Towards the day nearing the big test, Cik Kassim gave me 2 runs on the test route. He pointed some of the spots that learners often made mistakes and reminded me to take extra care there.
That historical morning, I went to the test center and took my number. The test went in two sessions. The first session was done within the test compound. I did alright with the S-turn, U-Turn, parallel parking, 3-point parking and the rest went unexpectedly smooth.
The second session was the actual driving on public road. We were given a white Kancil. A young, late 20ish, slim Malay man sat next to me in his JPJ-official uniform. He was already in the car waiting for me to climb in. Before I started the engine, he confirmed my name and identification. I made the proper preparations when starting the engine, mirror, looked front, back and the whole gimmick. He had a report paper attached with a paper board and he kept putting marks without looking at me at all.
That man was stone-cold, his voice made me thought that I was made to flop. I felt like there was an unspoken message warning me, "one wrong move and you're a dead bird, lady!" from him.
I was shaking inside-out, not because of driving but because of the fear for this tester. The test-runs was about 5km if I remember. But, with the no-nonsense icy-cold man sitting beside me, it seemed endless. I was actually looking forward to ending it soon.
So, we came across a T-intersection traffic light. Two signal light side-by-side. Straight road, green light...I saw that. So, I went...afterall it was green.
Then, this booming voice screamed at me, my urinary tract almost letting go...
"Kenapa awak jalan, lampu tu kan merah!"
"Merah? Bukan merah, itu hijau", I said timidly, trying hard to control my bladder.
"Awak berhenti sekarang juga, tukar tempat, awak gagal!"
Whoa...on the spot, I failed, so I said my stand again.
"Saya jalan sebab itu lampu hijau!"
Then loud and fierce, he said, "nampak tak ada dua lampu, yang hijau tu untuk jalan lurus dan yang merah itu berhenti sebelum belok kanan, awak seharusnya tunggu lampu belok kanan itu jadi hijau baru boleh belok...
....AWAK BUTA KE?"
After changing seat, he drove all the way back to the test-center with me trying to keep my eyes dry. I was sobbing inside. I knew I failed, so I just jumped in a cab immediately and head for home.
Let me count now, altogether I had like 40-plus lessons, putting together the time I had with the famous Lesby and Peterson.
I went into mourning period for two months. In the meantime, I tried to avoid taking cab after that memorable incident at the golf range parking lot.
I often used the company driver after that. But company drivers were unrealiable lot. They were forever late and always had valid and official reasons for it.
Moving around in Johor Bahru was becoming very stressful for me. Also, being driven by company driver always put me in dilemma.
During lunch time, he would be waiting for me and forgoing his own lunch. Sometimes I had to buy for him lunch and occasionally, we took lunch together.
Us. Eating together and chatting like some old time pals. On some occasions, talking topics could reach personal level and I hated being too personal. I might not know, the very next day, my personal routine would spread like bush-fire on the factory floor!
Life was so stressful. I must get that paper even if I had to die for it. I went to see Cik Kassim again. This time, I took the pay-till-u-pass course. I told Cik Kassim, I didn't want to go on his car, I insisted on a better car. The driving school gave me a new instructor with newer model car.
This instructor targeted only 5 lessons for me and told me to get ready for the test again.
He wasn't teaching me driving so much because by then I was used to the wheels, after all latest count was like 50 hours of lesson altogether. We just went everywhere on the road with the intention of making me get used to the traffic. He would stop suddenly and instructed me to do the 3-point turn when he saw the road was clear, that was how it went with the 5 lessons.
So, I made my way to the test-center again and this time I made sure I emptied my bladder real good.
Same procedure as before but this time the examiner was a fatherly-figure, 40ish, cheery voice with a "5-month pregnant" tummy.
This time I was given a different test-round and I heaved a sigh of relieve to know that I would't have to go through that same T-intersection that flopped me before.
I went through the very end of the test-route and managed to finish up neatly. Of course, I had to wait this time for the result. Tougue-biting, nerve-wrecking and when I heard my name being called, I went to the counter and collected my report.
20 movements and 4 pangkah. That meant....
Let me see...3 years in Wales with 35 hours lesson. Almost a year in Malaysia with 15 lessons, altogether 700 Br. pounds plus RM1,500 and 50 solid hours.
What did I feel when it set in that I passed?
I could only afford to smile. I was alone in the crowd. That place was so noisy, loud-speaker calling names and car numbers and I sat down to stare at the marking report for some timeless moment.
I can drive, I can drive now...that was the only noise I heard over and over in my head.
One week later, I went to a car-showroom and that time Kancil was just 3 months in the market. I saw this beautiful, blood-red, small bettle car and paid cash in two parts, that showed how desperate I was to drive. They delivered the car within 2 days.
Initially, I drove around the neighbourhood to get used to the car. Then, came an unexpected hassle from hubby. He didn't allow me to drive because he believed I bribed the tester, one way or another. He didn't believe I could pass the driving at all!
He took the Kancil key and told me to return it back to the shop.
Hubby never trust anything in Malaysia. However hard I convinced him that I earned the passing with strong determination and hardwork, he still never believed me.
The arguments were big and long.
Even though he took the Kancil key away, I still had a spare. I used the spare in the daytime to drive around and made sure by evening the car was in the front porch.
This went on for two weeks until one day he came home early to find the house empty. I brought the children to their swimming class and told him slowly that I had a spare key and had used the car.
Heavily and unwillingly, from that day on, he let me drive.
I did not forget the two person who pushed me so hard to success.
Sally, who had moved to New Zealand by then, gave her a thank-you card telling her of my passing and my appreciations.
Not forgeting Shida. I went to her house and gave her a Japanese tray. She was happily surprised with the gift without occasion to celebrate and happier still when I told her my appreciations for the push from her.
Well, I was with Kancil for only 6 months and again hubby got the order of transfer. This time, back to Japan.
In Japan, I needed a Japanese driving license and hear me out... another rounds of test again.
Continuing my love-hate driving episode in Japan.