Day 20: The car your father drove #100daychallenge

Dodge_Caravan_'97.jpg

I don't remember the exact day he bought it, but I remember how hard it was to let go. 

My dad's silver Dodge Caravan was like a fifth family member. One of the most iconic objects of my childhood.

We packed our lives into that van twice: once when we moved from Houston to New York and again when we moved from New York to Atlanta.

In New York, my parents (who held medical degrees and were practicing pediatricians and family physicians before coming to the U.S.) spent their days driving from convenience store to convenience store in that van, selling Coca-Cola products and phone cards to keep food on the table.

On the weekends, we'd join them on their escapades. I'm sure there were a lot of "Are we there yet?" moments, but all the memories I can think of right now have me smiling (and crying).

We'd play so many car games in that van. "I Spy" was a favorite. We'd play Antakshari, a sing-a-long game where you have to start a song with the last sound of the song before. It works best with Bollywood music.

In that van, my dad taught me how to sing ginans and qasidas. Ginans and qasidas are essentially religious hymns. And they're so beautifully poetic. 

In that van, my brother learned about the history of Islam and though he's not a very religious guy, he knows more about the caliphates and surahs than any young person I know.

I remember sitting in the middle row of seats on the passenger side, where my mom sat. I remember watching her laugh in the side mirror. I LOVE watching my mom laugh.

Sometimes when we were stopped at a convenience store, my dad would run back with blueberry and watermelon Push Pops.

Sometimes we'd park the car at Central Park and run to the ice cream truck. My brother and I always wanted the Bugs Bunny or Snoopy or Spongebob pop with gumball eyes. My parents either bought the orange creamsicle or classic drumstick.

I remember once, my mom told me our van was broken into while my dad was at Walmart. We lost thousands of dollars worth of phone cards that day. We couldn't afford to lose thousands of dollars worth of anything. I think that's one of the first times I saw my parents broken. But it didn't last.

Eventually, we packed everything up for Atlanta. Leaving New York was not easy for my brother and I. We'd grown to love it. We wouldn't understand until we got older.

That van was so beaten up by the end of its life with us. An explosion of Coca-Cola painted the inside of the vehicle in ugly brown polka dots. There were dents and a broken door handle. But saying goodbye was unusually difficult. I remember my dad getting emotional about it. 

To this day, my dad refuses to buy anything but a minivan. He keeps saying it's a classic family car, that nothing compares. My brother, mom and I all have SUVs and prefer them. I think he secretly does too.

The #100daychallenge writing series is my way of holding my right brain accountable for all the brain fog in hopes that I'll learn to creatively organize my thoughts and learn something(s) new about myself in the process. The challenge includes prompts from the San Francisco Writers' Grotto's 642 Things to Write About. You can also follow my #100daychallenge here.

Unapologetically yours,
Fiza