There’s a common saying that goes- it’s easy to work for oneself, but often difficult to think for the others. This could not be possibly any truer especially during times of an epidemic where it’s easy to become isolated or think for one’s own interest or self-interest. Who could, for instance, in these times be any bothered for the welfare of the other when all that one gets to hear, on an everyday basis is disease or death?
But then at the same time where those who are fully capable of helping others in India, a country so awfully bent by the second wave of the virus, there are also some like Mumbai’s Dattatray Sawant, who are doing their heroic bit. And perhaps that is why it isn’t incorrect to call them as COVID heroes.
So the question is who is Dattatray Sawant and why’s he being labeled a COVID hero, someone who’s emerged as an inspirational figure for the common man whilst being one himself at a time where one may consider stepping out of the house as too dangerous a thing (and rightly so)?
An Auto Rickshaw driver, Dattatray Sawant is a busy man nowadays. No, it’s not because he’s finding way more passengers than he would in a normal bustling Mumbai weekday. It’s simply because he doesn’t have the luxury of free time on his shoulders for he’s shouldering the support of many. Providing free auto rides to the poor and needy as well the COVID patients, Dattatray Sawant is someone who truly epitomises the sacred message: “Service to man, is Service to God!”
And so much so that this also happens to be the very message on his own auto in which he toils never for the greed of money but only so that several needy individuals, who happen to be absolute strangers to him, can be helped.
Operating akin to a Messiah in the area of Ghatkopar, Dattatray Sawant is not your average hero who has a sad poor story, someone who couldn’t find his way into education. As a matter of fact, the Pune-born COVID hero had completed his education in the very city and had moved to Mumbai in 2000 to obtain a degree in B Ed.
Moreover, the mid-aged man isn’t just an auto driver. When he completes his usual work through the day, he turns to teaching. How often have you heard such a fine story?
In an interaction with India Today’s Raya Ghosh, he happened to share some insights about his teaching journey, stating, “I teach English to students of Classes 8, 9 and 10 in Dnyansagar Vidyamandir, Ghatkopar. Three years ago, I bought an auto on loan and started driving the vehicle after school.”
But now even as the schools are shut and there’s not much scope of doing substantial amount of English teaching anymore, Dattatraya Sawant has found a way to engage himself in the service of the others.
“I leave home at 7 am and return home in the afternoon for an hour or so to rest and have lunch. At around 4 pm, I leave home again and drive till around 9 pm.”
All of that being said, he also comes to the rescue of the senior citizens of the area he works at, as he happened to share, “Often, Covid patients and elderly citizens approach me, and ask me to drop them at hospitals or Covid care centres. I give them auto rides for free. Most of the times, I also give free rides to old people, for their visits to vaccination centres or for medical requirements.”
In times where it’s just becoming increasingly difficult to come out harms way, it’s such a beautiful story to come across a real story of a man who can actually be described as a Good Samaritan! Hats of to you Mr. Sawant.