Kochi: Simon Britto, who passed away recently, maintained a close association with his white Ambassador car ever since he bought it in 2006. Many people advised him to exchange his old Ambassador for a new car, but Britto refused. “The car is like a first-born child,” said the former MLA.
He also believed that the Ambassador would never leave him stranded anywhere. Britto met with many accidents but escaped every time. The CPM leader felt that it was the sturdy car that saved his life.
The car used to announce Britto’s arrival from far, with his wheel-chair fixed on its top. It was in the white Ambassador that Britto always travelled. He either lay down on the rear seat or rested on pillows.
Though confined to wheel-chair, Britto developed a host of friends. They included contemporaries like Thomas Isaac to young SFI activists. Most of them were ready to offer any support to Britto and even stayed at his house for days. Among his notable and close friends was Abhimanyu and everyone noticed Britto’s pain over the loss of his dear pal.
For Britto, the white Ambassador was another friend. Often, Britto told people that the car could read his mind. When the CPM leader planned a Himalayan trip on his old car, many people frowned. But Britto had no fears about the sturdy vehicle. The journey to the mighty mountains covered around 18,000 km and consumed diesel worth Rs 3 lakh. There were some accidents along the way, but Britto came out unscathed, for which he thanked the old Ambassador.
On one of the last trips in the car, Britto travelled from Thiruvananthapuram to his native place on December 12. At Kollam, Britto felt that something was amiss. The car was wobbling and stopped. A check revealed that the wheel nuts were missing. The man who fixed the puncture had apparently not tightened them properly. It was miraculous escape indeed for Britto.
From Kollam, Britto soon resumed his journey but there was another accident at Alappuzha. But yet again the car saved him. Britto revealed these incidents to Jayachandran, a publisher.
Several persons had handled the car as Britto never employed a permanent driver. Sometimes it was his brother Christy who was at the wheel. Each person’s driving method was different and this affected the performance of the vehicle. Britto never took full cover insurance for the car and met the expenses for repairs from his own pocket. However, he always ensured that third-party insurance was in place.
Before he bid adieu to the world, Britto had posed with a sweet smile in front of his favourite Ambassador. It was this picture that was carried by many newspapers along with his obituary.