Thoda sad story hai toh if you’re in a happy-happy zone, badme padh lena.
So December was going slow and sad for me as is, but the one thing I was looking forward to was the Goa trip planned with my wife, sister in law and a couple of close friends (literally, a couple). Kaafi planning ho chuki thi, peak season mein Goa, that too road trip and Goa is anyway home away from home for me. Meine kaafi places shortlist kiye hue the sabko leke jaane, secluded spots, food places, shopping ke places and so on.
We left on the 26th of Dec 2022 after enjoying Christmas in Pune. Reached Goa in the afternoon and set the tone for the rest of the trip instantly walloping half of the sea in our first meal. Uske baad, everything was going as per plan, for my anniversary my wife and I went separate for 2 days staying at a beautiful resort on the beach, loved every bit of it. After that we were fulfilling our middle class Indian dream, full on Goa vibes with the gang, there were some on and off major personal issues bothering me beechme, but with these people around, issues were not taking up a lot of my headspace.
New Years party in Goa was going to be the highlight of the trip, but google pe party dhundte dhundte jaan nikal gayi. After making a few calls around, we got a recommendation of a place in North Goa named Emerald Lawns and the party hosted there was supposed to have proper goan jive music and a formal event so we were excited. Toh plan was fixed, it felt like a sasta sundar tikau option. 31st morning se 2 of my friends were feeling low, buss aise hi, no apparent reason. We still made sure we don’t waste a day so we head out, chilled here and there and back home to get ready for the party.
On the way to the party, everyone was super low on the mood scale, everyone was just sleeping in the car, besides the driver. It felt like we were heading to a funeral rather than a New Year party. When we reached, we started slow, taking it all in, few dances and then it picked up a bit.
Roughly 11:55pm, 5 mins to the New Year, I’m super sweaty, anxious, and just not feeling right. I move away from the crowd to the side, chug a bottle of water, still feeling weird but bearable. It’s soon going to be 12 in a minute or so, my gang calls my wife and I to celebrate with them and we went. It’s 12, I kissed my wife, wished everyone around, watched one firecracker burst in the sky. One firecracker. The wishes continue and an announcement is made.
“Theres a red car on fire” in a usual scenario, I don’t know if I’d react to this, but with the way things had been going, I just ran out, I didn’t wait for my wife, nor friends, just ran. As I ran, I heard someone say it’s a Brezza. My heart sank, but my feet were still moving, and another individual said it’s a “MH” passing vehicle. I cannot express the feeling. I can’t. I reached the spot and saw my car, my beautiful Red Brezza which I loved to bits, was on fire.
There’s a saying “Don’t kick a man when he’s down”. This was that and more, this felt personal, like a curse, like the world against me, like someone screaming in my face “F*** you, You lose”, like the end. I remember shouting a bit but losing sense of what was happening. The venue hosting such a big event didn’t have fire extinguishers, and made an announcement asking the crowd for it. That’s when I knew, it’s over.
You remember that one firecracker that burst in the sky? It was one cause after that the whole box tilted and was facing my car from a distance of just 2 metres. Sheer negligence and stupidity at it’s peak, who lights a box of firecrackers in a full parking lot? Why would the organisers not have fire extinguishers at such a big event? When I just reached the site, I watched the last 2 firecrackers hit my car.
No one like to see tears in their loved ones eyes, I seen my wife broken to bits, screaming and weeping as she watched.
That’s the first time I used the phrase to her “it’s just a car”. “It’s just a car, it’s okay, we’ll get a new one, doesn’t matter” Makes sense na? Logical hai, it’s a materialistic thing, dusri aajayegi.
But the new one will not be dads, it won’t be the one he bought after we went for his angiography and without telling mom took me along to the showroom and just booked it like it was shopping for shoes. Nahi paisa utna nahi tha, but zidd thi ki badi gaadi leni hai toh le li. He was a horrible driver (sorry dada) so he banged it often, and he knew how much I loved it, so he wouldn’t tell me or anyone at home, he’d go to the service centre, get it fixed, but he didn’t realise that my phone was registered so I’d get the messages and calls saying, “Bonet has been changed, Bumper has been fixed” etc
I remember my mom being mad at my dad for buying a car like that, especially when we had a home loan ongoing but I think I understood what was going on in his mind. India mein a car is not just means of transport, it’s a status symbol, and badi gaadi thi yaar toh better status, for him it was a little bit of that but also he had a very humble beginning, I don’t think he’d have expected himself to be in that position to be able to make a purchase like that, and when he seen the slightest bit of opportunity, he took it. To him, it was a milestone. For sure. Ki yaar, zindagi mein kuch toh ukhaad liya hai. EMI bharnge, par ukhaad lenge thoda.
And that same car was burning, the flames just getting bigger, and us hopelessly watching. “Why didn’t you put water? Why didn’t you throw mud? Why didn’t you do this and that” That’s what I got from people later on. How do you put out that a big flame from a car that has a tank full of fuel? With a bucket of water, with a handful of mud?
When I think of my relationship with that car, I can only think of this line, “Woh thi toh kisi aur ki lekin usse chahne wala koi aur tha”. The sound of the engine, the comfort, the premium shift from the Wagon R, the power, everything. I only allowed people to drive it once I was confident in their driving skills, it soon became a privilege if you got to drive it.
The number of roadtrips, late night drives, drama, loud horrible singing, gossips, soo much has happened in that, how can it be just a car? I don’t get it, I can’t. If it was so easy as people say, Why didn’t the tears stop that night? Why 30 days later when I still see a Brezza on the road I’m lost? Why seeing a big flame still terrifies me?
See I know what parting away from a vehicle is like, gaadi toh humne bhi beechi hui hai. But ussi cheez ko rakh hote hue dekhna is not the same thing. It’s freakin traumatic.
And the worst night of the year didn’t end there, it merely started. The negligent organisers came in with the most diplomatic approach and started with a long back and forth conversation and they made sure to take their time to “Think and discuss internally” where infact they were entertaining guests, drinking alcohol and just wanted us to not create a scene till their party ended at 6am.
Till 6am we were there, in the cold, having pointless discussions with people who didn’t really care about what happened but just wanted their party to go on successfully. They offered mere change and in turn wanted to close this without a scene and have they’re details disclosed. They offered change with terms and conditions that wouldn’t even allow me to buy an Alto.
Unpreparedness, negligence, carelessness has a price to pay and pay they will.
In all of this, when I look back, I feel terrible but every cloud has a silver lining. For me, the silver lining was my support system, the group of people I was with. You must wonder like I always did, that when shit happens who’ll really be there for you, who’ll really go the extra mile, who’ll be the shoulder you need to cry on, who’ll be the person to stand up and say you don’t worry i’ll take care of it, who’ll fight for you and alongside you no matter what, who’ll do anything to cheer you up when they know your dying inside. Well, I don’t wonder anymore.
Heard the saying “Blood is thicker than water”? Hear something better:
Rishte khoon ke nahi ehsas ke hote hai, agar ehsas hai toh ajnabi bhi apne lagte hai, agar ehsas nahi ho toh apne bhi ajnabi lagte hai.