Driving Young -- Tuesday March 25, 2008
I wonder what Bapak and Mak felt back then when their kids turned 18 and were eligible to drive cars.
I think being parents with only their own teen experience to fall back on was beneficial to us all. They did not have the phobia or the paranoia of parents who'd "been through it all". They pretty much trusted us.
So, they dutifully did what they thought was the normal thing to do -- enrol us in driving schools when we turned 18.
Luckily, there had been no bad experiences on the road that would compel Bapak to ban us from driving.
Well....except in 1972 after Kak Olin got her driver's licence.
It was the coolest thing that Kak Olin got her licence. Kak Eda and I were the ones who got excited when Kak Olin got her licence.
Had we got plans for Kak Olin! Yes, yes...we'd get Kak Olin to take us places. So cool!
And, Kak Olin was such a sport!
So, Kak Eda and I excitedly persuaded Kak Olin to take us for a drive around the neighbourhood. You know, today the neighbourhood, tomorrow, who knows -- KL, perhaps?
It was an uneventful drive -- from our house, around Section 16 and back. But just before we reached the corner of the road in front of our house, we cheered Kak Olin on, telling to show us what she was made of, and that was to make a fierce "corner baring" into the road and then into our driveway.
Before we knew it, there was a loud "gedebuk" sound, followed by long scratching ..
And then the car came to an abrupt halt as Kak Olin stepped on the brakes.
Kak Olin was "as pucat as a ghost". Poor Kak Olin.
"Alamak", Kak Eda said.
"Oh-oh," I quipped.
Kak Olin was in shock and then, almost in tears. We were all too scared to check out the damage until Mak came running out of the house towards us.
She went towards the left side of the car, her face in a frown.
The car had hit the left brick structure that lined the side of the driveway outside the gate. This structure, built on both sides of the path, doubled as a low seating block for house owners in those days when people spent evenings outside, talking and gossiping with their neighbours.
I don't see these structure outside people's homes anymore.
The damage to the car -- an Opel Record -- was surprisingly not serious. It was a sturdy and strong car. But, a damage was a damage and Bapak would have to be told.
Kak Olin mumbled about mistakenly stepping on the accelerator instead of the brakes.
It was the longest afternoon. Will Bapak be angry?
Frankly, we had no idea how he would react, save the fact that he would probably really be angry.
Kak Olin felt that she had let Mak down.
When Bapak got home, Mak broke the news to him after dinner.
There was no rage and no anger. Just a stern warning to be careful the next time.
Looking back, perhaps Bapak was relieved the accident was minor and none of us were hurt.
Now, I'm not sure how I'd react if Adel told me that he had smashed my car. Of course, I know that I'd be relieved if he suffered no injury. Still, would I furiously nag him about his lack of care and caution?
Just yesterday Adel excitedly told me that passed his driving test -- his second attempt.
He had passed the theory but failed the practical in his first attempt last month.
When he told me he failed the practical the first time, I was not disappointed although I pretended to be. In fact, I was so glad he did not make it through.
When he told me that he had passed on his second attempt, I pretended to be thrilled. Pretended? Yes. I was hoping he'd not pass.
Over the years, I have known of young drivers killed in road accidents because of their wrecklessness or inexperience.
I don't know what kind of driver Adel will be. I know that I have given him tips on road safety and advised him to be responsible and careful on the road.
But I remember when I first got my driver's licence. What power I felt when driving on the federal highway!
One day in 1976, I was fetching Abang Med from his office - Pacific Chemicals - in Shah Alam. Abang Med had just got a job after returning from his studies in Australia. He hadn't bought a car yet.
I was driving Mak's Mazda 1000. No, not an Alfa Romeo. Just a Mazda 1000 and I was speeding.
Abang Med, not so impressed by my driving, remarked (a sigh was audible): "You're so young, Ena. So young."
It was not a compliment. And within moments, I slowed down and assumed a moderate speed. I felt a little ashamed.
As for Adel -- he has not insisted on driving to his college in Subang Jaya. But I know he will want to. Maybe by next week.
And why shouldn't he?
I'll continue to remind him to be safe to not speed like he's the king of the road, so that neither of us will be sorry.
And he will never know that I was "young on the road" once.