Biswajit Jha’s Bike Ambulance Dada released by Penguin Random House India is the inspiring story of Padmashri Awardee Karimul Hak who ferries patients to hospitals on his motorcycle
Book review by Anubhav Das
Bike Ambulance Dada
Author: Biswajit Jha
Imprint: India Penguin
Pages: 224; Published: Jan 2021
MRP: INR 250
There are those who find that living for others is the best way to live life. They are the selfless ones who serve society without any expectations. One such is Karimul Hak, who was awarded India’s fourth highest civilian award, the Padmashri, in January this year for his tireless service to the sick, whom he ferries to hospitals free of cost on his motorcycle. Hak has also been featured on Kaun Banega Crorepati along with Sonu Sood.
And now his life too has been documented in a biography by Biswajit Jha Bike Ambulance Dada (brought out by India Penguin). Twenty-five years ago, Hak lost his mother to a heart-attack because he could not afford an ambulance for her. And because there was no other means to take her to a hospital. This worker from tea gardens, vowed that no other patient would lose their life because of lack of this basic facility.
To date, Hak has saved over 4000 lives by taking the sick to the hospital by tying them to his back and driving them to the hospital on his motorcycle. Bike Ambulance Dada – The inspiring Story of Karimul Hak is an authorised biography of this humble worker from Dhalabari, West Bengal who started a free cycle ambulance service from his village to the nearest hospital. It would be some time before a motorcycle would be available to him to continue his noble work.
Right off the bat, the book transports us to the day Hak received the Padmashri. Bike Ambulance Dada illustrates how Hak was both happy and sad at this recognition for it reminded him of his mother who could not be saved for lack of medical care. In creating this dichotomy of vision, Jha creates a layered narrative which is both engaging and real.
The book then begins to explore Hak’s life right from his childhood – a life that is both inspiring and heart-warming. The story of a man who went against all odds to provide his service to those in need and even though he was not taken seriously by his community initially. Today, his dedication, hard work and humble attitude is considered nothing short of incredible but back then it was seen foolhardy by those who didn’t believe in his cause. The book takes you on a journey and gives you insights about a common man with an extraordinary resolve, which emerged from a personal loss but took on a life of its own – after he realised that he was actually doing great service by the community.
Hak’s childhood in Bangladesh was spent in poverty, and Bike Ambulance Dada explores the socio-political circumstances between the two countries thoroughly. The simple yet impactful writing style of debutant Biswajit Jha keeps the reader engaged throughout. He manages to keep his reader captivated by not using fancy adjectives and hence explores Hak’s life effectively. The narration of events is also crisp, never feeling sluggish or overwhelming.
Each chapter unfolds a new phase in Hak’s life, and as a reader you are left asking for more. The making of Bike Ambulance Dada is a journey full of emotions and harsh realities. Hak’s life makes you believe that anything is achievable if its backed by strong will and hardwork. Inspired by his efforts, different NGOs have begun following his lead and provide bike ambulance services too in the remotest areas of our country thus saving many precious lives.
On the other hand, Bike Ambulance Dada also shows how cruel and unequal is the society we live in. For those looking for inspiration of how small can achieve big, here is the perfect read. Go ahead and pick a copy soon.
Read the excerpt from the book
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Anubhav is a student of class 11 who is interested in creative writing, filmmaking and photography. He has taken up humanities and aspires to be a screenwriter.