<*- HOME 
    "I'm unsure which pedal is the accelerator", Chandan meekly said to his father sitting in the passenger's seat who inexplicably had total confidence in his son's ability to maneouvre this brand new car which was worth a year of his labor, swallowed contempt for his bank colleagues, and the daily humiliations of subordination to superiors who he felt unworthy of being so. 

    It wasn't that Chandan didn't know how to drive a car but that he hadn't used or seen a car quite like this before. His father hadn't either until he saw an advertisement on television for the all new "ClaXXy" by an american brand which also manufactured the kind of car their rich neighbor owned.  Sitting in the driver's seat of this innovative, sophisticated testament to human progress, Chandan felt quietly desperate and obsolete every time he thought of how convenient it would be to navigate the inconveniences of the subway. His neighbor walked by,  watching Chandan and his immaculately dressed parents sit in an unmoving car which was not nearly as innovative, sophisticated,  elegant or as strong a testament of human progress as the "XUV-1200" that her father had bought.  She carried a hint of a smile which might have been either condescending or warm, but more likely somwehere in between. "ClaXXy ignition ON", Chandan's father spoke to the car's flashy touchscreen dashboard which was supposedly voice activated but which had issues with recognizing his unfamiliar accent. After some combination of level pulling, touchscreen touching, window turning, command speaking, the car started, leaving everyone in the semi innovative Claxxy glad that it could start at all. Just then, Chandan noticed that it wouldn't fit through the narrow lane occupied by impetuous strays indifferent to his family's arrival to a whole new level of status - to be imminently visible to the general public as they navigate the potholes of the city. "Thieves, all of them" Chandan's father spitefully commented on the group of people employed by whichever government body was responsible for the road's upkeep. They clearly weren't as interested in the community's wellbeing as the magnanimous residents of chandan's neighborhood among whom a whopping 12 had decided to take out a few rupees from their monthly dining budget for the sake of the local garden. 

    Chandan waited for the street to clear up; for the strays to leave and for some people to move their social and geographical mobility machines. He began to drive, hoping to meet familiarity with this vehicle before an accident. That would not be the case.

    The first turn he made brought him to the main road and also to the sight of five pairs of headlights aimed and moving in his direction. Four cars went by him. The fifth, an XUV-2000-novation which was twice the size of the ClaXXY seemed to be headed straight towards him. Chandan realized he was mistaken about which way this road went despite having seen it all his life. He pressed on a pedal that he thought would let him brake but which turned out to be designed to play "Let it be" by the beatles in case the Claxxy's passengers found themselves interested in listening to one last song before their fatal end. So chandan, inept at the sorcery required to make the car halt, watched the car hurtle ahead, putting all his residual hope into the driver of an XUV-2000-novation coming towards him for a head on collision. He figured that the other driver would swerve or stop. That would not be the case.

    In the few seconds preceding the collision that would leave the ClaXXy in a wreck bad enough to ruin its appearance and most its functions but not bad enough for it to become dysfunctional enough to stop driving or playing "Let it be" on loop, Chandan saw two children wearing GAP in the front two seats of the XUV-2000 which would drive over the ClaXXy with minimal harm to itself. Chandan's parents were almost entirely unperturbed by this sequence of events, barely registering the fact that a giant vehicle had just collided into and driven over a vehicle they were in. Chandan for the most part was using his adrenaline rush to determine how to avoid another accident. The ClaXXy was slowing down and as he saw the traffic on the other side of the road, it became apparent that Chandan was driving in the right direction. This meant that the other five cars broke the rules, including the one that caused the accident. The ClaXXy's audio system malfunctioned and it began to blare the song "LET IT BE" at twice the volume. 

    "STEP ON THE GAS!" implored his father over the sound of the beatles, eager to keep the car moving to whatever place this family had decided to go. "The other car was being driven by children! and in the wrong direction! I can still go catch them!", Chandan desperately pleaded, already sure that his parents won't approve. "Doesn't matter. You need to keep going. Let bygones be bygones. It's in the past now". Stunned and confused, Chandan got out of the damned ClaXXy as soon as it halted and ran towards a distant tea stall where he spotted the culprits of his misfortune - two children dressed in GAP- from whom he would exact some sort of justice or monetary compensation.. On catching up, they explained that they were driving the car to the hospital to visit their terminally ill mother. The owner of the tea stall looked at chandan with contempt and suspicion. Chandan asked for their address and contact details which the children provided and which would later turn out to be wrong. Unsure what else to do next, Chandan left for home. 

    "Where were you?", his father asked. "Getting contact details from the culprit to file for insurance". His father then explained why that was unnecessary. While chandan was gone and because Chandan had gone, the house had been robbed and the ClaXXy had disintegrated into nothingness. It turned out that the newer model had a self destruct mechanism if the owner of the vehile abandoned it just after an accident. It was built in to comply with some vague regulatory law that Chandan hadn't heard of before. The robbery of the house was unrelated. The ClaXXY had finally stopped playing "Let it be".  

pulkit manocha