I would like to share a funny incident regarding my dear father and mother.
Many years ago when my father was posted in Assam ( he held a civilian job
in the Indian Army, testing and tasting food supplies to the Army officers and the Jawans) he learnt
to ride a scooter for the very first time. Having “mastered” the art in a matter of
days, he became the proud owner of the venerable Vespa purchased from the
Army Commissary ( CSD).
He was in love with his scooter and loved riding it about, with or even without
reasonable cause. We often teased him saying, if he could only take his scooter
on his daily walks he would do so.
Having bought the new scooter and also having got his license, he offered to
take my mother for a ride. My mother was all game for it, despite knowing
he was still a learner. They set out on the two wheeler, my mother carefully
tucking in the loose end of her saree to her front and holding on so that the
Pallu of the saree would not flap about or get entangled with the wheel of the
scooter and cause serious damage. Merrily they rode around Guwahati town
enjoying the ride, refreshing breeze in their face when at one point my father
had to stop at a traffic signal. Since it was going to be a long wait, he switched
off the engine and was waiting for the signal to turn to green.
In the meantime, my mother being the naive and concerned wife, thinking not
to burden her man with her additional weight, got off from the scooter, also
waiting for the signal to change to green.
My father, nonchalant as he always is, was not even aware that my mother had
got off the scooter. And when the signal turned green, with one kick of the
starter pedal, the Vespa sprang to life, and he flew away, leaving my mother
behind at the crossroads, causing much mirth and merriment among the locals
who were witness to this bizarre charade.
After riding some distance, my father started conversing with his nonexistent
pillion rider asking whether she would like to visit a friend who happened to
live close by. He kept on talking, not realizing that mother was not there at
all. He took scant notice of people on the road giving him strange looks and
smiling to themselves at this fleeting apparition in full tilt, a Don Quixote
urging himself on with loud bravado.
After a while, getting no response from his companion, he got just a little bit
worried and turned back to see only empty space behind him. He was shocked
out of his wits : where was his lovely wife ? Did he jettison her off her perch
on one of the sharp corners he took ? He made a quick U turn and started
retracing his route, keeping his eyes peeled for a rolled off bundle in a saree
that might look like my mother.
In the mean time my mother who had been left behind unceremoniously in
the middle of the road was embarrassed no end. People who had watched the
whole episode, couldn't help giggling and laughing at her plight : some were
concerned enough to help her move out of harm’s way from the fast moving
traffic. Feeling humiliated, she immediately hailed a rickshaw to take her back
home. The problem was she did not even carry her purse with her, thinking
there was no need for it on her jolly outing with her man and his new mean machine.
Not wishing to attract further attention to herself and having to listen to
commiserations from all sundry in Guwahati town, tears waiting to burst out
from her beautiful eyes, she fled the scene in the rickshaw. She could pay off
the man once she reached the sanctuary of home.
My father eventually reached the fateful spot in search of his lost wife, where
he was stopped by the traffic policeman on duty. My father stopped, worried
and wondering what further calamity would befall him when the policeman
burst out laughing, and told my father that the good woman in the saree had
left for home in a rickshaw. The cop instructed him to return home post haste
and pacify the distraught soul.
Although relieved to learn that nothing untoward had happened to his wife, my
father was terrified all the same at the reaction and the tongue lashing he was
about to receive from his dear wife.
But as usual after the initial anger died down, my mother forgave him, when
she realised it was not his mistake, and it was she who was to blame for having
disembarked from the scooter without alerting him.
My mother till her dying day twenty years ago, carried her purse with her when
she went out with my father.
My beautiful mom during her early thirties. "If these pictures have anything important to say to future generations, it’s this: I was here. I existed. I was young, I was happy, and someone cared enough about me in this world to take my picture". - Anonymous.
Now how she left us on that fateful day:
On that fateful day, her old and recurring pain in the leg, a legacy from her
tonga ride to Sikandra, became excruciatingly unbearable. My father tried
calling for ambulances to take her to the hospital, but none was readily
available. My mother then gamely offered to ride with him on his scooter, if he
promised he would not abandon her midway. Clutching her purse in one hand
and clinging to the railings with the other, with great difficulty and in obvious
pain she climbed down the staircase and got on to his scooter. At the Asian
Hospital nearby, the doctor noticed unusual palpitations in her heart. He called
for Xray’s to be taken, and while in the X ray room she suffered a massive
heart attack and breathed her last. Little did she or any of us imagine that her
last ride on the last day in this world would be on my father’s Vespa.
My father who is now in his nineties still loves to ride his TVS moped around
in Chennai where he lives, the Vespa having long become extinct from the
Indian scene. He is simply an amazing old man : he has got knocked down
from the moped on several occasions, left on the road literally to fend for
himself in a callous, unseeing, uncaring metro city that Chennai has become.
Unaided, he returns home in tatters, blood oozing from a myriad cuts and
bruises, to ride another day. Being a Pharmacy graduate himself ( among other
academic accomplishments) he knows what medicines to apply, and is back in
action in no time with hardly any scars showing. Nothing and nobody can stop
him from riding his moped.
I am amazed how energetic and full of life my father is even at this age. He will
be 91 in another 5 days. Both my parents seem to have never lost the zest for
life even under the most trying conditions. Evidently the positive attitude of
my parents is very contagious, and I am happy to have caught that disease from
Even now, after so many years have passed, one cannot forget the many
adventures that my parents had together whenever they went riding off into the
sunset on their trusty Vespa.
Happy Mother's Day !