Before we proceed any further, it is imperative to get an insight into the two most important ‘Whys’ that form the crux of this long story.
“Most misunderstandings in the world could be avoided if people would simply take the time to ask, “What else could this mean?”
― Shannon L. Alder
Without understanding these, my current choices, won’t make any sense.
Those important questions are:
1. Why has driving been so important to me that despite the many obstacles and repeated failures I could never give up?
2. Why were my parents, particularly my father so uninterested in letting me drive the car?
Let’s begin with me.
Since I was a little girl, I have wondered about the ‘division of responsibilities’ in our household. In my mind, my mother and father were equal partners in everything they did. This idea stemmed from the fact that they both were equally responsible for us kids cause we could seek permission from either of them to do anything we wanted. And also cause both my parents worked full-time, earned comparable salaries and were equally involved in making all the choices regarding running our household.
There was something major that didn’t quite go well with my above-stated hypothesis. Despite all the levels of equality in their relationship, there was a major imbalance. My father did not do any of the household work. He was solely responsible for the outdoor chores.
Though where grocery shopping and other shopping tasks were concerned, my father and mother always went together. All this while, I felt my mother was doing everything. She was responsible for all the household chores, cooking, laundry, teaching her children, had a full-time job and invested her remaining time and energy taking care of her elderly father-in-law.
As I grew old enough to see the major imbalance of responsibilities in my parent’s marriage, I noted something noteworthy. My mother, declined every offer, every opportunity to learn to drive. She wouldn’t make any effort to learn to ride the scooter or to drive the car. Though my father had her enrolled for car driving lessons, but she gave up in three days.
At that time, I had somehow failed to note, why my mother made the choice of staying dependent on my father to take her everywhere she ever wanted to go. I was hardly 9 or 10 years old and from the way, my father used to bring up the topic of how he was totally dependent on my mother to cook tasty meals (for he couldn’t even make a decent cup of tea for himself) and how he loved it, I learned the wrong lesson, “dependence was romantic”.
My immature mind perceived this as a sign of love, a bond that held two lovers, two partners together because dependence made sure they needed each other to be complete, for their happy existence.
As I stepped in my teens and when my brother started driving independently, I noted an important thing. My brother could now take the car and go for picnics and parties with his friends, without necessarily telling my parents where they were headed. To my teen mind, this was a huge plus, for he was no longer dependent on an escort to do things as he pleased.
At that time, I can vividly remember thinking that in exchange for driving my mother around, my father had actually traded all his share of household responsibilities. It was convenient for him but the toll this arrangement had on my mother’s physical and emotional health is something I can NEVER forget or even push to the back of my mind.
Here, I’d like to add that I was totally unaware of what patriarchy or feminism meant. To be rather brutally honest, I had never even heard of these terms or concepts.
This was the underlying reason, why I was determined to learn to drive, to be free from dependence on anyone, to lay the foundation of relationships based on equality in the true sense.
All this happened at a time when I was yet to get a taste of life and relationships in life. Many years down the line, I can still safely say, that these thoughts have been my driving force to embolden me enough to push my fears away and do what I did.
On the surface, this story seems to revolve solely about my desperation to drive a car, though, in reality, it shaped my life in a defining way.
How? I shall share those bits in the next part that shall (hopefully) be the final part of this series.
Let’s now address the one question that has been bothering me for over fifteen years, has resulted in many bitter experiences, on many occasions gave me sleepless nights before pushing me to do something drastic.
Why were my parents so averse to letting me drive the car?
“He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how.”
― Friedrich Nietzsche
At first, I thought of it as their concern for my safety. They were worried about me hurting me or worst still hurting anyone else owing to my reckless driving. For the record, I never speed when I’m behind the wheel. I am happier pushing the brakes than the accelerator anytime.
On many occasions, I was left feeling that it is not about me or my safety but the well-being of their car that was their paramount worry. These thoughts stemmed from my father’s constant nagging me about driving too slow (we are looking at 30kmph in city traffic) thus ruining the car’s average, burdening the car’s engine driving on heavier gears and not being very good with my parking skills (this last bit though, might need a whole new post because I beg to differ from my father on this).
Anyhow, in the next part of this story, as I shall narrate what followed my graduation, you’ll be amazed to note that the above hypothesis I had about my father fell flat on face, when he refused to be bothered about my safety even when I was driving at 120kmph and he was sitting in the passenger seat while he whined and fidgeted every minute when I was driving in our neighbourhood at snail speed.
Finding the elusive answer to this puzzle has brought me to where I am today.
“Life is filled with unanswered questions, but it is the courage to seek those answers that continues to give meaning to life. You can spend your life wallowing in despair, wondering why you were the one who was led towards the road strewn with pain, or you can be grateful that you are strong enough to survive it.”
― J.D. Stroube
to be continued…
The song on my mind: Ek Sawal main karun ~ Sasural