We were talking about what kind of car we all were and my husband (we’d only been married 2 years at that point) said I was a practical hatchback and my younger brother shook his head and said, “She used to be a Wrangler”. I looked up, surprised and so did my husband. I don’t think either of us saw me that way.
I’ve thought about that incident quite a bit over the years. I’m not sure if he realises it, but my husband helped get the Wrangler back out, just maybe a sleeker one, if there is any such thing. Wait, he just corrected me, I’m the Honda Pilot I now drive. Not a Wrangler yet… but anyway…
At 16 I was like any other girl my age, I wanted a drivers license, a car and the freedom to run wild. But I grew up in Saudi Arabia where that was impossible. Even the yearly trips I made with my family to my native country, Pakistan, were completely useless. I was much too prudent to sneak off with someone else’s car, like my father had, back in his day.
At 20 I was in Pakistan, studying for my undergrad, desperately in need of independence and personal transport. I lived with relatives who’s morals were utterly incomprehensible to me, I had a hard time being academic in an unacademic home, ate a lot but still lost weight and clung to my friends like glue, I took 22 driving lessons in a Suzuki Mehran, with a broken windscreen, and every time I drove the family car, cousins jittered me to bits. By the time I reached my senior year I was a nervous wreck.
After many other obstacles, a wonderful husband and 3 amazing children, almost 16 years later, I got my drivers license.
I stood outside the traffic department, holding a shiny new card in my hand, smiling, with tears in my eyes. I wrote most of this post that day as I waited for my husband to come pick me up with the kids.
He drove up, stepped out of the drivers seat and smiled at me, and just held that door open. I remember the energy that reverberated through me, the way I felt, as I gripped the steering wheel. I was sure I hadn’t been oppressed. My life just didn’t provide that many opportunities, or maybe I never took them. I was never a fighter, never able to stand up for myself or the things I wanted. I just always believed that they’d come to me if I were patient. So I was and they did.
I know my husband was nervous all the way home, worried I might be intoxicated with joy, but he didn’t say anything to spoil the moment.
I remember the day I got on the highway and drove at 120 km/hr past glistening beaches along the road. That was a dream. The palm trees swept past and the stretch of shoreline to my left couldn’t have been more beautiful. I felt 16 again.
I love poetry and love scribbling out verses of my own. Just like any other teenager I was sensitive and maybe even a bit emotional. I expressed my myself by writing out elaborate poetry. One specific poem marked a turning point in my personality. A poem that helped me come to terms with the amount of responsibility that I had, but it also helped me hold on to the passionate part of me, so I could dig it out again some day.
As I flew over the highway, all I could think of was that poem and the person that I had buried away, while my children in the back seat sat completely dumbstruck at this mama who could drive.
So I cried my emotional tears and took in a fresh breath, it was good to be alive again.
Alhamdulillah (All praise is to Allah) who gave me that experience, all of it, the joy as well as the pain that preceded it. Wouldn’t give it up for anything.