Wednesday, March 20, 2024

My First Love

Ah, the sweetness of #firstlove! The fluttering hearts, butterflies in the stomach, the rosy cheeks, and the shy glances—except mine wasn't a typical love story. No, my heart belonged to something on wheels, something that whispered promises of pride: "My First Car". They say #lifepartners are meant to travel the journey together, but here is my life partner: my car, truly my #travelpartner.

In 2010, in my small town of Erode, seeing a woman behind the wheel was as rare as spotting a ghost—utterly non-existent. Yet, I made the decision because I couldn't bear to see my dad commuting by bus or two-wheeler anymore. And so, the quest for a car commenced. 

Those days Chevrolet Sparks were everywhere, with those cute ads blinking on TV. But they were too pricey for me. I went for the Tata Nano—small, affordable, and perfect for the roads. However, dad was skeptical, comparing it to an auto-rickshaw. Then, there was Maruti, safe and secure like a government job. Yet, I hesitated, remembering my sister's wedding gift Maruti Alto.

So, the search for the perfect car continued. We scoured through various brands until we stumbled upon Hyundai's showroom. And there he was—the Eon, with his stylish body shape and irresistible charm.

Took a test drive, instantly fell in love, and made my mind: he's going to be mine. I felt a connection and knew we were meant to be together.

At 3.58 lakh, it was a hefty sum for a young woman like me. Pulled together all my savings from those many years and made the decision to bring him home. I'll never forget the sheer joy plastered across my face as I embarked on my trip with Mom and Dad by my side. That car wasn't just a mode of transportation; it was my emotions.  

Every single week, I would travel back to Bangalore, leaving my man behind, much like a man who leaves his family for work. I left him, promising that I would be back soon. Meanwhile, my dad would diligently clean the car every single day to keep it spotless. My cousin Sanju, who was just 2 years old at the time and adored cars, would eagerly take off his shirt and offer it to clean the car. 

Not a single scratch, not a single mistake—every time I took the car out, it took care of me. We attended weddings together, embarked on temple trips to Pollachi, and even spent a week at a farm alongside him. It felt like the car was the fourth member of our family. So many cherished memories, including that unforgettable drive through the hills of Ooty. 

Wait, wait, I almost forgot about the naming ceremony! It was the tradition in those days, we used to paste all our family names, including maternal, paternal, and sisternal names, on the car. You could leave someone's name off the marriage invitation, but you couldn't miss anyone's name on the car; But Well, Instead of names, I adorned it with a sticker declaring "I love my dad and mom" on the car. It's like a tattoo projecting my love for it.

I won't bore much with the mushy details of my love and emotions—all I could say is it's so close to my heart. 

***Intermission ***

I tied the knot, and like every love story, a villain appeared in the form of BOY BESTIE my husband, ready to give a twist, shake, and brake to the love story that started so many years ago. He always had a soft spot for my car because it was cute, small, and compact—a city dweller's dream. While I preferred to keep my love cruising at a modest 60 km/h, he had other plans, revving it up to a wild 120! Every time he presses the accelerator beyond 100, I would feel like he's trying to pull my heart out. He would always take it on bumpy roads, put sudden breaks, leaving my poor car with pain, and then he have the audacity to claim, "I'm handling it better than you😄!"

Life moved on, and I found out I was pregnant, but before I could even show him the pregnancy test results, he took away my car keys, declaring it unsafe for me to drive. "You'll vomit, get dizzy—not safe," he'd say. A first shock! Like a true BOY BESTIE besides, he was doing his job. 

After that, I had a child, and for the next three years, he insisted, "No, let the boy grow, no more driving." For almost four years, I couldn't touch my car, and in frustration, feeling disconnected from my love for so long, I suggested selling my Eon, but deep down, I didn't mean it. The very next day, a man was waiting with my husband, ready to take my beloved car away. I reluctantly signed the papers for selling and name transfer. My love was taken away without a second look, and the pain I endured is indescribable. Sometimes our love story shatters in a single moment, and no matter how much we wish, it cannot be reverse and life rolled on.

Now, after many years, the discussion of a compact car arose again, and with it, memories of my first love story flooded back. Many years have passed, yet I still cannot forget my Eon—it's more than just a car to me. No one knows the depth of what I went through. 

We visited numerous showrooms and explored various car options. With each car, I found some ridiculous reason to reject, just like the simple excuses we use to dismiss potential suitors during bride-seeing ceremonies—no mustache, too fair, his name is too name it! My reasons for rejecting cars were: it's too big, not stylish enough, doesn't have that girly vibe. 

Oh, then I was practically forced into this marriage with my car. I mean, forced to stick to this KWID. Look at Mr. Climber over there, he looks seriously <BEEP BEEP CENSORED>! He couldn't stand next to my Eon even if he tried!I wasn't ready to imagine anything coming close to what my Eon means to me. "You were my first love, I can't have anyone in your place," I silently whispered.

Just like a forced marriage where we whisper, "Dai, don't tie the knot, don't tie the knot!" There he is, tying my knot of marriage over. Well, I meant I paid an advance for Renault KWID, a month ago. 

But I really did not like him. I know I can't take it anymore; broken is broken, shatter is shatter. I firmly decided I don’t need KWID. I declined, realizing I didn't need it, and moved on. Yes, a car is an emotion for a few, especially when it brings such profound feelings for you and your family. When I was alone, it traveled with me, a faithful companion on my life's journey. For me, the Eon isn't just a car; it was my love and will be love, my trusted companion on the road(Journey) of life.

Yes, we all have these first loves—be it people, houses, cars, or jobs—that remain unfulfilled due to family situations or other circumstances. They leave an indelible mark on our hearts, shaping our memories and experiences for years to come. But the pain we carry remains hidden because, as they say, life moves on.  

Wednesday, March 13, 2024

Strength Behind the Tears

In a world where strong women are admired for their resilience and ability to tackle challenges, it's easy to forget that they too have emotions that run deep. 

So, I recently had a chance to play cricket tournament where having one woman in a team was a must and the first over was handed to the women.

First ball, first over, I swung my bat with Dhoni-like confidence, but the ball dint fly like a rocket for boundaries. So, I started running, but gravity had other plans, and I found myself kissing the ground. The opponents, displaying true sportsmanship, chose not to throw the ball at the stumps, sparing me from run out.

My knee was in pain, yet I played the remaining five balls, determined not to give up. As I stepped out of the ground, I noticed my torn pant. "Well, torn pants are trendsetters," I thought, lifting it to inspect my knee. To my shock, I discovered a sizable wound accompanied by a splash of blood.

Upon noticing my injury, the team captain promptly called for first aid, and a person with a box emerged. Before I could scream out my pain, the captain and those around me said, 'What a brave, strong woman!'

The notion of being a strong woman echoed in my mind and I concealed the pain behind a mask, casually stating, 'Oh, just a scratch, no big deal.' Yet, in reality, it hurt like hell. 

Questioning whether this act qualifies as strength, I pondered. The pain was real, but I hid it well. Am I truly a strong woman? Who's to say?

Enduring a week of pain and limping, I made sure no one noticed my limping and pain. As strong women, we become masters of hiding our pain. But there are moments when that strength shatters us to the core and sometimes, the burden becomes too heavy to carry alone.

Today marked a different chapter – a trip to the hospital all by myself. Absolutely, being strong is admirable, but in the hospital, where vulnerability is unavoidable, having someone by your side makes all the difference. 

Multiple injections and a small surgery left me in pain. Feeling a bit dizzy while driving back home after anesthesia, I question whether to blame myself for projecting strength to those around me or if I was a fool for not expressing my vulnerability.

As the anesthesia wore off, the pain from the surgery resurfaced. However, what hurt even more was the loneliness within the hospital walls. But what truly stung was the realization that people often perceive strong women as unstoppable, neglecting the love and care we silently crave.

Being a strong woman doesn't mean we don't need love and care; even the strongest souls yearn for compassion.