Success is sweet. It has turned into an industry by itself. We all love it… we covet it… we pursue it. The farther it seems from us the more frenzied we get… reading it up… devouring it… soaking it in our soul. In that desperation, we forget to savor the failures.
Somehow I feel very affectionate about my failures. They are so unassuming and bashful. They don’t make a noise and blare from rooftops. They don’t expect to be acknowledged or noticed; let alone being made a fuss over. Success is brash. It wants to hog all the space all the limelight available. It wants to dominate… it wants to stun… it wants to plunge people into envy.
The biggest failure of my life is in learning to drive a car. I don’t know what it is. I ride 2-wheelers well enough… but when it comes to 2 measly additional wheels, I seem possessed of one right foot made of a solid block of cement and nailed securely to the accelerator for good measure. Those of you who DO drive… wipe the repulsive grin off your face. When they said a smile improves your face value, they didn’t mean the one you have on right now. 🙁
I remember I had a friend who could never master the 2 wheeler. Her dad had to ‘fetch and carry’ her everywhere she needed to go. The usual victim for such ‘duties’ is a brother- but hers was too young. Did you mention public transport…? Ha… shows you’ve never been to Jabalpur. Yes… er… my town is a trifle YOUNG in that quarter. Anyhow, so I was talking about this friend for whom the 2-wheeler remained an untamed monster. You may be sure, the rest of us wheeled missies made fun of her. Every time we saw her cooling her heels unobtrusively behind a tree, waiting for her busy dad to come and pick her up, we’d make it point to pointedly stop by and chat with her.
She noticed of course, but never said anything. Then one day, someone asked her if she didn’t hate having to wait. No, it wasn’t me… I don’t ask fathead questions like that. Ok… don’t believe it… as if I care…! Jeez… how you lead me on to digress…!! The loaded question having being asked, we all gathered around agog to listen to her response. We expected her map to flush with embarrassment. Par kahan…!? There came into her eyes a look of mysterious dreaminess. She pulled herself up to her full height- and she was really tall. We could almost imagine her hair and cape blowing in the wind. She was one proud girl. At the spectacle, our mouths fell open with awe. Then she said, “Oh..! I don’t really expect you to understand the pleasure of being driven around like a queen. Driving yourself everywhere… getting messed up with dirty things…  is soooooo…”, she looked at us all pityingly, “….plebian.” No, I don’t recall what happened next… but I knew you’d ask…!
Going back to my own battle with the wheel, let me assure you, I tried. I mean I really tried. I’ve always learnt to drive a new set of wheels by taking the bike out at 5 o’clock in the morning for 2-3 days consecutively- and I go alone. I get the feel of the bike and that’s it. I tried the same thing with the car. The moment my dad said he will go with me- I knew I was doomed. We reached a picturesque stretch of road… winding in the hills… people going for their morning walks. I was at the wheels. I turned a corner and the car went off the road… guess I didn’t turn the wheel around fast enough. There was this portly gentleman ambling along. I… er… set the car after him I am afraid. It was only his nimbleness that saved him that day. I am sure he thinks a few extra pounds aren’t as dangerous as getting active- and remains house-bound to this day. His angst and the frank passion with which he expressed it is rather irrelevant now. I don’t think I need not go into it. This was round one for me… nearly 15 years ago.
Two years back I got a bee up my bonnet again. New car… greater confidence… my father’s deteriorating health… all made me realize that there has to be one more person in the house who can drive- in case of emergencies. I will spare you the details. Just a brief list of the hits I made.
    1. One extraordinarily dirty and ugly pig (ugh..!)
    2. Three Cyclists (at different times…)
    3. One couple on a bike (Yes, there was blood on the road… )
    4. One cow banged squarely across the middle.
I was horribly shaken after the couple. I mean really jittery. Of course they didn’t get hurt much… but they could have. In fact I still get nightmares sometimes and see their mangled bodies lying on the road. After the cow, it was over for me. The poor thing gave me such a pained look. I never felt so ashamed in my life.
I know then that the car wheel and I were not meant to be together. You know how it is na…? There are some relationships which are never meant to be. I have accepted it now. I can’t speak for the car. I suppose she too has bowed to the inevitable. The next thing I did was to hire a driver and there the matter rests.
Guess who gets to be driven around like a queen…?
Written on: 14th Mar 2010
Scaling the Heights of Failure