In 1982 Mumbai, an engineer, Vijay Thakur, received the happiest news of his life. He worked with Larsen & Toubro, earned well and had a happily married life. The news he had received was that his wife was pregnant. Three months passed when his wife suddenly experienced acute pain in her abdomen.
The man rushed to take his wife to the hospital. At 2 am in the morning, despite his frantic pleading and flagging down several taxis, none were ready to take him to the hospital. Desperate, he ran towards the nearest station and got a taxi for ₹300, which was way, way more than he should have actually paid for. They reached the hospital but by that time, the delay had happened. All was lost. His wife suffered from a miscarriage that very night.
“I was earning quite well then and so I could afford to at least pay double and get a taxi. But I started thinking about those people who cannot even afford to hire an auto rickshaw,”
says Vijay Thakur.
Such was the tragedy that it changed the man’s life forever. He is none other than Vijay Thakur, who gave up everything for the cause that was the turning point of his life. His desire to help other such people reached such an extent that that when his company introduced a voluntary resignation program in 1984, he took it.
Vijay Thakur went from an engineer to a taxi driver. He bought a Fiat for ₹66,000 and a taxi permit, promising himself that he would never decline a passenger. He kept up his work despite opposition from friends and family.
“I don’t sleep between 2 am and 4 am because that is the time an emergency patient may need a taxi,” says Vijay Thakur.
Life, however, wasn’t done with him yet. In 1999, his younger son was hit in the knee by a cricket ball. Thakur and his wife dismissed it as a small injury. This cut however, became a small bump, which eventually resulted into a cancerous wound. Vijay’s 19 year old son passed away 16 days later.
“Once, I had to pay a bill for Rs. 43,000 for my son’s treatment. I was short by Rs. 10 and the cashier refused to accept my money. A stranger offered me the balance and only then did the cashier take the money and issue a receipt. This incident strengthened my resolve to help people in need,” says Vijay Thakur.
Vijay was devastated as his savings were all spent on his son’s treatment. After that, he took the decision to not charge his poor patients and showcased the same on the rear window of his taxi. His resolve strengthened and anyone, anytime could approach him and he wouldn’t turn away from them, helping them in whatever way they could.
The best part about this is that Vijay never does it for publicity or attention. His intentions are pure and his dedication towards his mission is unwavering. He never expects any glory or money after doing a good deed. He was also felicitated by Amitabh Bachchan on the show ‘Aaj Raat hai Zindagi’ wherein he met Jeetendra, his favourite star.
“It was one of the happiest moments of my life. I never ever thought I could meet Jeetu ji. I am a huge fan. I used to bunk school and watch his movies. I have watched the movie Farz some 31 times just because of Jeetendra,”
says Vijay Thakur.
Vijay doesn’t have any airs about him. This is the man who left a lucrative job as an engineer and became a taxi driver for the sole purpose to help people reach their destinations without giving them a chance to complain. Vijay Thakur is among the people who make Mumbai the city with the biggest heart. He is the unsung hero, the cherished son of the city which stands for anyone, anytime.
Vijay Thakur also gave a Tedx Talk called “Changing the world one taxi ride at a time”, which can be watched here.
Our world is full of such simple yet inspirational people, like Vijay Thakur, who gave up the luxury of their lives for a cause. If you too know someone who has dedicated his life to make this world a better place then let us know in the comments below.