Saturday, May 12, 2012

RIDING OFF INTO THE SUNSET ON A VESPA




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. 


                                    My mom when she was some 11 or 12 years old (my favorite)

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 Dad
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
them.


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 !



32 comments:

  1. Immensely lucky are you!
    And wishes to your father in advance, for his B-day.

    A rollicking and poignant narrative you made.

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  2. beautiful narration Rama. i almost pictured the whole scene and have been laughing since....

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  3. Oh what an amazing narration. I laughed so hard at the incident of the disembarking and your dad riding merrily along thinking your mom was behind him!! I cried when she breathed her last- and smiled through the tears thinking of how unique that her last trip was on the scooter!

    Your mom sounds wonderful and I know you must miss her!!

    Your dad sounds like my dad- May he have a great birthday.

    Thank you so much for sharing this!!! It really was amazing!! Loved the pics which went along with it.

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  4. happy mothers day
    like the narration

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  5. Beautiful and such precious photos. Have a lovely day Francesca

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  6. Happy Mother's Day and wish your dad a very happy birthday! My dad had a similar incident when he was riding his scooter in Agra. Mom was the pilion rider and my elder sis was perched between them. Come a pothole and mom fell off the scooter. Dad did not realize and drove on. My sister who was very young started yelling and tugging. Dad stopped the scooter, realized his folly and went back to pick her up. He hadn't gone very far. Needless to say, he had to spend a lot of time placating her :).

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  7. Thanks Franicesca and Rachna

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  8. Happy moms day Rama, you have been a wonderful mother just like your mother! May God bless your dad with health and peace.I was expecting a mothers day post from you today and here it is!
    It was very interesting to read this post, it brought me memories of the very same thing happening to me years ago.. the only difference was that I was more naive than your mom, waited for him to come back n pick me up :-)

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  9. Yes padmaja, it has happened to many people, well it just takes one bad experience to make oneself more smarter.

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  10. Beautiful post.....brought back a few memories for me too, my father had a Lamby & he had an accident just months after he bought it. He took a year to recover after a botched operation. I can never forget it, I grew up so much in the space of tht 1 yr.

    Happy Mothers Day to U too!!!!

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  11. Touched by this post. It brought the the love and respect that u have for ur parents Happy Mother's Day!!
    www.bbsearchingself.wordpress.com

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  12. That was an interesting read.
    I am sure there will be more small stories tucked away that must have happened between them (some of which you too may not be aware)
    Vespa was one of the prized possession in those days. Reminds me of my Yezdi bike from the CSD. Bought it for Rs 10000/- used it for 11 years and sold it for Rs 9000/-
    By the way you all are most welcome for the chutney. Just drop in any time. (My wife makes nice appam.... the soft and fluffy type)

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  13. Yes, Haddock, there are many, many interesting stories about them, some of them I have already shared in my blogs. The thing is that my parents always shared with us all that happened between them, and on many occasions I too was there.
    Would you believe, if I told you that this incident of early Vespa ride happened when I was just 6 years old?
    I must say I do have a very good memory.
    Thanks for the invite, I will definitely drop in, if I ever have the chance of visiting Pune.

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  14. Wow this one reminded me of the LML vespa I use to have ..

    a beautiful article , did you write this erlier too because i am sure i have read it this earlier or maybe a similar incident where your dad left your mum standing :)

    She was a lovely person and no wonder you are a lovely person tooooo ...

    Happy mothers day to you have a great day ...

    Bikram's

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  15. Oh,my God!, Bikram you are right, I had posted this story exactly at the same time last year.
    Somehow it had slipped my mind. I just thought it would be wonderful to share this incident during mother's Day.
    I just went and checked, some people had written similar comments at that time too.
    However this time I have added a few more things about my mother, and somehow I like the way it has come out this time. It is really strange.
    You are right, Bikram, you have read this before.

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  16. Happy parents day!..you father is an amazing person at this age..

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  17. A beautiful post Rama and nice account of your mother's ride. I too recollect something similar happened when I took my wife on a ride from Mumbai to Matheran and on way back had almost a repeat of scene except that I realized within a few minutes of my missing companion:)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Rahul. Men behave the same way, everywhere I suppose.

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  18. such a wonderful narration ....your Mom is so pretty .Share more stories abt them.YOu have an awesome comical approach to your stories which makes us picturise them right in front of our eyes....makes them all bestseller reading :)
    you should seriously take up writing and publishing...you have major talent .
    HAppy mother's day :)

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the lovely compliments. I am glad you enjoyed it.

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  19. Hello Rama,

    A fantastic header photo with a lovely quote. Photography has opened my eyes although I do it mainly for the purpose of blogging and FB.

    I laughed and soon I was overcome with great sadness to read what you have written about your father and mother. Lovely photos of your mum.They are very precious.

    Wish your father Happy Birthday on my behalf tomorrow.Tell him that he is an inspiration to people like me although I have not met him.May God bless him abundantly with all health and happiness.

    Have a nice day,
    Joseph

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, thank you, Joseph. I would definitely pass on your message to my father.

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  20. A very happy birthday to your dad!!
    A very touching and a very beautiful narration!
    And belated mother's day wishes!

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    Replies
    1. Thank you for your kind words and wishes for my father.
      Mother's Day is usually a western concept, for us Indians, everyday can be said to a mother's day, even though they may not be near us, their spirit is always there, guiding us in our paths.
      Thanks Shilpa.

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  21. Beautiful read, I must say and for the first time after reading a post I felt emotional. Rama, a very impressive narration of relations and life! Love it...

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    Replies
    1. Thank you Nancy, seeing you after a long time.

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  22. This was a wonderful story, rama! Your Mom was a beautiful lady and your Dad looks also good for his agae! You have the parents to be proud of! I wish many more years to your father!

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  23. Beautiful narration, Rama! I was reading the whole story with a smile in my face!

    Happy mother's day! Best wishes to your father too! Take care.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Sandhya, I am glad you liked it.

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