“Solo”, “Ekla Chalo Re”, “Alone” are phrases used these days by young, progressive bloggers. I feel, these women are doing a tremendous job to bring all the wonderful feats achieved everyday by women to the limelight. Kudos! To all who celebrate womanhood!
Honestly, such terms may be in vogue now but since time immemorial women have been undertaking such lone ventures in many spheres. No one ever sung for them. A big thanks to the technological developments, at least now people know some of the stories and women get a chance to express themselves.
Now let me talk about myself. I have spent an important part of my life doing things solo; not always to satisfy my passion but out of compulsion too. I did innumerable things alone– I went inside a concrete tomb shaped water tank to discover its darkness, I rode a bicycle at a time alone on the streets of Kolkata when a girl cycling was a feast to eyes for people then, I had phuchkas (panipuris) standing alone in midst of strangers, had jhalmudi (bhel) alone sitting in the window seat of a public bus. And the list goes on and on.
Times have changed. I am now a proud mother of progressive-minded daughters. So I racked my brain to write something both brave and contemporary that I have done in recent years to live up to the expectation of the young readers.
What exactly did I do “Solo” that would be worth sharing? I pressed my memory hard and it immediately struck me that I have done something here, in Oman itself that involves fear, adventure and the happiness of achieving something great for a woman. I learned to drive!
Every person who has learnt to drive has to one day steer the wheels through the lanes and bylanes of their city sans a trainer, sans company. I too had to do it here in Oman where driving is a necessity more than a luxury. For me, it was and is a compulsion too as my husband doesn’t drive.
It so happened that the taxi driver my husband had hired had left, and my husband was facing a problem in commuting to his workplace. He, as any husband, didn’t think that his wife could drive through the highway at a speed of 120 km/hr and was really in a soup!
I, as any concerned wife, readily wanted to help him and didn’t hesitate at the thought of taking my maiden drive on the highways. I was an accomplished driver within the city, after all. I took my Toyota Yaris car to the highways, gripped with some unknown fear, excitement and an aim! I muttered to myself– “I can do it!” I accelerated to a speed of 80 to 100 but restricted myself to the slow track. Yes, I was stiff and really scared to feel and see the huge size trucks and trailers and cars speed past. My car and me were so puny both behind and beside on the tracks!
I realized that driving at 100km/hr on the slow track of the highway was like riding at the speed of a bullock carts with the other speeding cars and heavy trucks racing past. I won’t deny that I felt embarrassed and it did hurt my ego which made my resolve to complete the journey stronger. I had to do it!
I mustered up courage and swerved on to the left after a careful look into the rear and side mirrors. By this time I was driving at 120km/hr. Suddenly, I felt a jolt by some strong force of wind; my petite car was shaking. Just when I thought I would lose control, I could see in the rear view mirror a glimpse of a car sticking to mine and flashing light indicating me to move right (I was unaware of such indications by fellow drivers on the highway)! The raging honk added to my plight!
What do I do? Will I get hit? Such scary thoughts paralyzed my mind. It took some time before I was calm again. After that with all my collected will and presence of mind, I carefully swerved the car in that high speed on to the right (I had to mind the other approaching cars too). A slight error and I would have been down the edges but by Almighty’s grace I was successfully onto the track.
Now that I had crossed a major hurdle (The highway), I just had to drive for few kilometers on bumpy roads to reach my husband’s workplace. Once I reached there, I pushed the seat back and relaxed and patted myself on the back- “You did it”.
I successfully completed my first solo drive on that scary highway!
What’s more? I could surprise my husband, who to be honest was shocked to know I was present to pick him up! I came back happy with a feat of achievement, conquered fears and added happiness. In the journey back home, I was not solo, but duo!
About Ranjana Gupta:
After teaching for almost two decades, she is now a home maker and family driver. A die hard fan of Kolkata phuchkas, this proud bong takes life as it comes.