Tuesday, June 19, 2007
The Father, The Daughter and The Bug
In honor of Father's Day (belated), I thought I'd share one of my fonder memories with my father:
When I was a sophomore in high school, my parents decided that my father should drive me to school (actually, I'm pretty sure my mother decided this). This despite the fact that most girls younger than myself were going to school on their own, and that my school and my father's business were in opposite directions by about half an hour. After a while though, our morning drives were a little bit of quiet time we shared. He would sometimes try to make me open up and talk about things, and I would generally try to stick to topics I knew were safe and wouldn't get a bad reaction first thing in the morning. Most days, it was a pretty quiet ride.
One cool autumn day, I was pouring over my geography book on the way to school. I just knew my religion teacher would call me to the head of the class and quiz me (that's what most teachers did--and still do on a weekly basis). The ride was pretty uneventful, until we hit traffic and my dad started commenting on how late it was getting. I was more worried. For the first time all semester, I was ready for religion and I didn't want to miss class because I was too late.
When we got close to school, Dad said the same thing he said almost every morning, "Be careful crossing the street. People aren't paying attention as they drive." Which is true. Iranians can be a dangerous people on the road, whether they were driving or jay walking or just hanging out on the middle of the street checking to see if they know anyone walking by.
Exemplary youth that I was, I got out, went around the back of the car glanced to the left and waited for traffic to pass before I ran across the road. Suddenly, I felt something hit me and go up my leg. The impact knocked me off my feet and threw my books out of my hand and into oncoming traffic. By the time the movement stopped, I was pinned under my dad's VW Bug, with my upper body facing oncoming traffic. After what seemed like an eternity, my dad got out of his car and stood over me in complete shock, asking what any good father would, "What are you doing down there?"
"Nothing." Perhaps my casualness added to his sense of confusion. Meanwhile I was in agony, lying on a busy street with a car on my right leg and traffic whizzing by, and getting close to missing my religion class.
He quickly came to his senses and got back into the car and moved it off my leg, helped me up and tried to get me in the car. That is when my true madness kicked in.
"I can't go anywhere, I have class! I have a religion quiz--you'll make me late." The fact that I could barely stand, was a minor detail--I was overcome with adrenaline. He managed to get me back in the car, where I sat scowling at him, urging him to hurry and get me back to school. The first thing out of his mouth since he had found me under his car was, "Do you think your mom needs to know? I think we shouldn't worry her about this."
It was a rare occasion that my father would worry about what anyone else thought. While he has many wonderful qualities, concern for what others think is not one of them.
"I promise not to tell her, just get me back to school. I don't want to study for religion two weeks in a row!!"
I did not prevail, he kept on driving until we got to the closest hospital--the shiny new Rassoul hospital which was semi-private. As we drove up, he tried to drop me off at the front door.
"Don't wait for me, just go and check into the emergency room."
"I don't know how."
"Just go and tell them you got hit by a car. They'll take care of it."
"Where are you going?!"
"I'll park the car and wait for you in the cafeteria." And with that, he drove off.
I hopped my way to the admissions desk, told the nurse I was hit and pinned down by a car and that my leg hurt more than an average pain level. She whisked me away and had me sit behind a curtain, where a doctor appeared in a few minutes, confused before he even saw me.
"You got hit by a car and hopped in here by yourself? I swear to God, the people of this country get crueler and more heartless every day. How could they leave a child on the side of the road to fend for herself? La illaha il-Allah! You're very brave for making it to the hospital on your own. Do you remember what the car or driver looked like?"
I was getting a little overwhelmed and dizzy, which is why didn't realize he was cursing my father for being a hit-and-run driver. I should have said, no I didn't see who it was, but I was feeling faint, and exceptionally honest.
"It was my dad--he drove me here and is in the cafeteria. Do you think it will take much longer? I have a religion quiz."
He stopped what he was doing, holding my swollen and bruised leg in mid-air. "What is your father's name? I'll page him."
"Please don't yell at him, it will take too long and I'll miss my quiz."
By this point, I kind of knew that focusing on that damned quiz was the only distraction I had to keep me from collapsing and giving into the pain or looking at my ugly leg. It was also the last thing I seem to remember other than a hazy fog of x-rays and questions about my marital status.
Turns out, I was fine. My leg was bruised, swollen and hideous, but not broken. I never took the quiz, although I was called to do so around the same time I was hopping through the ER. My teacher gave me a suspicious scowl as I hopped into her class, guided by the principal, with only 10 minutes left of her class. I even volunteered to take the quiz, which seemed to make her more suspicious.
I tried not to tell my mom what had happened, but she figured something wasn't quite right when I got home almost two hours late, hopping through the front yard.
I will say though, it was one of my fondest memories on my morning rides with my dad.