WHAT KIND OF A CAR
"We drove on, hoping the car didn't break down again. Jal was on tenterhooks that it would make it. Our hearts were in our mouths."
Meheru: "We were going at a good speed and Baba patted Jal on the back to show his approval. But soon afterwards, the horn stopped working. Baba asked, 'What kind of car have you brought me to use?' Jal said that it was the best he could find. Fortunately, besides the electric horn, there was an old-fashioned, rubber horn outside the car, one squeezed. But after two "toots," this horn too stopped working properly. Jal wrenched it from its holder and handed it to the boy to blow."
Mehera: "Jal gave an old-fashioned pompom [horn] to the boy and told him to hoot it out the window whenever he saw someone on the road. The boy was very happy to do this. From a mile off, he started honking the horn. Finally, Jal told him to do it only when the person was near."
"The boy in his enthusiasm," said Meheru, "would blow on the horn long before he needed to, and it was deafening. Jal told him, 'My boy, don't go POOOO so much ahead of time; just go toot-toot-toot when the traffic is nearby!' It was all we could do to restrain our laughter."
Just two miles short of their destination, Baba changed into the smaller car again. After a short distance, the car stalled and would not restart. Jal realized they had run out of gas. Baba asked Jal what he proposed to do now. Jal saw a bullock cart and went and spoke with its driver. For a fee, the man agreed to tow the car to a nearby dak bungalow, before it got dark. Slowly the car was towed.
"Baba must have been impatient," Mehera observed. "He would always prefer the car to go fast and, in fact, he had told Jal to drive faster this time to make up for all the lost time. Now this! Here we were going at bullock-cart speed! It was too funny. But we did reach a nice resthouse before evening." And from here the boy that Baba had brought along was sent back to his family.
MEHERA-MEHER, Vol 2, pp. 266-267
2003 David Fenster