The way from my home to my college involves a 3 hour drive on the state’s only 3 lane expressway. The expressway is level for the first hour and a half, and then it climbs up a hill and then levels off onto a plateau. And then an additional hour of driving brings me to the gate of college. Usually the expressway has zero traffic, making the ride a pleasant one. If you have never driven on an expressway, you would be blown away by the vast expanse of the road. All you have to do is put your car into fifth gear and sit back. There’s no intermittent stopping, acceleration that is the identity of city traffic.
But even this freedom and escape from the city traffic gets boring after a while. That was one such day. I had driven to college, in the middle of noon. I couldn’t see the sun, but its fury could be felt in the eyes. Sunlight reflecting from the ground had strained my eyes to the point that they were tired. And after a 3 hour long back ache, I reached college. I was there to complete some admission formalities.
Fast forward to that evening, I was ready to head back home. That was when the dark clouds appeared (not a metaphor). An exuberantly bright sunny day turned into a dull cloudy mess. And then as if the worse hadn’t happened already, it started pouring. Literally pouring. Like some divine creature was standing above the clouds, emptying his cosmic bathtub onto the world. Rain has this effect on me, it makes me irritable. And when I’m irritated, my words turn to hysterics.
Ah so where were? Yes! It was raining, and I’d never driven in the rain. But I wanted to get back home badly. So I decided today would be my first, I’d lose my virginity. Today I would drive in the rain.
A few minutes later, my car joined the expressway from an adjoining bypass. The first thing I noticed was that the amount of traffic was ordinary but yet cars were driving slower. When the roads were dry, drivers would rev their cars well above 100 kmph. But today it was raining, and there was a risk of slipping. So every car remained well below the 80 kmph speed limit of the road. And being a stickler for relaxed driving, I breathed a sigh of relief. Now I could drive at 60kmph, and enjoy the views around me.
For the first time in years, I could steal a few moments to look around while driving. And this is an outpouring description of what I saw.
The roads are glistening in the light of the evening sun. Meanwhile, vehicle large and small pass by me as they speed to their destination. Their tyres spray water from the road into the air, making it look like they’re driving on small clouds. This is driver’s heaven, I say out loud. There’s no one in the car, no one will find me insane.
And then the road rises up the hill, it is the edge of the plateau. The visibility starts decreasing slowly. I have to turn on the AC to keep my windscreen from fogging. And then I turn on the headlights and the fog light. I look at the rear view mirror to see if other cars have done the same. But I forget my intention and stare at what I see behind.
The road is covered with clouds. All one can see are headlights. The vehicles cannot be seen. It looks like giant fireflies have taken over the road. I turn my attention back to the front, lest I desire my own death.
Soon the pouring stops. And the clouds gradually part, not all of them though. The road starts to descend into the plains. The plateau has ended. And after a few minutes of climbing down, the road levels off again. That is when I breath a sigh of relief. My first time driving has proved to be a success. And as a reward, I let my eyes steal a quick glance at the sky.
I see a red sun, flanked by retreating grey clouds. And all of a sudden, I forgive the sun for causing me discomfort in the noon. I smile wide. This small display of nature’s elegance feels like a medicine to sore eyes.
I didn’t mention one thing in this whole extract. Every other moment, I cursed myself for not bringing a camera to capture what I saw. And then I thought to myself, this isn’t worth capturing. This is worth writing about. After all, the job of a great writer is to create an image in the minds of readers. And the job of a photographer is to tell a story through his image.
Write what must be seen and capture what must be written down.