The end of the school day routine was the most joyous part of my day.
Read time: less just over a min.
My dad would pick me up every day after school in his 1952 classic black Italian Fiat 1100, and we would stop at my favourite soda place. I would slurp my favourite raw mango soda to the last drop and munch on a bag of peanuts all the way home. This was my typical five days a week for a few years until my (over-protective) mum was ready to trust the school bus.
The daily routine then became an occasional treat. I didn’t realize that I was also getting something more out of those trips besides the treat. I would imagine driving the car from the back of the seat. I would imitate the sound of the smooth cranking start of the car, then the gulping sound it made shifting it to the first gear, and finally, the roaring sound of the speeding car.
It may sound cocky, but it’s true. I learnt to drive just by watching my dad drive every day. He would allow me to start the car and shift the stick to the first gear (he, of course, managed the clutch). Gradually, I learnt to shift all four gears with agility without the cranking transmission sound – a sign of a professional driver.
The first time I drove a car was at the age of 13.
Here’s how it happened.
At around 9:30 pm, after my dad had settled and ready to retire to bed, I sneaked the car keys and drove the car to some distance successfully.in was in the drivers’ seat, confident and proud.
I had driven a couple of blocks and was now ready to return. On taking the u-turn, I miss-judged the distance and scraped a bit of the left front door. I panicked. I felt the scraping sound but wasn’t brave enough to stop and check for the damage done. Somehow, I wheeled back and parked the car in the original spot.
Two things had changed since I took the car for a spin. There was a scratch, and second, unknowingly, I had parked the car facing in the opposite direction than when it was before.
It was an easy give-away. The car had moved, so the scratch was not from another passing car. I was done.
The following day went about usually. Nothing happened. No, nothing happened.
However, subtle retribution made the car key beyond my reach for some time, but it allowed me to reach a self-lesson many years later.
Not having caught, I somehow had thought then that I smartly outwitted everyone at home. After many years, I realized that my dad learnt about the incident (courtesy of some friendly neighbours), but instead of being punished, they tolerated and accepted my mistake.
I made several rookie mistakes in my life (and still do), and at every stage, someone was far more tolerant and forgiving than I would have been in their place. Those layered missteps continue to be the building blocks of what I am today.
Life is full of mistakes. What we do with those missteps defines more than just character.
Now and then, I wonder that today didn’t go exactly as planned. Is it frustrating? You bet. Is it uncertain? Most definitely. The important thing is that life goes on. It may not go as we planned it, but it goes on nonetheless. The only thing we know for sure is that we can never judge the future by our past. The past is where we made our mistakes. The present is where we made mends and move on.
Thank you for sharing some of your precious time with me each week. Leave a comment if you liked it.
With gratitude, until next week.