Versova resident Mohammad Saeed is working almost round-the-clock, while also looking after his son, even as his three-month-old girl is under a neighbour’s care
The sight of an autorickshaw driver in Versova ferrying passengers while his sweat-soaked two-and-a-half-year-old son cries in his lap has caught the attention of several Mumbaikars, who took to social media to narrate a heartrending story.For the last two weeks, Mohammad Saeed, a resident of Versova village, has been forced to carry around his son Muzammil in stifling heat, after his wife Yasmin was left paralysed due to a stroke. The couple’s three-month-old daughter, Muskaan, is in the care of a neighbour, who said he would only be able to accommodate one of the kids in his shanty, as he already has three children of his own.

Saeed, 26, said his family in Uttar Pradesh’s Gorakhpur district, and Yasmin’s kin in Bengaluru expressed their inability to come to the city and look after Yasmin, 24, and the children. It was now up to him to arrange money for the treatment and keep the kitchen running, he said. “My wife has been paralysed in the left side of the body. She suffered a stroke around three weeks ago and I rushed her to Cooper Hospital.She needs to undergo MRI scans and I’m trying to collect money for her treatment,“ Saeed told Mirror on Sunday.

Saeed, who came to Mumbai looking for work 10 years ago, plies a rented autorickshaw, for which he has to pay Rs 400 a day. After his wife was discharged from hospital, he needs to visit her every two hours to make sure she has medicines. He also ensures their infant daughter is alright. “I work almost 24 hours, with intermittent breaks to give my wife food and medicines. During these breaks, I sleep for some time,“ he said.

Regarding the need to carry Muzammil with him at all times, he said it was for the boy’s own safety. “He once walked out on his own and could have met with an accident. Also, there’s nobody to feed him, look after him. If he’s with me, I can ensure he eats on time and remains safe,“ Saeed said.

He said he earns around Rs 400 to Rs 600 a day, and the sight of a child in his lap sometimes scares away passengers. “A lot of people assume there could be trouble when they see a kid in my lap. I try to explain but some take another auto. It’s alright, I can’t blame them,“ he said. The other day, he was fined Rs 450 by a traffic cop for carrying around his boy, he said.

Saeed said he has no funds whatsoever, and will approach public hospitals when he has a few thousand rupees on him, even if there are options of free treatment, because once his wife is hospitalised, he will have to stop work com pletely and remain by her bedside. “They say the treatment is completely free but you end up spending at least Rs 1,000 a day. I have gone through this situation and I know it too well,“ he said.

Saeed’s plight was highlighted by film director Vinod Kapri, who tweeted the auto driver’s phone number, after which he received several calls offering help. “One gentleman said he would babysit my son. I didn’t know what to say, so I just thanked him,“ he said. Following Kapri’s tweet, several Mumbaikars tweeted Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis requesting his intervention, while a few others asked NGOs to help Saeed. “Mumbai is a kind city. I know I will tide over this crisis. I just want to see my wife recover, and my kids safe and healthy,“ he said.

Meanwhile, the Cooper Hospital authorities said they will do everything possible to help Saeed. The hospital dean, Dr Ganesh Shinde, said, “Let him approach me, and we’ll help him.“