The Turning Point

T. Shoba

17 year old T. Shoba is the daughter of truck driver E. Thangadurai and his wife T. Ammu. They are from Thiruvallur district of Tamilnadu. She is studying B. A. in English in Loganatha Narayanasamy Govt. College.  Shoba wants to join either banking sector or teaching in future.

My father is a truck driver. His occupation keeps him busy on the roads – away from home. He misses family like anything, even though he is equipped with mobile phone these days. Thirty years back, when he joined the logistics company, he had to try calling his family members only from paid telephone booths in petrol pumps or roadside eateries, for which he had to wait in a long queue. Nowadays he is happy being able to talk to my mother, grandparents and me every day, without hassles. True, truck is the second home to a long distance driver. Does that mean that they forget their first home? True they are rarely able to support families during the time they are needed the most. Does that mean they are not supportive?

I am now in college. I was a kid when my father was young. His supervisor wanted him to work for long hours. Sometimes he used to be on the road for weeks together. Now he regrets how he missed watching me grow. My mother raised me almost like a single mother while there was none else but my aged grandparents to accompany her during difficult moments. He however did not want to miss any of the significant occasions of my life, so ensured his presence at home on my birthdays. My mother took care of my studies. My father knew that I was a good student, but had the chance of learning about my performance in exams only upon reaching home after his long trips.

Few years back, I was preparing for 10th standard exam. He was on a long trip as usual. He and his co-driver had to carry an urgent shipment to Visakhapatnam. He had been on steering the whole day. So after dinner, he told the co-driver to take charge. Exhausted, he went to sleep on the bed inside the cabin. He did not know what time it was, as suddenly he felt the brake had been hurriedly stomped. Half awake, he heard some people screaming nearby. After some time, the door was opened; some people entered the cabin, started pushing him and cursing in foul language. He was not being able to get up due to tiredness. Finally, as he opened his eyes, he found the intruders were actually policemen. They dragged his co-driver down who had been on steering. It was a case of a road accident.

He was released from police station with the truck next afternoon; a case was registered in his colleague’s name. He came to know that his trusted friend took couple of drinks after he had slept and kept driving.  In the poor visibility of the foggy night of winter, he was not being able to see markings on the road. On the top of that, after he realised his fault, he was trying to come to correct lane overtaking a smaller truck from left. The other truck had a big dent whereas the side view mirror of my father’s truck was crashed in the collision. Fortunately, none had serious injury. He drove the vehicle alone to Visakhapatnam and came back home.

That was his last trip as truck driver with that company. He had to appear before court and police station couple of times in connection with the case. On the other hand, he knew how much I needed him before my exam. Balancing family life and profession became so stressful that he decided to quit job. Later he purchased a mini pick-up truck taking bank loan. Driving own vehicle is still stressful for him but he finds it less risky. He has the option to select a reliable helper to go with him after all.

The experience taught my father that a truck driver’s involvement in unwanted incidents is a matter of circumstances, not always own fault. Still, he says, one should always adhere to traffic signals and markings on the road. As per his observation, his co-driver was also efficient one. Only if he could control his drinking habit, he could prove himself to be a reliable driver, instead of an irresponsible one. Before joining the truck driver’s profession, a person needs to understand the importance of his task. Understanding eventually helps him to become a good driver.

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