I Was Driving When My Dad Died

5 hours to go

I remember trying to convince my mom to teach me how to drive. It was the summer of 2012 and I was 15. I didn’t know a lot of kids my age at the time who drove, and certainly no girls. So it was a huge deal for me.

One fine day, my mom finally had me sit behind the steering wheel. I raced the pedal, shifted gears, and successfully completed a round of our small township. My mom was super proud (like they always are with everything we do), but when I got home and told my dad, he wasn’t so much. The most he did was shift his focus from the newspaper to me for the 30 seconds that I was blabbering.

* * *

4 hours to go

A couple of years later, when we moved to a different city for my father’s cancer treatment, our almost-new car sat in its parking spot for the most part. My dad was too sick to drive, and I, too scared. But when we decided to visit my grandparents for Diwali that year, over 500 km away, my dad trusted me behind the steering wheel. Needless to say, those were five very long hours of criticism.

* * *

3 hours to go

The COVID-19 pandemic hit and the whole nation was under lockdown. My dad was about to undergo a bone marrow transplant and needed multiple blood transfusions. In a time like this, it was difficult to find donors who had their own vehicle or could travel the distance without catching the virus. So, I decided to cross state borders and drive donors to the hospital.

* * *

2 hours to go

I’m sure you’re wondering how something as trivial as learning how to drive is a story that needs to be told. It is for me, because I was driving when my dad passed away. All these years, it seems, life was just preparing me for that one drive.

My mom and I left home as soon as my uncle called from the hospital. He said it was serious. It had been serious a couple of times before too, so my mom still had hope. We reached the hospital and I knew something was wrong. I could feel it in my bones. And it was. I won’t bore you with the details.

* * *

1 hour to go

As I sit behind the steering wheel once again on the same highway where my dad gave me the tips I would use while driving for the rest of my life, I can’t help but think about my journey as a driver. From not being able to start the car in one go to driving my family across the state for my dad’s cremation, I think I got the hang of it. At least, that’s what everyone’s been saying. But oh, what I wouldn’t give to get that look from my dad once again, to tell him that I finally did it.

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