I did it! Unbelievable, but I did! I crashed my car under two weeks of participating in a car rally. A car rally which was meant to boost my confidence behind the wheels.
For the most part, it was my bad, I admit. But I can’t help feeling that it was his fault too. Thankfully since it was a blind turn on narrow lanes, we were both quite slow and the collision resulted in minor batters on both cars. After assuring myself that all 3 children in my car were unhurt, I got down to apologize. The man in the other car (a Honda City) also got down and was furious with me. Since we were both on our way to drop children to their school, I gave him my cellphone number so that we can discuss the settlement later.
Back in the car, I tried to put up a brave face, but the kids sensed that I was upset. And just like that, out of the blue, one at a time, they started narrating stories of how their mother or relative or some driver ‘bhaiyya’ had crashed their cars. All stories had a funny twist to it and they all laughed out to loud at the end of each, in their efforts to make me feel better. The intent of what they were doing was such a pleasure, so touching – that it made me wonder how kids are so emotionally intelligent, non-judgemental, and guileless. And why do these qualities disappear when they grow up? Kids are such a breath of freshness in this otherwise suffocating adult world.
While driving back home from school, I missed a couple of calls from the guy. Once I reached home I saw a threatening message, to which I responded politely as it wasn’t my intention to not pay for the damages. Though I was dearly hoping that it wouldn’t cost us too much. As if not contributing much, financially, to the household doesn’t kill me enough – and now this out of turn (possibly big) expense…
After discussing with Pratim, we met Mr Honda (let’s call him that to maintain anonymity) and mutually agreed to take his car, to a service center. Once there, then between car inspections, paperwork, cost estimates and the such other works – I began talking to Mr Honda. Despite the awkwardness of the situation, I could tell that he was impressed by my forthrightness in owning up to my mistake. In turn we also found him to be a reasonable man, unlike my first impression of him when he was furious with me over the accident. In due course, while waiting for the sluggish insurance workflow, we discussed politics, life in Sweden (his work takes him there every few months), our times in the Philippines, and even some Rakhi Sawant and Alok Nath jokes.
We also learned that he had Navratre Puja at his house earlier that morning and I blurted that there must be poori, chana and halwa for lunch. Then we joked about having lunch at his house, and at once, he invited us without a moment’s hesitation. On a day, when his car had crashed, he had to push out important meetings at work, he was calling home folks who had caused all the trouble! Awkwardly, reluctantly, we accepted the invite we had actually joked about.
With the insurance and repair work sorted out at the service center, we drove over to his house. As he rang the doorbell and we stood before his door, I wondered if Mrs Honda would swing a saucepan at me as the door would open. But contrary to my fears, she turned out to be an extremely friendly and warm host. In minutes, she had a sumptuous meal served at the dining table. She made us hot pooris to go with the dum aloo, chane and halwa. As I enjoyed every bite of the meal and every bit of the conversation, I couldn’t help thinking of the unusual turn of events that had got us there.