It is totally unlike me to fall in love with a machine. Even if it was one that came on wheels. I was just twelve when I fell in love with the Beetle. My brother had taken me to watch The Love Bug and I was absolutely smitten by Herbie. But it just stayed a dream. When I got married, I learnt that my husband was a fan too and I just knew that we’d make a cozy threesome. Read on:
Years later, after our move to the US, when the time came for me to get a car, there was no research or shopping around. I knew what I was getting. My baby came into my life on June 18th 2008, an early anniversary gift. Cute, cozy, huggable, distinct and absolutely striking in Gecko Green. I called her Tinker Bell.
Since then, she and I became inseparable and the few occasions when I have had to drive my husband’s car, I never really felt at home behind the wheel. With Tinker Bell, I just belonged there. I felt at home, rolling away like a roly-poly bug along the roads of Cary, during my shuttling services of chauffeuring the kids, grocery shopping or just dropping in to see a friend. Sometimes she and I just took off on a drive, on mornings soon after spring rains, when the world was scrubbed clean and the new leaves glistened on the trees like her own green coat.
She and I have had some adventures together, and locked within those two doors are myriad memories – happy, sad, quirky, funny and scary. But all of them special. Like the time I once had to squeeze in four kids in the tiny space in the back row for a short quick ride and saw someone’s eyes pop out watching the kids climb out one by one. The umpteen times my daughter swore she’d rather walk than have me drive her because that was faster. The several times I got lost and had to pull over to find where I was on my phone’s Google map. My terror the first time (and the following times) I drove in the rain and the windshield got all fogged up and I fumbled trying to turn the heater on. The endless waits in car pool lanes. Picking my sister up from the airport and driving her home and giving her, her first glimpse of America. The panic when a police car followed me, lights flashing and sirens wailing. And weekly drives to the temple with a dear friend.
I identified with the car in so many ways. It was the perfect Aquarian car and I enjoyed the distinctive feeling that it gave me. I had always wanted to stand apart from the crowd. People asked me if the blind spots did not bother me (reviewers often cite the quite bothersome blind spots causing a safety hazard, as a negative feature of the car); but honestly it did not. That’s what I mean when I say the car was made for me. My height (or rather lack of it) was perfect for it. I tackled the blind spots effortlessly. And felt that I was in control unlike with other cars, which I always felt, controlled me.
Except for the one small stigma against its name, that it was designed on Hitler’s orders as the ‘people’s car’ or ‘Volkswagen’, which my daughter loved using to irritate me. “So Amma, how does it feel to drive the car designed for someone with the blood of six million on his hands?” Truth be told, that did bother me. But then, it’s not my baby’s fault. Anyways, it was just an outpouring of sibling rivalry. My kids always thought I was partial to Tinker Bell.
Last Sunday, on July 8th, after four years of a dream run, I bid good-bye to Tinker Bell. It was heart wrenching and I literally left the place in tears. Someday I will probably run into her (wrong choice of words) see her on the roads around here. But then, she’ll be someone else’s baby and the thought simply kills me.
I still find myself getting out of the car I drive now and turn around to pull down the seat so that my kids in the back seat can get out. And then I stop with an aching realization. I am not driving Tinker Bell anymore and this one has four doors.
There are things in life you need to let go. I know that bidding good-bye to a car is no big deal. People bid good-bye to bigger things – like people they love. But then, Tinker Bell was my baby and I miss her and the cozy comfort, confidence and warmth that she gave me.
But I have to let go. And some of the memories too…