the entire family. He had to shoulder the responsibility of all his sisters, their education, and marriage.
After dropping out of school, he started to work in a Bolar provision store for a monthly salary of Rs 4,000. This was not sufficient to meet the expenses of the family, so he decided to work on his weekly off and during his free time. Rauf used to sell onions and get 25 paise per sack as commission. He was paid Re 1 for selling one kilo of newspaper in the morning and also Rs 5 for selling boxes of oil. Through such hard labour, he used to earn another Rs 800 per month.
Rauf was just 13 when he dropped out of school, and he worked in the provision store for 18 years. In 1998, he joined MCC as a drainage pump operator on a contract basis and used to earn a salary of Rs 4,200 per month. He served the MCC till 2012. In between, from 1998, he worked as an agent undertaking jobs related to passports and ration cards, driving license, etc.
The turning point came on a fateful Friday in 2012, when he went to a mosque for prayers, and happened to witness a fight between the traffic police and the public. He intervened and tried to stop the fight. Determined to prevent such fights from repeating, he took the initiative to park the vehicles from the very next Friday onwards. The first three Fridays he had to listen to comments from the public, but he knew exactly what he was doing and so continued the work in spite of lack of cooperation from the people.
From then on, he dedicated himself to clearing traffic jams and wherever there was a gridlock, he would volunteer and resolve the traffic.
Rauf rides a bicycle and on Mondays, he stations himself at Pumpwell, on Tuesdays near Unity Hospital, on Wednesdays near PVS Circle, on Thursdays near Milagres and Town Hall, on Fridays at the mosque behind the police commissioner's building, and on Saturdays at Kodialbail. "This is my daily schedule, but if necessary I wear the jacket which is always in bag and clear traffic jams whenever I come across them."
Rauf is immensely grateful to assistant commissioner of police (ACP) traffic Uday Naik for appreciating his efforts. He does not allow people to park vehicles in 'no parking' zones, and makes sure that there is free flow of traffic. Uday Naik has promised him a job in the traffic department and he will soon join the TWS (Traffic Warden Squad). Rauf is very happy on receiving the uniform and says, "I am eager to start the work officially."
But survival is not easy for this Good Samaritan. Rauf is married to Zeenath and the couple has three children - Abbas Hussain, Fathima Rahila, and Mohammed Raif. He says, "I do volunteer jobs on all days of the week, but this does not help me look after my family, so on Sundays when weddings are held in places like Bolar Shadi Mahal or Milagres, I charge Rs 1,000 for managing traffic. Those who organize events call me and ask my help to manage the traffic and this way I get income to run the family."
He says many asked him why, despite having so much knowledge about the functioning of the MCC, he did not try to join local politics. He says, "I listen to my mother and she does not wish me to join politics, and I respect her words. My wife is my inspiration."
Interestingly, three persons in the family - Rauf, his mother, and his son - all share the same birth date - February 7. His mother was born on February 7, 1955, Rauf on February 7, 1972 and his son on February 7, 2006. Not only that, Rauf says he purchased his bicycle on February 7, 1988. Needless to say, this date is very special to him.
His belief: "Life is like a bubble on water; it is not permanent, I don’t believe in religious differences. The blood of all human beings is red. I don’t see whether it is a temple, mosque or church - wherever there is a traffic jam I wear my jacket and clear the traffic. Where there is traffic, you will find me."