Only last week, I was coming back to Kathmandu from a short getaway with my friends. A drive in the highway is always fun, even more so when it’s your friend’s new car. Having been on the road for a good 4-5 hours, my friend who was behind the wheels, was becoming quite adept at overtaking just about anything that stood in front of us. This usually is the norm for a highway drive, to overtake for as long as it is well premeditated. But no sooner as we reached the outskirts of Kathmandu, I had warned him against using the same approach there; for the roads were starting to become narrower and traffic movement higher. Just 5 minutes into my cautionary words, in the spur of the moment, he tried a difficult overtake and next thing we know, we were found wanting on the opposite lane.
My friend realized his mistake and immediately tried to make amends by doing the only thing he could do at that moment- reverse and make enough room to maneuver toward the correct lane. But then, no sooner as we were reversing, the micro van approaching us swiftly closed the room we were so desperately creating. At first, this little jibe went unnoticed. But it became quite evident that he knew what he was doing when he closed the gap again. Stretching our necks and scampering for that extra bit of room behind us proved to be futile. The driver’s face was filled with fury, and obviously he had some nasty words to greet us. For a good few seconds, we tried gesturing to him in a bid to convince him that we were trying to atone for our initial mistake and lapse of judgment. Yet still, he wouldn’t buy any of it and wouldn’t budge at all.
Now, if you know me well, I’m usually calm in these sort of situations, especially when it comes to annoying drivers on the road. That particular accolade should go to us this time, I know, but I completely lost it with the micro driver. I was infuriated with him for over-reacting on a situation we were happy to admit was our mistake. Something got to me, and I opened my seat belt with palpable fury showing on my face, in a way to gesture to the drive that if he didn’t stop his antics, I would have to ‘come out’ and deal with him. Of course, this wasn’t supposed to mean literally coming out for a showdown (you should look at my physique; fighting is the last thing I’d be doing) but the driver took it otherwise. No sooner had I done that, he came out of the van and stood outside my window gesturing to me to come out of the car and face him man to man. Now this wasn’t a very happy man and honestly, I was relieved that the car’s AC was on (meaning the windows were up). However, at a slight glance, I realized the car wasn’t locked, so there was every possibility that the driver could open the door and pull me out.
But I’m glad he didn’t.
For someone like me who is always trying to look for positives in every situation, the good thing in the midst of all this was that we managed to distract the driver from his incessant impulse to make us reverse backwards (perhaps back to where we had come from!), and we used the window of opportunity to pull out and get going.
I was mindful of avoiding eye contact or anything seemingly provoking to him in a bid to avoid any form of retaliation. I’m thankful that the micro driver somehow managed to keep his anger inside of him and not try to do anything that would entice a hostile reaction from our side- like pulling me out or throwing a rock at us from the gravel road.
In hindsight, I have become growingly appreciative of the driver for keeping his cool and refraining from further hostility. It must have been desperately hard for him, given how much he had lost his senses in the midst of anger to actually come out of the micro. But why did it get to his nerves so much that an apology from our side didn’t suffice? Was he frustrated with having to work during times of Dashain when he’d rather be spending time with his family? Did the sight of a private vehicle trying to stamp its undue authority on the road reminded him of his own aspirations that had fallen short of fruition? Had somebody offended him earlier and we were the release his hormones were looking for?
And what about me? Why did I act the way I did? Why did it take such unfortunate behavior to occur first for me to realize I was losing my mind? If I call myself an educated person, why was I behaving in a way that wasn’t the best example of one? Or was I being too protective of my friend even when I knew he was wrong to begin with?
I have found it awfully hard to answer both these sets of questions. But it made me realize that we can always attribute gratitude to people, places, and events in life that may, at that time, seem anything but positive.
I’m sure you’ve had similar moments in your life. How have those experiences shaped you as a person?
Sometimes, despite our best efforts, we act in ways that are inexplicable and show a different side to us-one we may not always be proud of; not just on the road, but in our daily lives. Yet still, it may inevitably be these set of experiences that serve as a catalyst to the becoming of who we really are.