Thursday, April 19, 2012

In memoriam: Si Banteng

February 2004. That was when it arrived at our home. My very first car. Or, to be exact, the very first car that I decided to buy by credit.

Maybe, to a lot of other people, that is not a big deal. But I was raised by parents who never bought anything by credit. They saved money, for long years, then made a big buy. My father bought his first ‘out of the showroom’ car when he was in his 60s. My mother, when she was in her 50s. So, I always thought of the same thing: that I would have my first car maybe after I worked for long years.

But of course, time was different.

When I finally got pregnant, we suddenly realized there was no way for us to fit in the car that I used, my mom’s first car actually. And we also needed a car that could go to rough terrains, so we could take care of a piece of land that my father left us with.

And there was no way we could wait for years to buy a car!. We needed it then, not years ahead. So, with so much reluctance, I decided I’d apply for the credit once we decided on a car to buy. In my head, I kept asking what if something happened. At that time I was pregnant with Tara. So I had this thought about what if I wanted to quit my job and became a freelancer to take care of this baby that we had been waiting for?!. How would I pay for the car?. But anyway…with all those silly thoughts, I moved on.

So the search began. And the choice fell to it: an S2 Nissan Terrano. We fell in love with the look, and the toughness. I loved its surprising lightness when driven though it looked very tough from the outside. And of course, nobody thought about how fuel inefficient the car actually was. Why bother when there was a company paying for all its expenses ;-) (the ‘beauty’ of living in a corporate world….at that time, at least).

We gave it a name, Banteng, or The Bull, because of its tough and macho appearance. And the journey began.

It witnessed the growth of my belly. When I was 7 months pregnant, it was not easy to ‘climb’ into it, really. But I think that made me stronger!.

It took Tara to her very first trip out of town when she was only a month old, visiting a good old friend of our family. It took Tara to her first taste of ‘school’ when she was in playgroup. And a good company to her till now she is in Elementary. It took Tara to every single class in her singing and drawing courses.

It witnessed Cip’s panic when we were in Semarang and Tara fell very ill. I had to be with her in an ambulance, and Cip followed us driving like crazy down from my in-laws’ home in Pudak Payung to the center of Semarang city. I heard him honking every single vehicle that came in between it and the ambulance. And it was a wonder how they both arrived safely at the hospital with that panic driving on a steep road down to Semarang.

It witnessed our joy when Cip bought 'The Cocoon' - our home. It helped us moving things, shopping, and we practically abused it to bring heavy stuff.

It was our companion – the three of us: my sister, Tara and I. It was in it that we went to Bandung and on the way Tara saw the very first ‘horse car’ with a real horse in it!. And she was ecstatic. And it accompanied us to many trips, witnessed many laughter and quarrels and screams and hugs and kisses and tears from Tara frustrated being teased by her auntie. It witnessed the bonding we grew as the ‘Three Musketeers’.

It took us going on little adventures.

It accompanied us on the first trip for Tara to go through the southern route to Semarang. It got puked by her thanks to the winding roads. It accompanied Tara to follow me around when I had meetings in or out of town and I wanted her to stay with me in the hotel. It accompanied me to all strange trips to clients’ offices :D

It helped me doing my job as an MD. I didn’t remember how many times it helped the team in Research International whenever we had events or workshops.

It’s made me felt good. Whenever I had to drive it, I felt really cool. Why? A little lady and a big car like that, c’mon! it IS cool, right?!. Once I got out from it and there was a black American nearby uttered, “Really nice car”. And that made me felt really good. Very stupid and trivial maybe, but hey, you need to feel good about things you’ve bought!.

I was never a person who got hooked with any things that I own. I look at them as enablers – enabling me to work, or look good, or whatever its function is. So when I bought our Banteng, I thought of it like that too. So 2 months back when we finally decided to sell it, or rather I decided to sell it (Cip never really agreed, but he understood my pain every time I had to pay for the gasoline now that it’s no longer covered by any company :D). I never thought for a second that I would feel sad about losing it. After all, it’s just a car!. And we’ll have a new one soon anyway so it should be fine.

But apparently, it’s not that easy.

Tonight’s Banteng’s last night to sleep in our home. In the comfort that’s been sheltering it for the past 8 years. And tonight, my tears fall as I write all these memories down. Tonight, suddenly I realize how important it’s been to our little family. How much space it’s taken in our life with us taking it for granted. Yes, it’s just a car, with no heart and soul. But it’s a car that we’ve loved and cared for the past 8 years. And it is also MY FIRST CAR!. When the 4 years of credit passed and I had all the papers in my hands, that was when I realized why my mother’s face was beaming when she told us she finally bought her first car. It did feel good. Really good.

And it has accompanied us so much. Yes, one can say of course it did, it’s a bloody car that moves when you want it to move, what do you expect!. But it’s not just that. It’s a big part of our family life. It’s witnessed Tara from the moment she was still in my belly. It’s grown old as Tara grows up. They are almost of the same age!. It also witnessed so many trips I had to make to the doctor when I was pregnant with Tara. It also witnessed those trips I had to take to finally have Lila.

But everything has an end. The curtain has to go down. So, Banteng’s era has to end, now. My life has changed. I needed something more sensible to spend on (and gasoline is not getting any cheaper either!). Rationality takes over. Emotion gets to sit on the pavement.

So with a heavy heart…. Good bye, Banteng. We love you lots. We hope your next owner will love you as much as we did, will take care of you well. And we hope you will have lots more adventures, go to rougher terrains, enjoy lots more trips…joyful trips filled with laughter.

(R I R I - 19 April 2012)

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