Of all the things I’ve achieved so far (that would be two things, not being awkward at one party is the first) learning to drive a car is the one I cherish the most.
I started trying to drive when I was three. At least, I posed like I was, inside the Fiat Padmini that my dad first bought. I knew back then that I was born to be a badass driver. But, I didn’t know that the road to being badass, would be paved with extremely disgusting drivers, bucket loads of tears and getting yelled at by mean people.
When I turned 18, I didn’t have too many aspirations, I only wanted to master straightening my hair. Since most of my time was spent doing that, I never had much left to learn driving.
But after a lot of coaxing by mum, I enrolled into a driving school and that episode scarred me for life. The teacher would grunt, spit outside the moving car, dig his nose, scratch his crotch and would also manage to ask me to drive. I was so grossed out by him that I never concentrated on driving.
My second teacher was a kind man, with a red beard and paan-stained lips. He taught me how to drive and never yelled at me. We drove around the city, by that I mean, I pretended to turn the steering wheel, while he controlled the car. He would make me stop at paan shops so that he could buy a paan for himself.
I really liked him. He would abuse people on the road, drive through the ditches and laugh at men who used to get scared of my driving. In many ways, he was a lot like me.
I finally got my license, thanks to him.
But I never ventured out in a car on my own. My family never pestered me to get married, on second thoughts I wish they did. Instead, they badgered me about driving. Sometimes my father wouldn’t bug me, I think he felt the world was safer without me as a driver.
One day, my mother bullied my father into letting me drive his car, under his supervision. That was the second worst mistake of her life, the first was giving birth to my brother.
It was early on a Sunday morning. I left home sleepy, but returned bawling my eyes out. What was mummy thinking? I rammed into a bike, hit a passerby (he was walking on the road), wailed on a beautiful stretch of road because my father couldn’t stop scolding me and returned home a failed warrior.
After that, I stuck to autorickshaws.
But one bright day, I woke up with a new plan. I was going to buy a car. Yes, I still couldn’t drive but I wanted a car. Being a self-sustained, strong and independent woman, one who couldn’t afford to buy a Mini Cooper, I settled for an adorable Swift.
But what good was a car that wasn’t being driven?
My car sat in the basement for three months before the battery died and then, once again I burst into tears.
This time, I woke up with another life-altering plan…
I WAS GOING TO DRIVE MY DAMN CAR.
For three months, a new driver patiently taught me how to drive to and from work.
Everything was rosy again: I had nice shiny tyres (thank you, daddy) a car that smelt of plastic heaven, a stereo that played some sweet music and a cute face that made sexist oafs ask me if my father bought me my car.
It’s been three years now since I started driving. I was no 18-year-old who was excited to get to places, I was a 20-something, who was tired of arguing with autorickshaw drivers and a little tired of relying on people to pick me up from work.
For now, I have many more miles to go… because I just refueled my car.