The cycle repair shop was a kilometer away from my home, but then it was the only shop I could rely on. Hence when it came to changing my cycle’s tyre, there was no choice but to visit that shop. The shop was well-known and my word being a bit tedious, I had to wait for a while to have it attended to. The kind proprietor offered me a seat. Soon I was busy admiring the nature scene around me.
Just then a young kid in shorts approached me thinking that I was the owner. He asked me, “How much do I have to pay for cycle for an hour?” I directed him to the owner, who replied, ” One rupee”. The boy promptly handed the man a rupee and rode off. As he disappeared round the corner, I started recalling those days when I too was a little boy who used to eagerly rush to hire a cycle; how I knew how much to pay and yet I would ask him the rate.
Then I would get down to inspecting all the cycles and if my favorite one was not there, I would wait for it return no matter how long that would take. Then when it would finally come, I would go riding down the slope very much aware that it would be a tedious climb that would follow for my return trip.
Oh! How thrilled I was on the day my father bought me new cycle? I still remember the day when I rode on it to my school with my father following me on his scooter. How scared I was that the initial source of delight and ecstasy would be all lost the moment I would fall off from my cycle. And of course, I would flaunt it in front of all my friends who begged me to have joy rides on it. It was such a pleasure to be the ‘center of attraction’.
The joy seemed to last only for a while for within a few months I was bored stiff of my cycle and the cycle rides – that was five years ago. How strange are those short spans of time when the feeling of possession is at its height. Although in the deep recesses of ones mind we crave for happiness and excitement, but one always longs for a new thrill, new excitement all the time. And I am living up to this philosophy for at the moment I am crazy, going bonkers – all for a driving a ‘Hero Honda’ bike.
This short piece appeared under the ‘Have Your Say’ column in the youth supplement of a local newspaper, ‘The Indian Express’ in Pune, India on May 8, 1993. I was about sixteen years old and crazy about bikes like all teenage boys.
Learning to cycle and being able to swim are skills that are best picked up at an early age. It is that much harder to learn them later on. We seem to be more willing to fall & fail – put up with the pain that is very much part of the learning process – as a child than as an adult.