The year was 1960. Horns roared in her wake and the honkers swore incredulously. Swerving through the curving roads, she drove on unabashedly. At first she couldn’t understand why all these strangers were so antagonistic to her. She quickly checked her reflection in the mirror to make sure she was wearing clothes. All this open-mouthed gawking took her back to the adolescent nightmare of walking into school naked. Her eyes next swiveled to the dashboard – had she left an indicator on again? (she did tend to do that sometimes. Her father always scolded her for it) No, she hadn’t! Her seatbelt was firmly fixed across her body, her vehicle wasn’t covered with pornographic graffiti, she was driving in her lane and following all traffic lights – everything was perfect. Smirking, with a narrowly rescued confidence, she vroomed ahead and turned to left.
Like the wavering of a severely untuned voice, her confidence began to plummet again. People climbed half way out of their car windows just to say incredibly rude things to her; none of which she would comprehend over the collective tumult of their unwanted comments. When her frightful eyes were met with only bewildered and angry stares, she wanted to vanish from the spot instantly. But somewhere in the back of her mind, an observation launched her mind into some ultra-rapid thinking – men. She registered how she was just another female driver who was being demeaned for no apparent reason by the men around her. Realizations began to trickle down and conclusions were cemented into embankments to save herself from the torrents of patriarchal hate swelling around her. The steering wheel was no more a mere steering wheel but her flaming torch of rebellion. The shiny pedals and throttles were her weapons in this primeval quest for emancipation. And she was to drive ahead, no, soar ahead; not just to reach her son’s school on time but to impress the sheer abundance of her capability upon the minds of all the pithy misogynists gawping at her. Like any moment of exhilarated inspiration, she too had images flashing by her mind with increasing tempo. A raucous father spewing his opinions on an unusually silent mother. A twin brother whose football games took precedence over her ballet recitals. A set of grandparents who indifferently gifted her the same ugly doll for thirteen years. Boys who wouldn’t ask her to prom because she was too tall. Boyfriends who couldn’t pay attention. Bosses who recognized her by everything but her name or face. Fiances who mistakenly, innocently, slipped on the proverbial banana peel and fell into the bed with her sister just the night before their wedding.
She had had enough.
Mustering the might of the plight of an entire breed of chromosomal variation, she watched the speedometer needle crazily swerve from one end to another before releasing the brakes. With a thunderous raise her wheels snapped into action, only to halt abruptly the next moment. She shook back and forth in her seat rather ungracefully and her hair fell all over her face. Brushing them away from her eyes, she surreptitiously glanced at the roaring crowd around her. With a defeated sigh she turned the engine on again, and carefully set her drive in motion. It seemed like a difficult day to drive airplanes on the roads of Delhi.
(Featured Image courtesy: Tatsuya Ishida. Check out the website: http://www.sinfest.net/index.php. It’s the best thing I’ve seen since Calvin&Hobbes)