Returning Favors

We were running out of private places to hangout.
I can’t stand crowds, and he don’t want the word to spread.
(It’s incredible how such a small community can be so desperate for ANYTHING to burn)

So he took me in his car to a very deserted area in the middle of a pitch black palm field.
He parked his car in front of an uninhabited house, and looked at me, “You’re sure about this?”
“Doubtless,” I grinned.

He got out of the car and came to my side, opening the door and sat himself in my place as I crossed over to the driver’s seat.
I buckle my seatbelt and remind him to buckle his.
I adjust my seat, the mirrors…
…release the hand break, pick up the clutch, press the accelerator…and d.r.i.v.e.


After a while, he broke the silence, “You really like driving, don’t you?”
“What made you say that?”
“Your face. It’s glowing with pleasure.”

[I’m not yet allowed to drive beyond gear-2, especially in these narrow, rural roads. I don’t mind; it’s his car, it’s his classes and he’s my tutor. The only thing that mattered is that I can drive.]

I asked him to light me a cigarette. The car slightly swerved as I picked it up from his hand, and I apologized.

“It’s fine; you’re controls are improving,” he took a drag from his own cigarette, and exhaled his thoughts, “why driving?”

“For the sense of competence,” I paused to concentrate when a truck passed by our car. “Baba still drives himself on 8-hour journeys from Jakarta to his village in the Middle-of-Another-Nowhere. And on these trips, I’ve never been able to say, ‘take a break and let me drive for you, Baba,’ and actually mean it, when I really, really do want to mean it."

I took a deep sigh, threw the cigarette out of the window and continued,
"There’s a distinct sense of satisfaction; when you can tell your dad to sit back and enjoy the ride for once in a while.”

I must've looked really sad when I said this, because I felt a pat on my head, hearing him say, “I make sure you will.”
He’s one person who knows a thing or two about unreturned favors to parents.

Yeah, we’re working on it.
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