An Obituary – My Car

Finally, I sold my car, but reluctantly. My wife had been giving me subtle hints that I was holding onto the rusting piece for longer than I should. As the car aged and rattled, her hints also got louder and less subtle. I complained that a certain Rajnikant still drives his old car and that is seen as a symbol of humility, but when I hold onto my car, despite it being of much recent vintage than his, that is seen as stingy. I would argue that the thought of parting with my ageing car feels like I am abandoning an old member of my family. But such dramatic arguments were met with incredulous and discouraging looks. Finally it wasn’t just my choice to make.

It was my first car. I was pushed into buy it, otherwise I would have kept riding my bike into the infinite sunsets. I was getting married, and it again wasn’t just my choice to make, I mean the decision to buy the car. It was my first big purchase. Till then most of my possessions could be packed into a backpack and I could head-off to where ever I wanted to go – not that I was going anywhere that much, but that idea of being a traveller was my assumed identity. Buying the car broke that illusion, as I got locked into the capitalist system with my first big EMI – and dare I admit, there was no looking back given all the loans I have clocked up since then.

End of a Journey

The Final Journey

This was my first big purchase, and I agonised over the decision a lot. Maybe at that time I didn’t have enough faith in my own choices and was highly susceptible to external opinion, and I probably overcompensated for it. Car is the ultimate symbol of who you are –  something that announces to the world that you are on your way, or that you have arrived. It has gone beyond the mere utility value of it, like most things that we use – I am not particularly proud of what we marketers have done to screw with the minds of this world. My symbolic rebellion against such social pressure was to not buy the most popular choice in that car segment. I refused to buy into the perceptions built around the external packaging of an internal combustion engine. Ice breakers with strangers would become – ‘An american car? really?’ and I would defend my Choice of Ford Fiesta on the tech specs and the ride quality.

Buying it was a coming-of-age moment for me. To own a car, the first car, was to be free. I formed a new relationship with the highways and the countryside. The world slowed down as i sped along the highway, and life and all its concerns were reduced to just the highway. It was the ultimate stress buster. Many adventures ensued. The impulsive drives were now possible, and the long weekend, which would otherwise have been another weekend with an additional day, turned into mini-vacations.

The car had a certain personality to it. It wasn’t seeking attention, it wasn’t fussy, and would just do its job. There were some dangerously close shaves as I clocked up those kilometres, but it protected us, at the cost of sacrificing a bit of its own sheen. The thoughtfulness of its design never lost its charm for me, right down to the way the indicators were programmed to light up to indicate that something needed attention.

As it aged, it started to break down a bit more often. The monsoons would make it cough on ignition, like it had a cold bug, which was diagnosed as a progressive organ failure – its ignition coil. On the second day of buying it, a rat had made the engine its home, and cut away some electrical wires to make the rat-nest more cozy, but the repairs were negligible compared to the towing charges. It never put me in a serious spot, even though I sometimes pushed its limits – like when I ran out of petrol on the Bandra-sea-link, thinking that I could reach the next petrol pump, twice. Even if it did chose to break down, help was usually near. It had some grace even in its breakdowns.

I got a better price than expected from an unknown bidder on a car selling portal. It’s next destination is unknown to me, but I know that the end will not be too gentle, and it will be worked to death. I know it is an absurd fixation to have for an inanimate object, but I feel just a touch sentimental letting it go.

I wonder what story it would tell about me, being a witness to so much of my life. My emotions probably left some molecular imprint on that engine because of the way I drove each day depending on how I was feeling. It probably knows me more intimately than anyone else.

I wish it well on its final journey…

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  1. tirath says:

    haha.. hilarious read 🙂
    all the best with your new car.

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