She was going to go away, after a long stint. She had been with us in rain and shine, when we wanted to take a long ride or just visit a friend’s place. She had made space for even the largest of all families only to see that we enjoyed ourselves even as she slogged on rugged roads and drove in bad weather. And she never complained. Maybe, a bruise here and there but she never ever raised a situation wherein we would wish she wasn’t there.
Ever since I had known about four wheelers I had known her. No other four wheeler would do. With Papa working in Hindustan Motors, it seemed only natural for him and subsequently for the rest of the family to feel comfortable only in the warm embrace of an Ambassador. She was the Captain of the Ship, she was the favourite Maasi of mine, she was that ever loving cheerful Maama of mine, she was part of the family, part of us…
Now, why would I want to dip into the quiet pool of nostalgia and remember her as if she was gone or was going away? Well. She is going to go – Shortly. After a long journey of ‘God Only Knows’ how many years, her time has come to leave hearth and home. She has been sick, lying dormant for the past few months watching sadly as we used a smaller vehicle for matter of convenience. Every other day, when we passed her by and stepped into the currently used vehicle I could sense the sadness that only a royal Ambassador can feel on being left alone and unused. After all, she belonged to the rough and tough category of four wheelers, ever willing to run in any season for any reason.
Now, my father, ageing himself and the owner of the Ambassador wants to put memories of her to rest. Never one to express his emotions, I know it hurt him bad when an ex-colleague of his dropped in to comment, “Better get rid of it or else you would have to pay someone to take it away.” For most people a car maybe ‘it’ but for me she certainly was no non living entity. She was a living loving family member! Today, an interested buyer came home. She is still there, wrapped in the car cover to protect her from heat, cold and dust waiting for her time to come.
For some it may seem, how could an inanimate thing like a car evoke such strong emotions in a human? Well, if you have driven in an Ambassador for long/ have owned one, you would know. I still remember the times when we would be returning home after a dinner at a friend’s place and Papa would place me on his lap and while he maneuvered the brake, accelerator and clutch (since my feet didn’t reach there!), his little darling daughter would handle the steering wheel while my mother wondered what the hell Papa was doing. How I felt then, only I know. The feeling of being in charge, of being trusted enough to handle the wheels that came (at least to me) while I sat in the driver’s seat in an Ambassador, only I know. No other car has made me feel the same to date. I learnt driving a four wheeler in this very Ambassador. I was sanely advised (God bless that person) that if I could drive an Ambassador I could drive any car in the world. And how true it turned out to be. Palakkad town in Kerala is witness to my training rides. Why! Even my school children would see the car anywhere in the town and identify it as Shail Madam’s car! In the heavy downpours that Palakkad is known to have in the rainy months, it was this very Ambassador that sheltered me and my family. How many joy rides I had then!
Mummy used to tell me (I have seen the black and white photographs too) of a pretty pregnant Mummy going for a Southern tour with Papa in the Ambassador. I suppose I could sense the feel even when I was within the confines of the womb! Much later, the Ambassador would take me around when I reported for my television work. The Ambassador never complained about the odd times. Instead, I could feel her unconditional love even as she took care that I reached home safe and sound every day.
Some years back when the issue of letting her go was broached, my son much younger then, refused to let go even though his association with her was much lesser than mine. Sigh! What strong emotions an Ambassador can evoke even in a little child and that too in today’s world of foreign cars! Now that my son is a little older he doesn’t brood about this particular topic often although I could see that wee bit of sadness creep into his eyes when I mentioned that the Ambassador had to go since she had grown very old and was ailing.
Thank You dear Ambassador for all the lovely memories you have bestowed upon me.
I love you dear Amby! Will always do……