The lost car keys

The lost car keys

We woke up late to the need for a safe network of quality highways in our country. Europe and America have had them for long, with helpful road signs, well-spaced resting places and eateries.

People would rather drive long distances in their cars with family, even late into the night, than use public transport. A drama of sorts was acted out, for our benefit as it were, when my wife and I were in our daughter’s house in the US on a visit not long ago, the highway system playing a silent but stellar role.

Our relatives from far and near, travelling by car, were gathered on a Saturday evening for a birthday party. After early dinner, time to return home, two families, who had to drive the longest, left.

Then the third family, concerned that their sons, aged three and six, could become cranky as the evening wore on, decided to leave. The younger one was already asleep and would have to be carried to the car.

“Take the car out, I will bring the child,” the lady directed her husband. “You were at the wheel and should have the keys,” he replied.  “Forgetful you!” she retorted.

“You took over in the last stretch.” “Oh yes, I left them on the living room table,” said the husband. But there were no keys there. “Maybe you left them on some other table,” she suggested. “Or just put them in your pocket.” An all out search everywhere yielded no result.
 The visitor suddenly remembered her younger son’s fancy for keys. She had put together, in his toy box, old keys of various shapes and sizes lying in her house, strictly prohibiting playing with any other keys.

 Had he taken the missing keys to play with? With much difficulty she woke him up. Splashing cold water on his face and offering the bribe of a toffee, she made him talk. He denied the charge.

 Still drowsy, he responded after some more coaxing. “The keys were on the living room floor,” he drawled, “I put them in the handbag.” She emptied her bag but to no purpose, and he slid back into sleep. 

My wife cut in to say, “Were there not two more bags on the table?”  Yes, the others recalled, but they had gone with their owners who had left. The ladies, who were well on their way back home, were called on their mobiles. Finally, the keys were traced to the visitor, who had left first.

 She was well over a hundred miles away. Undaunted, she agreed to drive back along the highway where our son-in law could meet her midway in his car.

The keys were retrieved by midnight and the visitors left next morning. That is why our parties are on Saturdays’ explained our son-in-law, ‘Sunday is a reserve day’. Visibly relieved, my daughter heaved a sigh, “Thank God, this did not happen in India!”