“Maa, can you slow down please?. We’ve walked almost two miles now and I’m tired!” exclaimed a fatigued Genu. His words falling on deaf ears as his mother continued.
(A few meters ahead)
“Maa! Look, isn’t that dad’s bicycle?”
“Yes, my son...but that’s not enough until I see your father.” replied an anxious Savitri with tears in her eyes as they headed towards the village hospital’s mortuary.
After three long months, rescue operations had come to an end at the shaft mine where Ramesh along with four other miners were trapped after a faulty elevator had made way.
It was the same bicycle. He had seen and heard it getting parked once every fortnight. The man riding it would always come after ten, to meet his mother. It was not his father. He hadn't seen his mother act like that before as she offered herself into his strong hairy arms which probed into her blouse amidst moans of passion. He lay awake most of these nights and wondered what grandma would do as his mother writhed and bucked under the man's weight. As his grandma took him away from the village, he spotted the same Bicycle again.
“Ma, whose cycle is that?” the boy covered in dirt asked.
“Your uncle’s, he bought it yesterday beta, second-hand. Now don’t stare, walk on.” Said the mother walking in the front. He had been given warnings at school for fights again.
“Can’t we buy one?”
“Your uncle has daughters beta, so he doesn’t have to spend on school. We are paying for your school na,”
“You want a daughter?”
“NO NO, I have a son who will make us rich one day, what else could I ask from god?”
The boy happily ran off for the next fight.
“When I was young we couldn’t afford a bicycle. My mother would walk to work, and back, every day, to save money. She wanted to buy me my first bike. She had said while gifting it to me on my 10th birthday that, “Life is like riding a bicycle. It does not move on its own, one needs to constantly work hard to keep it moving. If one stops moving, he will fall off. So ride responsibly!”
With that while wiping the tear off the corner of his eyes, he concluded the speech for winning “Le Tour de France.”
He sat down, as if repairing his cycle. She was walking on the other side of the road. He hadn't seen a more beautiful girl. He kept staring at her, not having the courage to talk to her. He had been coming to the same place for 2 months to just look at her. Today he noticed a small kid walking just behind her.
The kid saw the guy once and called lady in front of him and said, "Mom that guy is staring at us, should we call dad?"
You can look at it all you want, but we still aren't getting that ride.
Can't afford it. Look ahead. Just remember up ahead is your school.
What's that got to do with this ride that I want?
When you are done with school you'll probably be able to get all the damn rides that you ever wanted. I've sold enough of the two of us to get you into school. I'm not throwing that away for a small ride. You'll bring home the big ride when you are ready to. Till then we walk tall.
“Today, of course walking troubled you but I had to sell it. Education will lead you to a new life where pool of filth won’t be your domain anymore.”
His legs started trembling with fatigue, yet he gave a courageous nod and silently headed towards Amma’s shadow, only way he knew about walking.
“But Baba’s bicycle?” he whispered with half-shut eyes.
“He is… Your Baba might be riding horses somewhere in heaven.”
She unfurled the cloth on her skinny shoulders, the cloth she often used as a crown to support those heavy head-pans of cement at construction sites.
Neelabh parked the car on the roadside and got down with wife.
"That boy reminds me of the days when I used to walk five Km. to reach school."
"Not much has changed in the last thirty years."
"Even now there is no school near the village."
"I should start with building a school in the village."
"You stood by me in all my endeavours and without you I wouldn't have been so successful in my career. I am counting on your support to do something for our own people."
She pressed his hand, reassuringly.
Its time again...
just like clockwork,
no excuses of mortal souls,
no histrionics of flesh and bones
The master of puppets wins yet again
I am helpless
Just like my million brothers and sisters
Just like before
Just like the time after
I am long gone
My fate is certain
But unlike you
I will be taken away for pleasure of your gustatory and gastronomical hedonism
They say you are what you eat
You are me
Because in the end after you are long gone
There will be a story of you
And the story of me
On his way to a long day at work, Hari couldn't help but notice her. There she was, parked assertively, pointing at the future: A future set so against Hari’s routine path, it had so far only eluded him. While he prematurely scouted around the world of the grown-ups, Hari eyed the cycle with intrigue, and wondered if he would ever get to hitch a ride. As fleeting as it was, for Hari had to quickly make room for thoughts of labour and food, the bicycle managed to trigger in him, a foreign yet exhilarating response: Hope.
The boy followed his grandmother. She was in a hurry; worried, unhappy and he had no idea where they were heading and he didn't care the end.
She gazed straight and far- may be a distant future free of hunger. There was nothing in the way that could stop her. Or was she trying to outrun a regretful past...
He was fully present. He saw the lake, railway track, other kids playing and the cycle, the one which came in his dreams. But he had no time to enjoy. He had to keep up with the future.
"I think he knows!" It's hard to pretend to not being. We do it everyday. We pretend to smile. We pretend that we care.
The Prime Minister pretends to be helping the nation. Abhishek Bachchan pretends to act.
I pretended that I had checked the fire valve at the factory before it burnt my face completely. Worse, I pretended to care, of Sankalp and Reshma, my son and my wife.
Now I pretend to ignore how Reshma is ostracized from our society; they think I'm dead.
Sankalp looking at me like that scares me. He knows for sure.
“Walking on the road with confidence takes huge will power.”
“Then only others follow you with the belief to bring a change.”
The kid behind says, “Yes 'I'm ready to bring a change
and share this glory with you”.
I hid behind the bicycle. But he sure did see me. Funny, how he manages to spot me every time.
I know he is afraid of me. Maybe, because I follow him sometimes. But his mother accompanies him always and I never get a chance with him alone.
So one day i took the ultimate move. I followed him to his house & waited outside.
After a while, his mom opened the door.
'What are you doing here!' she exclaimed.
'Meeoowww' I purred prettily.
I had to look innocent. That is the only way they will take me in.
Slowing down his pace at the sidewalk was a routine, stealing away curious glances over a bicycle.
"Can't you walk a bit faster, it's already dark", trailed off his aunt.
His love for each and every contrivance had his guardians in tenterhooks.
Son of a rag picker, the junkyard was his playground. Lost in daydreams, all he thought of was fixing things up, be it spark plugs or gear rack.
"Load up those diffuser blades, onto the cycle, quick! We have to assemble a Jet engine".
Thanks to his stars, he had made it, working at Maintenance Repair Organization.
“Wow, this is quite an irony?”
“What? What’s so ironical?”
“In such à la mode sedan, you keep a miniature bicycle, why?”
“What happened? Why are you quiet? Did I say something wrong?”
“No, nothing wrong. I keep that bicycle in front because I still remember once upon a time in life that bicycle was my ultimate ambition, so I could drop my mother to the damn site where she worked, she would not have to walk 5 miles each turn. There is my childhood picture in the dashboard, see if you wish to."
KuLove. It is a cycle of emotions.
But this time; it was a triangle.
Raju loved adventure. His mother loved him.
Adventure loved them both.
His dream was to be a national athlete.
His eyes were fixed on the trophy.
And the trophy could only make its way through that cycle.
On their way to home from Raju’s school, he made his first move.
Can you guess what it could be?
Through the spikes of that cycle, he struck “Gold.”
Today he is known as, “Mr. Amarjeet Singh.”
Daadi...he rushed to his grandma in fear. Grandma didn't pause to enquire what it was. She knew the reason. She held his hand tight and walked.
As she saw him turn back frequently to ensure the cycle man was nowhere around, she drew him closer to her and said “No monster will harm my baby ever again”. She looked disturbed and desolated. Her eyes were wet and there were uneven red spots all over her saree.
Today I learnt how to walk in our society from this graceful lady. Mom, I wish you were here to teach me everything in the socially acceptable way because every step of mine is judged here.
I feel helpless when they say," If his mom was alive, he would be well-behaved and socially acceptable".
I want you to guide me in learning from my surroundings so that nobody ever tells those words again. I know it would hurt you and I can't let that happen because I know you would never ever let anything hurt me.”
Love you mom
Little Swamy had no choice. His mother had to die. She was insanely overprotective. She never left him alone, even with his loving father. She kept pestering him with questions and followed him everywhere. His father understood him. From the corner of his beady eyes, he spotted his father as he parked his bicycle. As planned, when they approached the bridge, he pushed her off it. They pretended to be distraught for a week. When the mourners left, he lay next to his father, relieved and free. Free, at last, to be touched all over by his loving father.
The story was done! Saket pumped his fists. The inspiration for the story came from a photograph, supposedly, of a mother and her son taken through a bicycle frame. In Saket’s story, the son achieved success and made his mother proud. Saket thought back to the day he had clicked this photograph, on his backpacking trip. He felt blessed.
Two hundred miles away, a local newspaper had carried another photograph a few days ago, of a boy and a woman. It was a gruesome accident captured through a bicycle frame. Two people had lost their lives in the accident.
"We are so different." She said.
"So what?" He replied.
"It won't work. I am feeling guilty of something."
"What do you expect me to do?"
"Can you please leave me alone for a while?"
"Are you sure?"
"I badly need to be left alone right now. Can you help me with it?"
And he took a shower so even he couldn't feel his tears. Sometimes some stories have an abrupt end..
“You are zonked again!”
“Zonked - always woolgathering on road trips.”
“I love looking at the world go past, the people, the lives and I start imagining their story.”
“Aha! So....ummmm....Those two, what’s their story?”
“Naughty kid, played truant from school, being marched home by an angry grandmother for punishment, wondering if he is big enough to ride that bicycle and escape!”
“Oh like that! Thank God! And here I was worried you were becoming all philosophical & existential about life and such!”
“I prefer happy stories”.
His father could not afford to send him to High School, and put him to work in his Bicycle repair shop. He would repair punctures and strain his emaciated muscles operating the air-pump.
He continued his passion for studying and kept his books nearby. Every free moment he got, he would pore over the books.
Some time he would “borrow” a customer’s bike for a spin along the village road.
He was woken from his reverie by the honking of the WIAA repair van, which came to help him replace the blown tyre on his SUV.
I was playing cricket with my friends. I saw Rahul had put on colourful shoes, but my old shoes were very dirty and torn. Just then, my friend hit a very long six and as I was a fielder I ran to get the ball. The ball stopped beside a cycle. When I picked up the ball, I saw a mother and a child wearing old, torn clothes. They were not even wearing slippers in such a hot weather. I felt that I was lucky that I had everything.
They had the same routine every day: taking the shortcut and passing by the richest house in their poor neighbourhood. His mom always paced with big steps, while he stayed behind when reaching this point.
“I promise she will be mine one day. I will take care of her and keep her as shiny as she looks now. “
20 years later they were both riding shoulder to shoulder.
“Reena, do you know when I fell in love with you?”
“When you used to try stealing the mayor’s bicycle every single day. Your eyes were shining like stars.”
It took him a while to stop his incessant sobs, to ease the knot in his chest, to calm his panicked fear. He'd run away before the whole family could find him. He sat there looking out into the evening when an innocent face quizzically stopped. Why are you here? It seemed to say. Here and not there? Questions will never stop and he'll need answers. Right ones or wrong, he'll need answers. So he got up, dusted off and rode back to the hospital on his bicycle. A new father looking to find answers for his new son.
The sun had already sunk into the horizon. The sky became gloomy and so did Aruna. Despair plunged into her heart. She desperately tried to read the words, but in vain.
She was sitting outside her hut which occupied 1.5 acres of a tiny, village in South India.
Her brother spotted her leaning over the book. He couldn’t help feeling sorry for her.
Then, his eyes fell on his old friend, his dear cycle. He immediately got onto the cycle and began to pedal. Slowly a light began to glow. With every bead of sweat, the light glowed brighter.
Rehaan loved cycling. But his alcoholic dad couldn’t manage to get him one.
He stood outside the park, watching the kids cycling around, every day.
Little did he know about the rights and wrongs of life, for he was just a kid then!
The newspaper headlines today read – “The Cycling Champion Rehaan – A Child Criminal”.
And this was his statement to the press – “I just wanted to be a cycling champion. And I badly needed a cycle. It didn’t matter to me how I got it. And I’ve no regrets. I’m who I’m today because of that cycle!
Ravi changed the camera setting for the Seventeenth time. Every possible angle had been tried. ‘Through the frame of the cycle’ was the last retort, he felt. Even the lady and the kid were getting restless. Working in the unbearable heat was agonizing. They were helpless for it wasn’t as intense and perfect yet as the boss wanted it to be. Everyone around them was turning hopeless. “Enough”, thought Ravi. “If this one’s rejected...” Suddenly the boss shouted “It’s perfect.” Ravi felt like climbing the Everest successfully.
It’s tough debuting as the cameraman in a Ram Gopal Verma movie.
I wish I grow up soon and be big enough to ride that cycle. Maybe then people will consider what I say.
Every time I say something against what society does wrong, I am silenced with a dialog- you are too small.
I want to grow up to be heard, to show what's wrong with the society and to set things right as much as I can.
Wanting the whole society to agree with what's right is like wanting the moon or star in your hands - it will be wonderful, but also know it's impossible. But I'll try!
"It's deep," Raghu mumbled examining the rusty nail lodged in the tire. It was a lazy morning at the cycle shop and he dreaded starting the day with a puncture. Pity, he thought prying out the nail, as the shiny bike had left the shop not a week ago. "Ta ta bhaiya," an angelic voice interrupted. Raghu kept working. Every sight of little Rishi brought nothing but loathing and pain. Appa's death, the inherited shop, the kid brother, the implied duty, the shattered dreams. He too was a kid after all. The puncture would take ages to fix.
"No ma, I still want the cycle. I will wait for it."
Every year on this day, he got to make a wish, that they would try and fulfil within a year, failing which he got an option to stick to the same wish or make a new one.
Watching the scene unfold in front of me, I felt like I was back at work. My firm helped corporate houses negotiate the extension of their debt commitment period, their conversion or refinance. I couldn't ignore the stark similarities. I wondered who was poorer, as I gifted him one.
The two wheels meant the world to Biswa. With every pedal strike, my heart ebbed with happiness, as he recollected his adventures from the back seat.
"Why did we stop here?"
His face wore a sombre look today.
"Three years ago, it all happened here! A rider is nothing without his legs!"
With tears gushing, he clutched his limbs in anguish.
"Do you know the meaning of your name, Biswa?"
The rider had suddenly found his purpose. A hug from behind made a drop of tear trickle down my cheeks as I pedalled into the unknown.