When I dated her, I swore that I will make her drive a truck one day. It was almost like a mission I had taken up with a lot of conviction in the dictum "anyone can do anything." In my case, this anyone was someone who had forgotten to ride a bicycle, so you can guess the gradient of this uphill task. Cycling and swimming are things you never forget, and this anyone in question had forgotten the former and never learnt the latter even after two floral costumes and gallons of chlorinated water in her system. To make her drive a truck? Hopeless. Some literature students also mentioned that I will be left hapless, a word am yet to find the meaning of.
The first car came and went after four years. She never tried it. The second one was a relatively new jeep, which she tried driving a couple of times. She managed pretty well given the jeep's steering sends you zero feedback about the road and the brakes lend you no confidence at all. I was getting hopeful that one day from the jeep she will graduate to a truck. I was proving people wrong and would take videos of her at the helm, with the jeep doing most of the driving. Driving this jeep is like taking your St Bernard out to walk and letting him take control of you, so sometimes I wondered if she was driving at all or just sitting there, pretending to.
But she was the driver indeed, as all her four licenses (from four different Indian states) stated with authority. It is criminal to have more than one license in this country, but you can have as many as you like. This probably explains why she makes a U-turn every time there's a cop on the road. Once at this junction the traffic lights weren't working and the cop was managing the traffic. When he gestured towards us, she made a sudden U-turn, pushed the smallish car in the right lane onto the median, and sped back towards home. I realized most of our weekend outings would go waste if all we did was to go a certain distance and turn back because there were cops on the road. I took over. And she went to the passenger side.
Our child, who watches most of his classmates being ferried from home by their driving moms, was waiting to show off a jeep-driving mom, but that was not to be. Using the cops as an excuse, she gradually forgot to drive, like she forgot how to ride a bicycle. Unbelievable, but true. I tried reasoning that we should keep only the local license in the jeep and put the rest in the locker, but her fear of cops probably has something to do with her being a criminal in her past life, as her mother poignantly observed from the rear seat.
Meanwhile, people from the past, who had pitied me for having taken up such an impossible task, started showing up on various social networks. Some were fat, some were beautiful, some divorced, some married multiple times, and they were all suddenly curious (after having found me in the virtual world), how I was doing as far as buying a truck was concerned. I argued for a while that a jeep can also be called a truck, but that was what we had initially settled for years back when a truck meant a lorry.
I was generally burnt out with all this drivery I had to do and one fine day just dragged her to a car showroom and made her buy a car. The smallest available because she had forgotten how to handle the breadth of the jeep and wanted to start with a small car. Easy on the pocket in the long run, frugal, and peppy, so we were generally happy. Although it was a step backward (jeep > truck being the logical progression), I welcomed it with open arms. Finally someone is going to share some of the burden of driving and she can soon move from the small one to the jeep to eventually a truck. And then I will show my Facebook friends what a gentleman's promise really means. And she started driving.
First with a lot of trepidation, seat pulled to the front, eyes glued to the road, one foot on the clutch, one hand on the gearknob, one husband by her side. The husband in turn had one hand on the handbrake and the other held outside the window to warn all the other vehicles of a potential disaster. But gradually the husband learnt to relax and even breathe at times. One hand came in and the other one came off the handbrake. She moved from one gear to another, and settled for an optimal third, which can take you everywhere inside Bangalore pretty quickly.
All this while the little one was watching this progress from the rear seat. And yesterday when she did a 30 km stretch through relatively crowded roads from the south to the north of Bangalore, he decided to make a suggestion about how to handle the impatient, honking drivers behind you.
"You have to have the confidence of a cow, mamma."
"A cow?" I could almost see her eyebrows taking on this weird shape at this bovine hint. "What do you mean?"
"A cow, simply. What else? Haven't you seen how they don't budge from the road even if you honk? That's confidence. You should also ignore those guys honking behind you. Just like a cow."