I suppose I should be sentimental. This week we traded in my very first car for something newer. I bought or rather Saathi bought me my first car a little before I turned 30. I spent all of my teens and twenties taking autos and cabs because I had debilitating road fear and I never learned to drive. Shortly after I got married and all of my new friends were surprised I did not drive, I mustered up enough courage to ask Saathi to teach me.
He taught me for four long years. We started in a local college parking lot early weekend mornings. The lots were empty and not a soul was around. It was slow going. I graduated from parking lots to empty roads and eventually single lane roads. The merging onto highways was the last frontier. He taught me in his trusty Honda Civic, a cypress green box of a car. I learned to drive without footwear, relying on my feet to read the pressure and the road.
I failed my first driving test. I stopped for too long a light that did not have a no turn on red sign. I waited a couple of weeks and took the test again. This time I passed. I was still content to let Saathi drive us around if we went anywhere together. I also learned to drop him at work and drive myself ten miles away. Then I found myself a job that meant about an hours drive.
We bought our Prius home one April. I caressed her frame before I got in. I wore sunglasses and zipped through the fairly empty highways early in the morning. I played CDs on repeat and sung at the top of my voice. I danced in my seat and almost always got off the car feeling pleased I made it without a hitch. To me, my first car is synonymous with me discovering myself as a person. I discovered music that was mine only. I loved listening to eclectic stations on the radio. I had animated conversations while I drove my earphones standing in for a passenger next to me.
I drove before sunlight to the gym. I drove 40 miles each way for blood tests with my reproductive endocrinologist. I broke down sobbing as I drove when my first IVF failed. I pulled over sensibly the next time it happened. The Prius was my cocoon. I left my emotions behind when I walked in the door to my work. I sought refuge some afternoons when the world seemed too much. I fantasied driving off the road, off the railing and ending it all when the pain was unbearable.
It was in my car that Saathi and I learned we were to be parents. We brought our children home in her. Ammu and Pattu christened her Pria and would climb into the boot to play. The Odyssey became our family car and I worked from home and at some point Saathi adopted her, driving her back and forth and wondering how good the mileage was.
In the fourteen odd years, she has been with us, she has been untainted. Not a scratch, not one breakdown except when she gave up and breathed her last. She sits in a dealership today waiting for me to visit her one last time. To bid adieu, to caress her one last time. To pay homage and submit in gratitude to the one who has seen me through thick and thin.
You will be missed Pria.