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Learning new skills

I recently drove Dad’s car. I’ve known how to drive since the last five years, but never ever had the courage to drive his multi utility vehicle. I would merely park it inside the house, once Dad returned from office. The sheer size and power of that beast scared me. It brought up images of sudden screeches, nervous brakes, wrong turns and narrow escapes. Mum would always call out my inability to drive, when it would rain (which it does for one third of the year), or when two wheeler would be too much of a pain to sit on. I always got it but felt the fear running in my nerves every time I would think of Indian roads, the lack of traffic rule followers and my inability to pull out of sharp corners.

However, things changed when I drove from the hospital to home, which is around 5.5 miles (9 kms), after the first day of Dad’s chemotherapy. Yes, Dad started on palliative chemotherapy last week. The bigger news is that Dad drove from home to the hospital, with all his tubes intact. But after chemo, I didn’t want him to do so on returning. So with seat belt intact, I sat behind the wheel of this beast, and let out a big sigh.

The skies were darkening, with pale clouds taking over. It would rain soon. Post 18.30 hours, it was already twilight. It was also past office hours, meaning the city’s traffic would be three fold of the otherwise normal traffic. As I rove the engine and pulled out of the parking, my nerves calmed a little, as I pulled the car out of the hospital’s slopy exit. Merely two seconds out, a big car flashed its lights into my eyes and Dad gestured angrily at me. I had done nothing wrong except not honk while leaving. This is India, and you honk at every bl**dy corner. I drove mostly in the third gear, pressing brakes, running wipers to clear rain water, getting the indicators right, stopping at all signs, even managing a tricky intersection, while needing a traffic cop’s help on the other.

We reached safe and sound. Dad gave me a 7 out of 10 on my first official drive. Something, I’m very happy about.

But above all, what I’m really happy about is the comfort of realising that I can drive. That I wouldn’t need to be dependant on someone, in case of a medical emergency (except when having a flat tyre) and that Dad wouldn’t have to worry about hiring a driver.

I learnt an essential skill at a time when it is greatly needed. I’m not a very good driver yet, but I’m decent enough when the situation demands it. And such a situation came two days later, which I’ll share in my next post.

There are so many negatives currently in my family’s life, but there are many positives too. And last week’s drive was a small addition to those.

Hi, I’m Mariyam, thank you for reading my post. This is part of my series on finding positivity and decoding the ‘be positive’ attitude as my father fights through aggressive oral cancer.

If you liked it, you can read other posts on

You can also follow me on twitter @MariyamRaza for more. Much love 🙂

Mariyam Raza Haider

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A journalist by training, Mariyam Haider is a writer and performance poet in Singapore.
She is the researcher of the book The Billionaire Raj: A Journey Through India’s New Gilded Age written by James Crabtree.
Her writing has appeared in Hindustan Times, Livemint, Feminism In India, New Asian Writing and Kitaab.

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