I started writing this story in 2011. The draft has been sitting idle for the longest time, secretly hoping for a miraculous turn of events so that this story meets a happy ending.
In the past three years, I have updated this draft, in my mind, almost daily. Still, I couldn’t find enough courage or feel calm enough to be able to publish it on the blog. The irony being, this story holds the key to some of my life’s biggest mysteries and god knows how eagerly I wanted to narrate this story to the universe.
Just when I reached the point where I couldn’t hold it back any longer, there came a major breakthrough, leading to further doubts and questions.
This is why, in the blog anniversary month, I have decided to set free the story that has been waiting to be told since the inception of this blog.
Long ago when I was a tween, my elder brother, then a 17-year-old boy, expressed his eagerness to learn to drive a car. Since our family owned a car, it was nothing major and my father happily agreed to teach him.
As my brother was in the 12th standard, the driving lessons used to happen in the hours he was free. On the days when the lessons happened in the evening, I would accompany him out of sheer curiosity.
It was the 2nd day of my brother driving the car. My father, who has a bad temper and can go to insane limits if you dare threaten to harm any of his belongings looked tenser than my brother.
Having seen my father in such a disturbed or rather threatening state was normal for everyone in the family. So we kids didn’t bother much and the driving lesson began. Hardly, 10 minutes had passed when my brother drove to a broken road with plenty of potholes and not much traffic.
Still getting used to the mood swings of the gearbox, my brother felt he could get through the bumpy road at a speed acceptable for the third gear but the reality was very different. To minimize the vibrations generated, my brother slowed down the car (not dead slow though) and somehow the car started to cough and grumble.
Without batting an eyelid, my father blurted out,
“Don’t you have any sense to put on a heavier gear so that the car’s engine can put up with the assaults your rash driving is inflicting on it.”
I clearly remember having all the hair on my back stand erect like pine needles. When clarity of my mind returned a few minutes later, I couldn’t help but wonder, why couldn’t my father simply say, “Change to the second gear” and keep going?
My reverie was broken by my father’s angry complaints that my brother was driving too slow and was unnecessarily burdening the car’s engine.
That day wasn’t the only incident when my father had chosen to blurt out an annoyingly-unambiguous-command at a point when a simple two-to-three word curt statement would have done the job, without denting the minds of his children.
Anyway, the strong-willed child my elder brother is, he swallowed the bitter pill of repeated verbal assaults, day after day, to end up learning to drive well in 15 days flat.
Still, my father would never spare a word of appreciation to say how wonderful his son had been driving. Till date my father feels that my brother drives the car too fast, is an angry driver and is over fussy about keeping his car spik and span. Though the reality is, my brother is a mirror image of my father when it comes to driving and maintaining his car, but no one has dared to say this, aloud, yet.
“Children reflect their parents better than a mirror. Shine upon them and never cast shadows.” ~ Ian Kingsley
Today, almost two decades later, I know the exact reason why my brother chose to behave the way he did, though I was too foolish or rather blind to gauge his emotions then.
In hindsight, I couldn’t help but wonder how different my life would have panned out, had my brother not been an introvert and had spoken freely about what all was going through his mind, every time our father scalded us with his wrath.
A few years later, when I turned 17, I made up my mind to learn to drive a car. What followed next, changed the course of my life in an irreversible way.
“I haven’t met that many women, human or angelic, who actually like to drive. In my experience they seem to be much more pragmatic about the whole thing than we are. For most males, driving is an extension of their masculinity; they have little fantasy scenarios going all the time – races, chases, and dramatic combat with other drivers. Females, on the other hand, generally seem to view driving as something you do to get somewhere. I know, crazy.” ~ Tad Williams
Continue reading the next part here.
The song on my mind: Ae Dil-e-nadaan ~ Razia Sultan