Most people, when talking about a miracle that they are alive, talk about being born with an illness or birth defect. Thank you, goodness gracious, I was born a normal baby. When I am talking about miracles, however, they all relate to cars and accidents. So, yes, I have survived many times—three, if I remember accurately.
My Dad is a jolly man. Unlike many other Bengali men, my Dad never expresses any regret or disappointment of having two daughters. From a young age, he had left his country and family to search for something new—perhaps a better life than the one predicted for him at home. He is a responsible, respectful, and knowledgeable man with various experiences, who has his own way of doing things. He learns from almost anything and everything that he is near. What he didn’t learned, was from his mistake of leaving underage kids alone in the car.
My sister is seven years older than me. When she was three, my Dad parked the car to purchase ferry tickets. They were both on their way to our village in rural Bangladesh. She had been sleeping, so he had decided that he didn’t want to wake her and he wouldn’t take long to purchase the tickets. Before he knew it, she was awake and devastated.
That is what I know of her memory; this is what I know of mine:
I was three years old and I loved to go on car rides with my Dad. It was a summer day and my mom’s friend came over to our house. In the afternoon, my dad offered to drive her mom. I too, had offered to go along. Too short to look out the window, I seated myself at the edge of the seat and peered out into the familiar streets of Jackson Heights. Passing by Dunkin’ Donuts, I stood and called out, “Papa! I want a donut!”
“Not now, let’s drop Auntie home first.”
I sank back into my seat. A small feeling of rejection took over me. I was small, impatient, and Daddy’s little girl. I didn’t like to hear “no” or “later,” but before I knew it, Auntie was thanking and saying good-bye. We were on our back home and I realize that my Dad was not driving anywhere near Dunkin Donuts. Very sure he forgot about me because we we’re very close to home, I squealed, “Papa! My donut!”
“Oh yes! How about I get you a donut from the bakery?” He parked the car and turned around. “Do you want to stay here while I get it very quick?”
Wow! I must be grown up! I felt very responsible for myself. “Yes!”
He locked the doors. Nevertheless, as soon as I saw him cross the street, panic grew within me. I felt claustrophobic—not being able to take the heat inside the car or submit to the fact that I was left all alone. I opened the door; before I knew it I was running across the street. A large truck and traffic behind it honked at me. The corner bakery store had glass windows and doors. My heart was beating uncontrollably and I felt the heat of the sun. My sweaty hands first knocked on the door, I pressed them against that glass, which I was neither able to push nor pull. Through it, I saw my Dad’s face in horror, staring at me. Tears were pooling in my eyes. He opened the door and carried me across the street asking me what had happened.
By the time we were in front of our apartment building, my Dad was teasing me about telling my mother. I hoped he wouldn’t tell her, even though I knew he would. I was laughing too because I was embarrassed and scared about what she would do to me for running out of the car. How foolish of me.
The first thing he did after unlocking the door was call my Mother’s name…
Reflecting Upon “The Run”
It is funny when you realize how sharp or weak your memories are and what your mind has altered. What is even more interesting is how differently others remember the same event.
Firstly, want to confess that although I was born a healthy baby, I was not born normally. My Mother had extremely high blood pressure during the delivery period. She was then given anesthesia and was unconscious. I was a Caesarian baby.
My parents recently corrected my memory: I wasn’t three years old–there was no way I could have been. Children don’t develop vivid memories at such a young age. My Dad suggests I must have been four or four and half years old. Perhaps I say I was three to make myself sound more naive and innocent. Frankly speaking, I simply want your sympathy.
I lied. I hated–and I still hate sometimes, going on car rides. This is mostly because they bore me and I find myself falling asleep. I don’t quite know why I said otherwise.
I am unaware to what extent I am making this up, but I do remember honks. However, because no one else was there, I don’t know for sure if there was a huge truck coming towards me. Desperately, for two days, I have been wondering if the truck was a fragment of my imagination or my unconscious scaring me about what could have possibly happened to me. Fortunately, my Dad doesn’t remember me telling him any such thing. I believe that if it was actually true, and I did see a large truck, I would have panicked and stopped in the middle of the street; there would be no run. Now I am sure–I definitely am exaggerating.
My Dad was laughing at me–that I remember very clearly. While writing this I discovered that his teasing me was to cover up his guilt and his fear. My Mother revealed to me that my Dad was in fact very afraid.
Now I owe you, my reader, sincere apologies if you did feel sorry for four-year-old me.