…Continued from here.
One and a half months after the move, I was still not taking any step toward the DMV. A day before the kids’ winter break, the husband literally put me on the car, took all the documents needed and drove me to the DMV. ‘But but.. I haven’t prepared for the knowledge test!’, I said. ‘But but.. You’ve taken the test thrice already. You can ideally set the question paper for the test now’, he said. Well, may be, he did have a point.
So, I did pass my knowledge test. Fourth time and yes, you can stop counting now. So while I was waiting after finishing my test, I was hoping my India DL would somehow rescue me from the much dreaded road test. The person in-charge took a look at my license, consulted a book for about five minutes (which felt like five hundred to me!) and came back with a ‘Your state is not in the book!’ What’s new, anyway! ‘So, I’ll put you on January 25th for the road test?’ There it was. January 25th was the mangalagarama naaL.
I slowly started preparing with the husband but I didn’t want to fail this time. Or, let’s put it this way.. I wanted to prepare myself well. I finally took a decision and called a driving school. I knew how much these classes cost. If nothing else could do, at least the financial commitment should make me focus on passing the test was my reasoning. I booked for classes. A tall big American was my instructor. The first day I was super scared.. both of him and the driving. But he was super friendly unlike my (and other people’s) experiences from Indian instructors who have been super rude. (‘My instructor used to pinch me’ ‘Chithappa gave up driving ‘cos the instructor used to scream at him’.)
‘You just need to concentrate on your speed. You tend to slow down when turning. Otherwise, you are fine.’ This I started practicing with the husband. I drove the kids to their weekend classes. ‘Ma.. You are driving. Oh God.. Will we reach on time?’ ‘Appa.. Please can you take over. I can’t hold my breath any longer!’ You remember I said driving with infants is scary? Scratch that. Driving with older kids is even more scary. And annoying.
And then, the D-Day dawned. All the bests were traded for breakfasts. ‘Ma.. Don’t drive too fast and you’ll pass easily.’ Giant hugs were given and taken. My instructor came in an hour earlier to practice before the test. We did parallel parking a dozen times. K turn a dozen times. And, went on the same path as the test a dozen times. Finally, it was time. We were waiting behind a few cars to have the test taken. ‘So, how long should we wait to take the next test if we don’t pass today?’, I quietly asked him. ‘Why are you even thinking of that now?’ I shut up. But nervousness doesn’t let me shut up. ‘Are you also nervous every time your student goes through the test?’ ‘No, I just hope they pass.’ I wished I could stop talking; for the sake of both me and him (He wasn’t keeping well that day!)
Finally, my turn came. The officer checked the signals and my instructor bid me goodbye. The officer got into the car. I was breathing hard. I was breathing audibly. I was breathing as though I was in pain. ‘Are you okay?’, he asked. Yes, I mumbled. But my breathing didn’t stop. ‘Are you okay?’, he asked again. Yes, a little nervous, I said. ‘But you have an India license. Why are you scared?’ Yeah right. No, I didn’t say that. Thankfully.
Then, I started driving. I knew the route by heart. At what speeds to go. Which turns to take. Which signals to give. My instructor had specifically told me even though I knew the way, I had to wait for the officer’s instructions. I did. At one turn, I slid a little faster. ‘Easy easy’, he said. ‘Govinda govinda’, my mind said. I drove further and finally I had to parallel park.
Aaah. Parallel parking, my nemesis. He asked me to make a U-turn and parallel park immediately. I had to straighten the car first to parallel park. I took about four minutes to straighten the car. Finally, I parallel parked. The car was parked straight but I did take a lot of time. Govinda.. Govinda.. Yes, my mind voice again. The officer asked me to park near a couple of cars. I was waiting for him to tell me why I failed. ‘You know, that turn was very fast!’ ‘You need to work on your parallel parking. It was horrible.’ Instead he said just two words. ‘You pass!’
Really? I thought I was only thinking it but no, apparently my mouth was faster. Yes, you did, he said. Thank you, I said. Thanks a lot. It’s a medical miracle. Thankfully, I stopped myself before I could say that. Then, I saw my instructor. ‘G, I passed!’, I yelled. I know, he said. It was just another day for him.
I went to the DMV in the same exhilaration to get my license. But there was some issue and asked me to come after a week. It was a bit of a dampener but then, I had passed. I had passed my road test. Finally. I called the husband. I messaged a whole lot of friends. And then, finally when the school bus came, the kids came asking, ‘Passed? Passed?’ When I said yes, my kids and a few of their friends all started screaming with joy. Passersby must’ve thought I won some World Cup or something.
Today, I went to the DMV and finally got my DL. As I saw it, I felt like I conquered the Everest. Yeah, it isn’t really a big deal ideally but for me it has come after a big struggle. For those of you who kept prodding me to do better at every hurdle, a big big thank you. I still need to start driving on my own for which I believe this is a first step. And today, I am happy for this teeny tiny first step.