Names are important, and not just to people but to things and animals and yes, plants too. So it is no surprise that I label the things and people that are dearest to me with the most meaningful of names that endear them to me and further explain that bond. My car(s) is no exception. My first car was called Goretti simply because I felt that Goretti was a name befitting of a traditional but reliable and dependable person. The kind of person that holds you close to her bosom and right there in that moment you feel sheltered from all the ill in the world. My next car was Roseanne. She was a little red car, as red as a freshly bloomed rose. Also, just like a rose, she had her thorn, an aggressive engine hidden under a meek exterior. Like a rose, her presence in any place was hard to ignore because of how red she was (in my defence, the colour came with the deal, it was not by preference)
I currently drive a little black car that I lazily christened “Bad Black” but not after a not so famous city socialite whose skin is now far from black and increasingly looking like a raw sausage. Bad Black like the girls that came before her, is an extension of my heart. True car lovers will understand the relationship I share with her. She is nurtured the best way how and within the limits of my somewhat meagre resources. Her meals are but the finest; premium fuel. Her shoes never get too old; a tyre change is regular and often. If I could, I would bathe her in milk and honey, but for now, turtle wax is will do. The attention i give to her is borderline obsessive. A little whining, a little crying and I am at her side and off to the garage. She must be perfect and she must be happy because once she is, so am i. Not a thing out of place, not a scratch or dent that goes unattended to. One day, I am going to demand that my mechanic’s kids include me in their graduation speech because God knows my bills have taken them through school.
In spite of what some may call my neurotic infatuation with the appearance and state of my car, there is but a glaring dent above the rear left wheel of Bad Black. This was a result of a graze by what turned out to be an extremely arrogant and perhaps even exceedingly more foolish driver that decided to park a little too close to me in a parking lot that was hitherto empty, save for a Vitz that was parked in the far end of the lot. In retrospect, maybe the driver in question was afraid that if he parked close to the Vitz, his car too would catch the same disease that makes the Vitz look like an electric generator on 4 wheels…and i mean the ugly little ones used to power small shops. If that was his reason, wherever he is, I forgive him. If not, I pray that the gods of his ancestors bequeath unto his children, more wisdom than they did him; for the sake of those they will encounter.
What made this worse is that it occurred while I was out making merry with friends. Sharing good vibes and enjoying great music. The incident was brought to my attention by a friend who witnessed it happen. It was the perfect way to end my otherwise amazing evening, but would I let it? What was supposed to be an altercation with the tormentor of my dear Bad Black, ended up being a lesson to me. In truly uncharacteristic fashion, instead of losing my head as I usually would, I stood and listened as the driver who was in the wrong, told me off about how he did not see the need to pay me what I otherwise thought was a fair compensation for the damage. He did not forget to let me know how many cars he owned and how he was a seasoned driver. Why then could he not park his car without knocking mine, I wondered. After he had said his piece and i had held my peace, I took what he had to offer and never looked back. I did not even take his contact. Perhaps I was in shock from what had happened; my baby girl had been hurt, was in pain and there was not much I could do about it in the moment. With great fortitude, I went on to make the most of the night, and left the issue to be tended to another day.
Bad Black had been scarred and so had I, but the mechanic would be called in the next day and indeed he was. He took one look at the dent and made his usual dramatic remarks and went ahead to tell me how it had to be fixed immediately. It was ugly. It was a flaw on her otherwise flawless black body.
Almost a year later and Bad Black still bears this same dent. I never got it fixed. Partly because I had spent the money paid by the offender, that very evening. But mostly because I figured I would let it stay as a reminder. A reminder that imperfection does not make people or things imperfect. That I could still love Bad Black with this very small but still very visible flaw. The dent was not her identity but it was now a part of who she was. It’s a lot like how we should treat the people around us. People occasionally get scarred by other people and experiences and sometimes they have to live with these scars. They are impossible to hide and will tempt you to judge them and maybe even write them off. But before you do, find out their story, forget about the blemish just for a minute. You will be pleasantly surprised at the beauty that surrounds that scar.