The Red Mail Van and the Black Car

November 25th, 2015, 4pm

I never quite understood the etymology of the process. Not that anyone offered an explanation in the first place; I simply took it as it came. The afternoon had become exceedingly hot, as two generally silent 11-year-olds began their chatter in the backseat of an old grey alto. It had been a tough day at school for me and my best friend seemed to notice that. We were at an age when wishing on shooting stars and the power of prayers had not been given the label of childishness, so my best friend began to explain an intriguing ordeal, a method to ‘make my wishes come true.’

“It’s very simple,” she began

“When you see the red-coloured Indian Post Van, you cross your fingers and think of your wish over and over again”

“Okay..” Yes, I did wonder how the Indian Post Van had anything to do with my bizarre wishes but she seemed to not have finished, so I kept the question to myself.

“You keep your fingers crossed and keep repeating your wish in your head until you see a black car. When you spot a black car, you point your crossed fingers towards it and slowly open them…”

“Why specifically a black car?”

“I don’t really know.. that’s what my sister told me, I didn’t ask”

Interestingly, my question seemed trivial after this reply of hers. I do wonder why.

It was a ride of 7 kms to my place, and after 10 minutes of anticipation and hoping we spotted an Indian Post van. I crossed my fingers with excitement, repeating my wish in my head like a chant. I realised that my best friend had crossed her fingers too. We smiled at each other as we looked out of the window to spot a black car. Five minutes down and I spotted a black car parked carelessly at one end of the road. I poked my best friend and pointed at the car; perhaps we could open our fingers to the same black car.

“No no taxis won’t do” she declared as I noticed a yellow sign on top of the car.


“I don’t know, I just know that your wish won’t come true if you open your fingers to a black taxi”

“Okay” My questions were overpowered by the excitement of the process. I have to admit, doing it for the first time was fascinating. The seriousness and the belief in my best friend’s eyes only added to my enthusiasm. Just a few minutes before we reached my place and had to say our goodbye’s for the day, we spotted a black car in the traffic. We opened our crossed fingers and smiled at each other. Our wishes were not to be revealed; she had instructed me beforehand.

I came home bursting with eagerness and anticipation. A conversation in the back of the car and the introduction to a silly little ordeal had completely changed my mood. Things that had brought me down in the day weren’t on my mind anymore. It’s amazing to recall how a little bit of hope had really turned my day around. And would you believe it, my wish actually came true! To be honest, I am not entirely sure that it did, but why else would I continue to practice this method of wishing had my first trial not been a great success? Years flew by, and each time I saw a red-coloured Indian Post van, I was ready to place my wish and cross my fingers. I confess, not all of them came true but certainly most of them did, and I think that’s what kept me believing.

A fews weeks ago however, something different happened. Coming home from school, I spotted the Indian Post van in the stagnant traffic, I crossed my fingers most involuntarily and expected my heart to generate a wish but — but nothing. I had no wish to make. I wondered how that was possible, it felt almost wrong to not have a wish. Red light changed to green and my car spend on. I, however, was stuck in that moment; pondering over how and why I didn’t have any wish to make. I reviewed my present status in all spheres of life and no, not everything was perfect but — but everything was good. So good.

I smiled. I had never believed in humans being content. We must always strive to do and be better, irrespective of how great we and our lives are, but in that moment, those few seconds when I had the red mail van in my sight, I was satisfied. There was nothing more I could ask for. Nothing more I wanted to ask for.

That experience opened up a whole new perspective of life for me. It’s exceedingly important to aim high, push yourself and always try to be a better human being; but sometimes I think it’s important to take a break. Open a tiny window to bask in the warm glory of all that you have achieved and become. All the good things you’ve done, all the wise decisions and the hard work you have put in to reach here, right where you stand today. Don’t keep this window open for too long though, sunburns aren’t pretty, but remember warmth is important. This perspective is important.

Don’t believe me? Fair enough.

You’ll meet your red mail van and black car someday.

In a different form of course, but for the very same purpose - to open that damn window.

David Wade and Ardra said thanks.

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Ishita Doval

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