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The day our son learnt to drive
Kishore Singh |
June 21, 2005
ow that there is an 18-year old in the house whose legitimate right to drive can no longer be questioned, we don't know whether to be relieved or devastated by this turn in our fortunes.
At least he won't need to set up secret midnight trysts to go out driving with friends in the middle of the night on the busy highway next door.
On the other hand, he is allowed by law to do so at any time of day or night on the same road, which is infinitely more scary.
In the two weeks since he has come of age, so to speak, he has taken an increased interest in our domestic needs.
Did we need bread? He would just hop over to the grocer and fetch us a loaf. Did we want clothes sent to the dry cleaner? Or fetched?
Surely, he would ask, there were errands to be run -- to the bank or the post office? Why, he would even stand in a queue to pay the electricity or telephone bills.
"Our son is growing up into a responsible young man," his mother bristled with pride.
"He's turning into a lout who wants to spend his time on Delhi's roads," I snapped at her.
"I don't understand why you are saying such things," she retorted, "just because he is taking an interest in the house."
"All he is interested in is finding an excuse to borrow the car so he has a reason to drive around, even if it is to go to the market, which is no more than two minutes walk from home."
Over the first week, our son fetched and carried. Suitcases or shoes that needed to be repaired were carted off to the cobbler. The cook's demands for atta and chawal were swiftly met.
He went to the tailor, the appliance repair store, the person who framed our pictures; he was agreeable to any task that required him to drive, and some others that didn't, such as fetching the ironed clothes from the presswallah in the car (despite the arrangement for them to be delivered home).
He even treated us to ice-cream -- at his own expense -- so long as he was able to zip in and out in the car.
By the second week, his interest was beginning to wane.
"I want you to get me some cucumbers and tomatoes for a salad," my wife told him.
However, when he returned, he was asked to take them back and change them, since what the vegetable seller had given was over-ripe.
"I didn't know I was supposed to check their freshness," he grumbled, when ticked off by his mother.
Barely had he returned when she realised she wanted a watermelon, too.
"Can't you send me somewhere more posh," asked our son, "instead of having to buy vegetables at Mother Dairy?"
Of course, he hadn't paid any attention to the fruit, and was promptly sent back to have it changed, too.
Then my wife decided that now that our son drove, she would no longer have to take our daughter to the tuition class.
"I don't minding driving her for her classes," my son complained, "but why am I not allowed to take the car for my tuition class as well?"
"Because that would make you look like a spoilt child, so you must walk to your class," explained his mother.
"Then why can't my sister walk to her class too?" he asked.
"Because you're there to drop and fetch her," explained my wife.
"I think," said my son, after considered thought, "I was better off when I didn't have to drive, since all I seem to be doing now is running errands, instead of studying, which I hope you will let me do uninterrupted from now on."