Sunday, August 19, 2007

India's Loss

The car showroom was somewhere in Trivandrum. When we reached there, Appa was in a magnanimous mood. This was the first time in his life that he was going to buy a car. But very gracefully (regally?), he allowed me and my brother to do the selection. “You can select whichever one you want!” he told us, his head held high. Our decision was unanimous (which was very rare). We ran forward and selected a red Gypsy.

“No! Not that! A car!” exclaimed our poor father. Amma looked at us with a condescending smile and repeated Appa’s words. “A Car! what you have selected is a Gypsy”…. as if we didn’t know!

“But we want a Gypsy” we cried. This was cheating! But then parents always got away with that. So, rather half heartedly, we selected a rather unobtrusively placed red Maruti 800.

The year was 1985.

Appa being a rather liberal type of guy allowed Amma to drive his new car. If my memory serves me right, she had actually learnt driving earlier but had never got the opportunity to drive a car after that. A woman driving a car was not exactly unheard of. In the whole district of kollam, there were about 3 more women who did it already….:)

Mothers are never too well known for their logic. But when Amma insisted that I too sit with her when she drove the car, so that “if something happens” I would be able to “handle” the situation. I didn’t give a darn about the logic. I just gave my full support.

The year as I said earlier, was 1985.

Yours truly was in Kindergarten. Yours truly was a very brave child!

Our daily routine during those days, still gives me the goose bumps. Amma would start the car and after much effort get it out of our front gate. Then she would ride past my primary school to a nearby church. At that time of the day, there would be nobody in the whole church, except for us. There we would kneel down and pray for 5 minutes in heavenly silence. Then she would drop me at my school and go to her bank. The prayers we said earlier were supposed to guard her during the rest of her journey when I was not there to “protect” her.

One morning, we had just sat in the car when Amma suddenly realized that she had forgotten her handbag(?). Knowing my penchant to play with objects like levers and pedals, she gave me stern warnings with dire consequences if I were to touch anything inside the car other than the seat I was sitting on. The message was clear, “play statue till I return”.

Nobody ever called me an obedient child. So the moment her pallu(Sari tip) disappeared from view, I jumped into the driver's seat and started playing Schumacher. I was just flying over one villain’s car, when to my left I suddenly noticed another villain coming in at full throttle. The situation called for some mind chilling maneuvers, so I threw the hand break, stepped the accelerator full and rotated the steering… all in one split second and that is when I saw the third villain coming in for the kill!!!

He was on the right side, so I stepped on the breaks kicked the clutch and rotated the steering in reverse direction….. Only to find that the steering no longer moved!!! I had done it! I had just managed to spoil our car!!

Oh God! What was I supposed to do now? Amma would be coming back any moment and I couldn’t even start to imagine her face when she would find out. I cursed the moment I felt like sitting in the driver’s seat. This is my entire fault I decided. If only I had done what Amma asked me to do, I wouldn’t be in all this trouble. Curse damn temptation!!! But what was I supposed to do now.

My mind was working overtime, what were my options? I couldn’t obviously put the blame on Antony, he was nowhere in sight and anyways Amma would call the bluff. Maybe I should run away. Maybe I could act as if nothing had happened. When Amma comes, I would act saintly, as if I never even seen the steering before. But knowing Amma, she would find out. Somehow, she always knew (she still does!).

That is when I noticed a colorful blur in the rear view mirror. A second look confirmed my worst fears, she was coming back. To say that my heart was in my mouth would be an understatement, I felt like I had already puked it out! My whole life (which was rather short, considering that I was about 3 - 4 years old) flew before my eyes.

Like an automaton, I opened the door and stepped out of the car. Then I ran towards her… there was two feet between her and the wall and about 5 feet between her and the house. So If I ran beside the house, I should be able to dodge her. And then I could run into the streets where I would live like Tom Sawyer/Huckleberry Finn/Oliver Twist.

But as I ran, my legs started to disobey. It was like somebody pulled them toward my mother. She was coming toward me with a sweet wide smile on her face (for the record, wide smiles on your mothers face is the worst thing that can happen when you have done some mischief. Mothers, as a rule should refrain from wide smiles altogether!!).

Finally after a bollywood filmi like run, I reached my mother. Now, it was the turn of my mouth to disobey. “I think I spoilt the steering Amma” I said tearfully. “Now it is not rotating”. She just smiled wider and said “You are a good boy Aby. See, you have told me the truth and now everything is going to be all right”.

It didn’t quite register. I mean, I was expecting to be burnt over the fires of hell, for my heinous misdeed and here was mother telling me everything was all right. “Really?” I asked, very relieved and bewildered.

Later, she explained to me about the steering lock and how when you put the key and turn the steering it unlocks. “But you were not obedient! You shouldn’t have touched it” she chided in the end. I had just escaped from eternal damnation! I was so relieved that I promised myself that I would never touch that devilish device for the rest of my life! And that is the story of how India lost its Schumacher.

P.S: The car was with us for 18 years before it was sold of as scrap.


N!$#@N^# said...

nice one dude...!! Enjoyed reading it.. :-))

btw please note India has not lost its Schumacher he's right now leaving a comment on your blog.... :-)

Abraham Menacherry said...

nishu: Da, the day you take the wheel in your hands will be a dark day in our country's history...Tsunami's/earthquakes/cyclones will all look like child's play then....:)

Sandeep Raja said...

good one dude.. it took me to 1987 when my dad bought Maruthi 800. i think there were only few maruthi cars in our town. it was wonderful to travel in that car.also i like gypsy more than 800. :)

Pradeep said...

Darn funny, dude :-))
Not seeing u on orkut these days ? Back in jail after parole ? :-D

jagadeesh said...

cute one buddy!! reminded me of, me getting on to my dad's enfield, when i was 3 years old, to recognize that the bike was on a side stand, and it is not as stable as one on the center-stand!!! and another time, to know how hot a bike's silencer could be!! :)

too good mate!! just loved your write, and as ever, your humorous style!! :))

Abraham Menacherry said...

Sandy: thank u, and I also love the Gypsy more than anything to this day... it is like one of those childhood dreams. Hope it comes true, one day.

Pradeep: Yeah, been sometime since I did orkutting... and how did you know that we had wi-fi connection in jail...:)

Jags: thank u! My father had a bajaj scooter in which I and my brother learnt the same lesson...:)

Sarah said...

Abraham! I sat smilin' thro'out...Regards to ur Amma n Appa:)