10 True Stories of My Wira
After seven years, I have finally come to the finishing line of a funny game called a car loan. Sounds familiar? Of course, there are millions of car “owners” around the world who always fall prey to the lucrative credits offered by many financial “sharks”. Now, this month, May 2010, is a special month that I have long been waiting for. It is the month when I can at last claim for the ownership of my beloved Proton Wira 1.3, proudly made in Malaysia. And it’s a bit ironic that I’m celebrating this achievement in Melbourne, not in Malaysia.
So ladies and gentlemen, for all the magical moments and the glorious shits that my Wira has brought into my life, here are ten true stories behind this handsome car.
1. The Slutty Cousin
To begin with, this car was not registered under my name. For some reasons, I couldn’t use my own name because I was, uh, blacklisted. Yeah, what a shame. I should have changed the ownership of my loan-based motorbike before I sold it to my cousin who, without my knowledge, sold it to another irresponsible person who, to my worst nightmare, ran off with the motorbike and didn’t even bother to pay the rest of the loan. So, who was responsible? Yes, you are right – none other than yours truly, the legal owner of the motorbike.
Yes, pity me please. I was punished for the crime that I didn’t commit. I loved my dear cousin (who happened to be my close childhood friend) but I couldn’t help disowning him from my life. Without wanting to prolong the issue, I resorted to using my elder sister’s name to purchase the car. I was lucky to have a kind sister who let me use her name for proprietorship. So for the next seven years, I would be driving the car under the angelic shadow of my elder sister and the evil silhouette of my slutty cousin.
2. The Monstrous Decisions
I remember that day very clearly. I went to a car company in Kota Bharu with my Ayoh, my elder sister and her husband. I thought it would be best to have them around, but thanks to them, I was forced to make two bad decisions.
First, I wanted a hatchback type of car, but my elder sister insisted on a sedan car. She said that I might need a bigger space for my future wife and kids. Encik Ramdzan, my car agent, supported my sister’s idea with a big money smile. For the next seven years, I kept looking at the empty space and wondered when exactly my sister’s prophecy would be fulfilled.
Second, I wanted a brightly-coloured colour, like red or yellow, but my elder sister insisted that I should pick a mellow theme, like dark green. She said yellow looked so darat, out of fashion. Encik Ramdzan nodded in agreement again (why should he care?). For the next seven years, I kept looking at the pale colour of my car and wondered whether it was still fashionable in the market or not.
3. The Shaman Wash
Believe it or not, the first thing that my Ayoh asked me to do on my first day with my Wira was to have it washed with some “holy” water.
“I know one religious man who can do that,” Ayoh said confidently. I was not convinced at all with the idea of a “religious” car wash. It sounded like a crappy shaman type of business. I couldn’t believe that Ayoh, the respected Ustaz, asked me to do such a silly thing. But when I was finally at the religious man’s house, I was actually very impressed by the simple act of “water-making” with no burn incense or spell to invoke a holy spirit. After splashing some natural-looking water on top of the car, the religious man wrote something on a piece of paper, put it in a white envelope and handed it to me, in a stylish manner like James Bond.
“Never lose this envelope!” he reminded me politely. I put it in the car dashboard and it has remained there since that moment. As for the content of the paper, I didn’t even dare to open it, thinking that it would chase away its hidden “charms”. So the envelope remains unopened for seven years.
4. The Over-The-Top Betrayal
Here is another confession (of a Kelantase Rebel!) – I bought my car in Kelantan but I purposely registered it in the Federal Territory because I wanted my Wira to have a “city” identity, not a Kelantanese identity. So the car’s plate number starts with a W, not a D. Look, I worked in KL and I would be using the car most of the time in the city, so I didn’t want to be driving around with other car drivers staring at me with that hey-look-at-that-proud-Kelantanese-so-let-us-bang-into-his-green-car look.
So what’s wrong with that? Yes, good question. For me, it’s more than just a license plate number. It a strong statement of who you are and it somehow reflects your personality. People will easily “see” you through your fancy plate number. That’s why, celebrities (which includes my own father!) pay a lot to get the best-looking combination of alphabets and numbers for their cars. So don’t blame me. I just wanted something that made me feel me. If you care enough to read my previous posts, you should have noticed that I was a bit uncomfortable to be associated with a typical Kelantanese identity. Not that I was against my community (please, I don’t want to go through this anymore!). I was just at ease to be driving around in a car that flashes a “neutral” look. Just like that.
5. The Loyal, Old-Fashioned Pay Master
Hear this – I’m a good pay master – I never fail a single payment, month by month, year by year, for seven good years! My elder sister must be happy (I had no where to run anyway). As a matter of fact, I enjoyed lining up with other consumers at a bank. Paying monthly bills at a bank counter, in some weird ways, gave me the excitement (haha, you must be kidding, Hilmi). While other people preferred to sit back at home or in their office using a sophisticated online banking system, I’d prefer to do it in a traditional, physical way. I just didn’t trust someone else doing the payment for my car. Holding a hot receipt from a bank teller and looking at my car’s plate number printed on it always gave me the final satisfaction and creep every month. It was a fun, healthy habit. Standing instruction, which didn’t involve physical interaction, just didn’t work for me. I guess I belonged to that group of stubborn old men who still resist technological changes, haha.
However, things changed when I moved to Melbourne last year. Apparently, I had no other option to settle my monthly bills except doing it online (frequent monthly trips to Malaysia is such a bad idea). I should thank my dear friend Azrai, a seasoned banker, who helped me a lot with the nitty-gritty of banking jargons and whatnot. So during the final year of my car loan, I just trusted EON Bank and let the shark eat the money from my saving account (but I still miss lining up in a bank!).
6. The Golden Saman
So far, I’ve got only four “hot” tickets from road authorities (that’s an achievement, wasn’t it?). Three of them have something in common – it happened in a split second!
First, it was issued to me just an hour after I paid the down payment for my Wira. I left my car in front of Pasar Siti Khadijah in Kota Bharu to buy a newspaper. After a minute, I got back to my car and found a ticket nicely stacked under a wiper.
Second, I left my Wira outside KLIA’s Main Terminal Building and found a ticket a few minutes later. Quick and simple.
Third, I left my car at a parking lot in Taman Universiti for a few milliseconds to buy a parking coupon from a convenience store. But it was too late – I’ve got a ticket the moment I came back to the car. I was impressed by the efficiency of a ticket officer – he worked like Superman! But it’s unfair. How could he punish me for just a few seconds without a coupon (and I was in fact on my way to get one!). They should have rewarded me for the many times I patiently punched the holes of the coupons and put them on my dashboard. But these people didn’t care about good-doers. They only welcome wrong-doers.
Okay, the final ticket was a killing-me-softly type of ticket. My sister was not very happy when she told me that she received a letter from the authorities informing her that she had committed a road offense and prompting her to pay certain amount of money. Of course, it was me who did the bloody thing. The crime – the speed limit was 80 km/hour and I was charged for speeding for driving 86 km/hour! Unbelievable and ridiculous, don’t you agree? I didn’t remember whether I paid the fine or not. But it didn’t matter. The last time I checked, I paid my annual road tax with success.
7. The Honest Honker
Trust me, dear readers, those golden samans didn’t really reflect my true driving attitude (at all!). I was, and am, a civilized car driver, full of courtesy and good slick manners. If my car horn could talk, it would absolutely testify this fact. But too bad, it couldn’t talk for so many years. When it first threw its tantrums, it honked continuously without warning. The other drivers looked at me as if I was looking for a big fight. So embarrassed and irritated, I pulled all the complicated wires under the horn and, guess what, the horn died forever and was never revived. I did remind myself to have it fixed at a car shop, but after some time, I realized that I hardly used the horn. So why should I repair something that didn’t bring any difference in my life? So dear readers, listen to this – for so many good years, I had been driving my Wira without a car horn!
You see, I was happy driving without honking. While other typical Malaysian drivers honked their car incessantly to prove that they were true Malaysians, I just smiled at their acts and let them die peacefully with their Malaysian passports. Yes, for the record, I was a very patient driver. I was usually very quiet when driving a car (yeah, my mind might be actively cursing). When I was at a passenger’s seat and had to listen to all the vulgarities coming from my loudmouthed friends, I told them to be reasonable. I would say, “You should’ve set your mind already before you get into this car. You should expect that all Malaysian drivers are reckless! So shut up and drive!” They would look at me with those strange eyes, like I was born somewhere in Africa.
8. The Bad Moments
There were some bad moments that I wish I could put them in a box and throw them for good into dirty Klang River. Here are three of them.
First, I met my first car accident in Cheras. It was very minor. I was getting out of the Cheras Leisure Mall when my car’s front left signal light hit the other car’s front right signal light. It was a tricky and busy junction, so both of us didn’t realize that we had “kissed” each other. We both admitted our own faults and went our separate ways without much ruckus (that was close, wasn’t it?).
Second, it happened on the eve of Hari Raya. I was stuck in the middle of a terrible traffic jam in Pasir Mas when a motorist tapped my car window glass and showed me a sign I didn’t understand. I couldn’t figure out what was going on. It was raining and dark but I was pretty sure that I didn’t run over any old man or little kids on the street. So, I just kept driving and ignored the man. The next thing I noticed was that I was being followed by a dozen of other motorists. I was scared to death with the prospect of being beaten by the angry Kelantanese who looked at me with suspicion (oh, don’t forget that my car had a “foreign” plate number). So, for the first time, I pressed the accelerator pedal to the maximum. One of the motorists managed to smash his helmet into the glass of my car window, but luckily it didn’t break (but I could still see the slight scratch on the glass now). I kept driving like a mad man for the next 50 kilometres or so until I was sure that they were gone. I decided to lodge a report to a nearby police station. But when I told them about the “tragedy”, they laughed and told me to just “chill”. I silently said fuck off and went back home immediately, hoping that I wasn’t being followed anymore. Those crazy men must have recognized my car and they might one day come back again for me. I am still baffled up to now. The reason of the car chase is still a mystery (Phew – long story!).
Third, I left my car at an empty slot before I boarded an LRT in Gombak. When I came back, I found a note under a badly-twisted wiper. It said: “If you can’t afford to pay a parking fee, don’t even bother having a car!” Someone living at a nearby cheap flat must have been very angry with me. I parked at his private property. Sorry, there was no sign. Yes, it was my fault. I should’ve used a parking lot near the LRT station and paid the fee. But I wouldn’t condone your uncivilized “wiping” action.
So you see, I was lucky that I didn’t face any major calamities. The “shaman” piece of paper hidden inside the envelope in my car dashboard must have done its wonders!
(Oh yes, I had another freak incident in JB. Our legendary Miss Cekia & Mr Ceklet can tell you more about that.)
9. The Best Times
There were a lot of reasons for me to smile when I think of my Wira. Whenever I sat behind the wheel, I would immediately get lost into the music played through the CD player. Oh, speaking of a CD player, that was one of the few rare things that I did to turn my car into a “queen” look. Besides a small, sporty steering and cheap sports rims, I was just happy with the default setting of my Wira. Sometimes, I would be amused when I passed a cheap car trying very hard to look like an expensive car. Why would someone display such a dishonest “decoration”? If you can’t afford a Honda, why don’t you just be proud of your little Kancil, you cheap prick! Sorry guys, I might have my own dream car, but I was perfectly okay with my handsome Wira.
Ops, sorry to digress. Where was I? Oh, about the music thingy. Yes, I always looked forward to driving my car so that I could indulge myself with the music – Hollywood, Bollywood, Korean, Malay – you name it. I spent a great deal of time compiling the best music I could play in the car (Jimi is always an excellent source!). In the end, driving became a beautiful therapy for me. I enjoyed driving alone to many unknown places. I wouldn’t forget my frequent spiritual journeys to Jimi’s place in Kampar. Or driving past the many lakes around KL. Or sitting down silently in a car next to Senibong or Stulang Beach overlooking the Straits of Johor. How good it was to have a loyal car that listened to my ramblings without protest and just became as hopelessly romantic as I wanted!
But the real magic happened when I had a company of family members and friends inside the car. I wouldn’t forget when I took my Ayoh and Ummi into places around KL or JB. Or when I spent long hours of talking and laughing with my dear younger sister Pilah during a distant journey from Pasir Mas to KL. Or during a slow ride from KL to JB with Azrai’s snores as my loyal company. Or when Jimi and I sang our hearts out inside the car and listened to our favorite songs like it was the first time we heard them. My other friends would usually praise my driving skills whenever I weaved through the complex streets inside KL or JB. I would smile when they said, “Whoa – you know all the back-street secrets around here!” Indeed, I was an adventurous driver who was always ready to explore into any possible nook and corner on earth.
10. The Chaotic Ending
Every year during the loan period, I had a special arrangement with the car agent in Kota Bharu with regard to the road tax renewal. I would transfer the money to their bank account and they would send me a new road tax by mail. It worked just fine for me for 6 years, until I returned to Kelantan recently and went directly to their office to claim for the car grant (Ayoh said I could get the grant by then since the loan period was almost over). To my horror, they said that the bank had misplaced my car grant! When I told my elder sister about this, she was just as furious as I was, thinking that the bank should have kept a proper record. I was a bit bitchy with the bank officer, bossing him around with my proud attitude and teaching him about the morale and all that shit. I thought I should report the bank’s serious lack of efficiency to a major newspaper company or a national TV station. But Ummi asked me to cool down for a while.
After a few sleepless nights, I had an epiphany – given the rate of my own absentmindedness and self-doubt, was is possible that I myself had taken the car grant? I called my elder sister and asked her to check her closet more properly and, guess what, she found it! Then it all came back to me – I was the culprit who DID claim the car grant from the bank the year before and physically gave it to my elder sister to keep it safe!
I was just as ignorant as the bank (and my elder sister too!).
By the way, I’m happy that the car loan will soon be settled. I will see to it that my name will be finally printed on the car grant and, after seven years of a long wait, the Wira will officially be, drum roll please, MINE!
My Handsome Wira, in his best green elements