..In with the new seems to be the order of the day, does’nt it? For everyone except me that is. Me, I cling to the old- tried, tested and comfortable-even after it ceases to be comfortable. And weep tears of sorrow when it is taken away from me.
Circa 2003. One year after our marriage and 6 months into my first job, I got very, very tired of going around Bangalore without a vehicle. Since amma and appa flatly refused to let me ride my two-wheeler in ‘crazy Bangalore traffic’, there really was only one option. ‘Let’s buy a car baby’, I told the husband. ‘We have no money’, the man said succinctly. ‘No problem, let’s not buy anything fancy…something really basic would do’. And it was as basic as it got.
Our first car was a second hand 3 year old Maruti 800. Appa came from Coimbatore to work out a loan for us (yes, yes, that’s how much broke we were. We had to take a loan to buy a second-hand M800 which we repaid over the next 3 years!!). But we had our own, our very own car! No more filching daddy’s car. We could do what we pleased with it.
I did not even have a driver’s license when I started driving her. She was small, easy to manage and I had no fears or qualms about driving her anywhere. There is’nt a single road, lane or by-lane to which I have not taken my beloved car. She would dutifully oblige, turning and twisting and maneuvering herself into narrow parking lots and wait patiently under sun and shine, hail and storm as I went around.
When we first bought our car, we lived in a house which did not even have a parking lot. Three houses, each consecutively bigger, and 5 years later, we still drove the same car. This was the car kuttan came home in. This was the car which had sticky candy, gift wrapper and water bottles strewn all over the back seat. Where the seats contained scruff marks of tiny booted feet. And none of it bothered us too much because it was old and comfortable and we did not fuss too much about keeping it in tip-top shape.
Our friends had moved on to snazzier, bigger cars and we were the object of much leg-pulling and laughter on account of the car we drove. We took it all in our stride but I stood firm. ‘No new car. This is doing just fine.’ When the husband would talk about some new car taking the market by the storm, I would hear him vaguely, my mind elsewhere, not really believing I would ever drive anything else.
Then, after 9 years of existence, 6 with us, the old girl started giving trouble. She would stop bang in the middle of the road. She would not start. The repair costs were mounting. And so, after a lot of thought, we gave away our first car and brought home a new car last month. I bade farewell sadly as they drove my beloved little car out the garage, knowing she gave me the kind of freedom and mobility that I would never experience again.
Boys will be boys. And men will be boys too. The man and the boy in my life are totally taken with the sexy, bold woman in their lives. ‘Look at the alloy wheels. Look at the engine power and the pickup’, the man gushes. ‘Look at the windows rolling down on their own. Look at the beautiful seats, amma’, the boy squawks, clapping his hands with glee. I nod my head and smile sadly, all the while missing the comfort of my torn seats and the slow, steady sound she would make as she sleepily started.
I refused to drive the new car for a month. Because I still missed my old car and because this one was too big, too new for my comfort. Finally, for practical reasons and urged and tormented endlessly by the husband, I drove her last week. Driving my old car felt like talking to my spinster aunt. She was slow, comforting, easily controlled. I could count on her never to want to run away from me. This new one was like a headstrong, sexy young girl. Sure of her powers and attraction and her place in my man’s heart. Taunting me, challenging me, chafing against the tight leash I put on her, wanting to release all the barely controlled energy and fly.
I may become friends with my new car. She may gentle against my control with time and learn to take my instructions more obligingly. Maybe it’s just a matter of time…but till then, I don’t like her. I don’t like her at all.