The car itself was sold to a young, hardworking, handsome, upwardly mobile geek, with a beautiful, charming, etc etc etc wife and a playful, charming, lovely etc etc son some weeks back.
After a few weeks, he is taken for a spin. And as his senses soak up the interiors : the clean dashboard, the distinct odour of new rexine (or whatever), the super clean floor mat etc. And he sits. Forgetting the rest of the world.
It was then that he hears the rustle. It is then that the rustle of plastic on his behind was…, hmm…lets put it this way : is slightly more than a patently evident ! And with every pothole and stone that the tyre cares to caress, the collective weight of four bodies on plastic creates a sound that seems louder than the Korean engine inside the hood.
With the resolve of a Tamil film hero out to avenge the injustice meted out to his mother, his hands seize the plastic cover on his seat. To yank them away. His action would spell freedom for the seat. And peace for his ears.
It was obvious that he wasn’t prepared for ‘Don’t do that’ shriek that came in unison from his co-passengers. One of whom was his wife. ( Yes some men never learn). For all that could escape from his stunned lips was some hot air.
Like a pick pocket caught in the act by CC TV, he shrunk. ‘Let the plastic remain. The seat covers will get dirty. Let the car stay new for some more time’ they tell him. In Unison.
‘Its been five weeks. For how long….?’ he manages to mutter. Hoping to get the others aware of the futility of such efforts.
His wife shoots an unsolicited reply into the air-conditioned air of the korean car. “They will be there, as long as those plastic covers on your books back home remain. As long as those empty cartons of your perfume bottles occupy space in the cramped wardrobe…..”
In a jiffy he makes peace. He smokes the peace pipe with the flip-flop of an election time politician. The white flag waved with alarming ambivalence. And for sometime the only sound that punctuates the still air is from the air-conditioning vent.
Then in the middle of the road, the rubber says hello to a pothole. And a collective rustle of four bodies on plastic abounds. By now, he is aware that he has made his peace. And he stares into the outside world.
The potholes and plastic make him aware. Of his beginnings. Of his circle. Of his friends. Of his family. Of his country. Of its roads. And one more, much reviled, cliche: “middle class ” !!
PS : To the young upwardly mobile geek & family, with the new car, who will read this sometime : Sorry. This photograph is shared without your explicit permission. Hopefully all the adjectives showered in the opening para will compensate. OK ?)