Farewell, Dear Friend..
The other day I bid adieu to a very dear friend. I remember the friend with a lump in my throat and I cannot help, but get a trifle sentimental and emotional when I recollect our association.
I let go off him the other day after a very close association of more than two decades. I should probably have let him go many years ago, but somehow I just could not get myself to do so. There have been other friends who have come into my life after him and have been welcomed equally warmly and affectionately into the family. But he was truly special.
I am talking of my very first car. Of considerable vintage, he carried himself with pride and had a jaunty air about him till the very end. We became friends when I was doing my residency in Medicine and he helped me through that daunting phase. The leather interiors were a welcome haven from the onslaught of the rigours of clinical medicine and the awfully heavy OPDs and the unending ward work and the seniors breathing down your neck and back. When I got in, I was king and nothing and none else mattered. We were both extremely fond of Brahms and Chopin and he would ensure the best fidelity and quality sound from the rather old music system. He was very particular about his health and ensured that I would not waste time taking him to any mechanic or garage- he continued to chug along faithfully.
Towards the end of the month, when I was invariably a trifle hard up, he would gallantly whip himself and stretch the last bit of petrol to unimaginable miles on the road. He was my friend, philosopher and guide and would listen silently as I raged or raved about something or the other. He carried my wife and kids over the years for hospital visits, school concerts, competitions and various events. He never let me down when the family needed him. He also helped transport hysterical neighbors, bawling kids and drunken colleagues as and when needed; at weird hours of the day and night- never a whine of protest…
When he started becoming a little wheezy and started looking a little run down – a fresh coat of paint and some snazzy new accessories and he was back in business and like how! He got a new lease of life and he was ready to string it out for a few more years. I acquired new sets of wheels over the years; he might have felt slighted and jealous but never did he convey his displeasure in any way. I thought at times of letting him go and let him rest but he would not have any of it. He would perform more enthusiastically and I felt bad even thinking of letting him go.
But you can’t defeat age. The visits to the garage and examinations by the mechanic started becoming more frequent. He was kind of struggling to cope. He was feeling guilty letting me down again and again and I finally allowed myself to be convinced by him to let him go. An elderly neighbour decided to take him into his family for his morning drive to the walking plaza and back- he said he had no where else to drive and he needed a set of wheels only to transport him in the morning. I thought he would be well cared for with him.
I dropped him off at his place and I said my final goodbyes. I wanted to make it the least painful for him. I stroked him one last time and turned around. I really thought I saw a tear roll down from him or was it the radiator leaking??