5 Sept 2009

Sins of the fathers

When I was a little younger, I bought my first car. I was a little older than most drivers on the road, but I relished the freedom I had… speed and the lure of the open road were hard to resist. Now, in those days, there were not so many cars on the roads – sometimes on a weekend I’d be the only driver for miles on the highway.

The temptation to speed was increased when my cousin started being my mechanic. My car was a Mazda 323, and we’d change the carburettor to fit a bigger one, and also a bigger engine. The low speed bore in my carburettor was 120 (in a normal carburettor it’s supposed to be 80 for the low speed and 180 for the high speed jets). My high speed became 320.

My car guzzled some gas, but boy, did it move!

I still recall with horror (now) at some of my antics. I once took 11 minutes from in front of Penal Police Station to Metro Cinema by Library corner in San Fernando. In the night. In a light rain. I have 2 witnesses.

It used to take me 23 minutes from Port of Spain Hospital (over the Lady Yong Road) to reach San Fernando technical Institute in Tarouba. I have witnesses.

It took me 13 minutes from Fyzabad by Butler statue to Débé. Next morning I was afraid to drive the car because I had completed ‘finished’ the new tyres I’d bought. The steel belts were all ‘sprang’ out and totally cut through. I was taking corners at well over 140 kmph. No witnesses to this one, but thank God and the Holy Aloe… if a tyre had gone… ey, keep in mind those days didn’t have traffic on the road like now, eh.

Why am I revealing my wilder self? This lasted an embarrassing 2 years, until I curbed the need for speed willingly. That was when Punks mom became pregnant.

It’s amazing how careful I was in driving then, how I did not want to injure that little life that was part of me. Even now, when I go to Trinidad, and use a car, any friends I have with me accuse me of driving ‘like somebody’s old grandmother’. I don’t care. Driving in England had made that attitude revere road safety all the more.

Ari 02 With a baby Punks in the car, I was even more careful. First order, a car seat. Sure, it was a little expensive, but we had one, even if it was second-hand.

Next, baby in back seat. No questions asked. Mommy in back seat too with baby. She used to get pretty annoyed if a PYT sat next to me in the front seat if we were bringing or taking up friends to POS or any where, but that was the rule. Back seat!

Where am I going with all this rambling?

Well, I was thinking this morning of Sheila Ramjit and her daughter, 1 year old Vionna who died when her husband’s car hit an electricity post. Some people have done a roundabout defence of the situation under the guise of writing about something else. Well, not so much  a defence as an excuse.

Maybe some people think that the man driving, Shelia’s husband and Vionna’s father has been punished enough, as he has lost a wife and daughter at the same time. Some say he will be haunted by this accident for the rest of his life.

I can understand the man’s pain. I can understand him blaming himself. I can understand people blaming him. I can understand a whole lot of things except… where the hell was his head when it came to a few simple cautions about his baby?

To be continued…?