We had just shifted to Mumbai from a small town after my eighth grade and I had no friends to hang out with. It was summer vacations and I was dead bored before the end of the second week.
On Saturday my father was to go out of city for work and he wasn’t going to be back until Sunday night. But the best part was he wasn’t taking his car and I was all excited to try my hands again on that car. I had already driven that car successfully once before (Just first gear and reverse to be honest, a few feet forward and backward… 🙂 ) and I was all set to try again. (Well I knew the theory, besides I could ride a motorcycle so how hard it could be? Or so I thought.)
My father left on Saturday afternoon but I dare not sneak out before dark and I could have sworn the sun wasn’t moving accurately that day.
So after waiting a little late after dinner, I took my dog for a walk around eleven O’clock with the car keys safely in my pocket and headed straight for the car. Luckily our new home was on fourth floor and the place where car was parked wasn’t observable from any of our windows. I unlocked the Car and directed my dog to the back seat. He settled there and I started the car with quivering hands.
I shifted the gear into first, waited, and slowly released the clutch. It was a weekend so very few cars were parked around. Once in motion; I released the clutch and didn’t accelerate. Car stayed in one steady speed and I hung on only to the steering wheel but promptly I realized; that was the hardest part, steering. The street was straight up to the square of our new housing colony and there were two gates on both ends of the cross road and straight from the square was a temple. Though the road was straight; I was having a hard time keeping car steady.
At the square I turned left without breaking, wobbling the car perilously, and steadied with a little difficulty and no sooner than I steadied the car a cat came trotting on the road in front of me. I was so preoccupied in keeping my car on road I pushed my foot on accelerator instead of break. The cat dashed away, missing by an inch. I was shaken still I wanted to go ahead, and I did. I headed straight to the gate two and turned right at same speed. I was getting better already. This street was always deserted and if I turned right at next lane I would head for the main road on the other side and then get back home through gate one. But before my turn there came another trouble. A truck and a van were parked parallel on both sides of road and I wasn’t at all sure if I could get my car through them unscratched. I didn’t even thought of breaking and just let the car glide away. When I was across the narrow gap without a scratch on car I was stiff and my heart was hammering against my ribs.
I was still shaking when I turned right and reached the main road on the other side. Here I finally used the brakes and stopped the car. There were hardly any vehicles on road. I waited to let my heart calm down and then slowly turned right when road was clear. Turned right again at gate one without turn indicator and ‘noticed’ a man walking in the middle of the road just inside the gate. I panicked and again hit the accelerator, but released immediately and honked, only two feet behind him. He jumped aside and I heard him swear before passing.
When I finally returned to the parking spot I still had a job of turning the car around which seemed more than impossible.
I parked the car facing the opposite direction as it was and prayed my father wouldn’t notice.