DEHRADUN: "Halka ho yaa bhaari, nar ho yaa naari, ya ho kunwari, bees Rupya sawari!" (Whether heavy or light, married or otherwise, Rs 20 per carriage). This is what one would hear on the banks of Jauligarh river in Dharchula in Pithoragarh district of Uttarakhand.
This head-turner call is routine during monsoon season on the river bank where Diwani Ram 'Yamraj' (50) waits for his prospective clients.
His family has been helping people cross raging rivers, natural canals in monsoon season by carrying them on their backs for four generations now.
"My father told me once to do something meaningful with my life. He taught me how to cross the rivers and canals while carrying a person on my shoulders. Later, he turned out to be my first passenger too," says Ram.
His mother left the world when he was just 10-months old, recalls the father of five children now.
"Later, elders of the village told me how my father used to take me to lactating women to get me breastfed. I owe everything to my parents and people of my village. So I decided help them. They are generous enough to pay me," said the music enthusiast, who has written and sung a song based on his village named Khurtoli.
Among the people he helped to cross the river are Harish Dhami, incumbent MLA of Dharchula, school teachers and students.
After the monsoon season, Ram and his family become busy with agricultural activities.
Asked about such a nickname, he narrates years old incident when he was conferred the name Yamraj, the god of death for saving lives.
"I was called Yamraj because I saved a woman who was caught up in the middle of the river. People said that I snachted her life from the clutches of Yamraj himself. Since then I got this nickname," says Ram, who recently pulled out a man who tumbled down the river with his bike.
Ram's family is residing in a government school building as their houses were engulfed by landslides last month.
The under-construction bridge over the river is yet to be ready for use. "Once the bridge is complete people will be safe. However, I will lose my earning but that's alright," said Ram adding that it will be like dream come true.
Some days, he earns up to Rs 7,000 from people who need to be ferried across the water as boats cannot be plied due to uneven riverbed
He also gives away the money he earns to those who are in need. "People from the towns of Dharchula and Munsiyari have no other way but to cross this river to go to their workplaces. Many of them do not have money to pay me or for means to travel. I help them as God has now given me enough," said Ram.