I miss my cycle. My purple (no surprises there) Miss. India Junior cycle, that had been my constant companion for two years- two wonderful years in HCU.
Sometime during my college, I think it was my second year, I decided that it was finally time that I learnt to cycle. No, I didn’t learn to cycle when I was a kid. I did not have a pink bicycle with supporting wheels and a pink basket. I did not have scraped knees and bloodied elbows. Instead, I had asthma. (Not as cool as it sounds). I was not allowed to go out and be adventurous. No frolicking around the park with my girlfriends, and I would hardly call my alarmingly frequent trips to the hospital, unable to breathe and fear looming large on my parents’ faces, as fun. I played with Barbie Dolls, kitchen sets, and read books- non-strenuous stuff.
So I spent my entire childhood and adolescent years being ribbed by my friends for not knowing how to ride a cycle (I aced at ringing the bell, though. Thankyouverymuch). No one missed a chance to poke fun at me, and finally, at age 19, I decided it was time to put a stop to all that- I was going to learn how to cycle and nothing could stop me!
The determination lasted exactly one day.
I pestered Acha to arrange a cycle for me, which he promptly did- an old, not-too-bad-condition cycle from someone in the building, took it to the mechanics, and got it ready for his little daughter. Father and daughter set out early next morning to conquer the two-wheeler world.
Two things to keep in mind before I go on:-
# Acha’s patience levels are legendary- it rarely lasts for more than five minutes, something that he managed to pass on to his younger daughter.
# I’m not very tall, but the cycle was.
Once I attempted to climb onto the cycle, I realized that I could either sit on the seat and someone could hold the cycle firmly to keep it from falling, or I could not sit on the seat and pedal with my bum in the air- the two just wouldn’t happen simultaneously. My legs refused to magically elongate to reach the pedals.
Fifteen minutes later, I was red in the face from just trying to keep myself from falling off the cycle, and Acha’s patience was starting to wear out.
“Ayyo! I can’t do this anymore Acha! Please, let’s go back home!”
“What?? Nothing doing! You have to keep trying!”
“I can’t! I’m tired, and this cycle is too big for me! It’s not my fault that the cycle is bigger than me. Enough for the day!”
“So what’re you planning? Learn cycling in one year??!!”
“It definitely can’t be learnt in one day, right??!!” Told ya, I was his daughter.
That was the last day we ventured out to teach me cycling. I somehow managed to learn to ride a two-wheeler, and get a license too, without learning how to cycle (I conveniently choose to ignore the fact that I had to take the test three times before I passed. 8 is just too hard a number, I say). I relaxed smugly thinking that
my have-to-learn-cycling-what-a-shame-otherwise days were over for good.
Till I joined HCU. It’s a 2700-acre campus - a fact that every HCU-ian never misses an opportunity to proudly boast about- and cycling was a necessity and a way of life there. So I decided to face my fear again, and went bicycle-shopping. That’s when I first met my beautiful purple Miss. India junior cycle, in which my legs beautifully reached the pedals! Yay! Next day morning, my friend Arun reprised the role that my dad had tried to play all those years ago, and ran behind me and my Miss. India, holding on firmly.
But this time, I was not scared. I was patient. And I was confident. And after running for a while, Arun let go of the cycle… And I didn’t fall!!! I did fall a few days after that, and two times after that too, but it doesn’t really count. I finally had the scraped (scarred for life, whatever) knee that I should have had as a kid, and instead of hiding it, I proudly show off my battle scars- for learning to ride the cycle may not be a big deal for others, but I felt as though I had conquered the world. So what If I fell down a bit? I at least learnt to ride it as well as I ring the bell, didn’t I?
Now I truly believe, if I can learn how to cycle, I can do pretty much anything I want in life. Sooner or later, I’ll get there.
After I left HCU, I lent the cycle to me previous house-owner’s daughter. Never saw it again.
My dear purple Miss. India, I hope, wherever you are, whichever little girl is riding you, you’re fine. I hope my little daughter gets to ride your little daughter after a few years. We will then sit back and watch them and smile over the sights we’ve seen and the places we’ve been.