As far as I can remember I’ve never been a morning person, much to the mother’s dismay. But that is slowly changing. I’m beginning to discover the joys of an early start. Cooler mornings, fewer people on the road, lesser crowds at the station. But mostly, I look forward to a ten-minute ride to the station with the father.
It is a sort of detour for him, but he doesn’t complain. All he insists is that I be on time. It is the few moments of the day when I can have him all to myself. He will ask me about my work, we’ll exchange family gossip, I’ll complain about the mother.
The strongest memories I have of him are him behind the wheel. Ferrying us back home from the nani’s house, taking us out for our weekly dinner outing, dropping me off to boarding school. Cars are his weakness. His toys.
I’ve also had some of my best conversations with him, while he has been driving. Chatty banter, nuggets of advice and sometimes, a glimpse into his mind. He will talk about his father, a man I largely saw through his eyes; his voice, dripping with admiration, respect and adoration.
I had missed my grandfather’s funeral and often wondered how my father had responded to his death. Five years later, I’m yet to piece the whole picture but what little I know, I’ve gleaned from our conversations in the car. Like the time we discussed alcohol and he described my Babaji as a connoisseur. I suggested getting rid (read consume) of the extra bottles, he said that these were the few memories he had of him and wanted to preserve them.
In another candid moment, the father advised me on handling people with care and cordiality. That nobody needed to know what I thought of them, just that I should learn to decline with tact and diplomacy.
He drives with utmost care, precision and patience, just like he does everything else. While he is a man of few words, he never fails to flaunt the fact that he has driven from one end of the city to another without honking even once.
Our early weekday morning rendezvous are our respite from the world. When I’m mostly reveling in the fact that I’ve woken up and gotten ready on time, fervently hoping that he is smiling within. He is at his most attentive. I’m at my most receptive. And then we go our separate ways to tackle the day.