The bliss called bicycle ride
The bicycle which was spotted in large number on urban and rural Indian roads in 1960s and 70s was invariably the common man's easy means of transport
The bicycle which was spotted in large number on urban and rural Indian roads in 1960s and 70s was invariably the common man's easy means of transport. Peddling the bicycle and making short and long journeys, men would enjoy bicycle-rides. Students would go to schools and colleges on bicycles while employees would reach offices comfortably on their bicycle. Bicycles, besides being easy mode of transport, offered people good physical exercise and helped them stay quite strong and healthy. But alas! the bicycle ,replaced by air and sound-polluting motor-vehicles of varied kinds, is hardly spotted on Indian roads nowadays.
But I still vividly remember my experience of learning bicycle-ride. "The bicycle-rider is my hero and the bicycle is the object of my fascination". That's exactly how I viewed the bicycle and the bicycle-rider in my school-days. Then I was studying in V class. Watching the bicycles and the people peddling bicycles on roads of our town while going to my school and returning home from school, I was so excited.
When I glimpsed young boys riding bicycles, my boyish excitement peaked and with wonderment gleaming in my eyes, I would keep staring at them and the way they were riding the bicycles. Sometimes, I stood transfixed on the edge of the road and watched those young bicycle-riders with pleasure. Often, I was seized with envy whenever I caught the spectacle of boys of my age riding bicycles with beaming countenances, letting out cries of bubbling happiness.
At such moments, I was possessed by an aspiration to join the group of those boys, riding my own bicycle proudly, happily and excitedly. Gradually, my aspiration of riding a bicycle grew into a fond dream which I nurtured in my boyish heart.
How to realise my dream was what I was preoccupied with. The first and foremost thing in the realisation of my dream was that I must have a bicycle and somebody to teach me how to ride a bicycle. Of course, my father had a bicycle which he used for his official work and to bring groceries and vegetables from the market. But my father's bicycle was too heavy and high for me to learn bicycle-ride.
Moreover, my father would not let me learn bicycle-ride, for he thought that I was too young to ride a bicycle. Then, how to learn bicycle-ride? My dream of learning bicycle-ride remained unrealized till I grew to be in VII class.
My high-school from my house was more than two kilometers. To walk such a long distance to attend my school, carrying my bag of textbooks and notebooks was very tiresome. As I was my mom's pet, I conveyed my desire to have a bicycle.
When my mother asked my father to buy a bicycle so that I could go to school on bicycle, father told her, "First, let him learn to ride a bicycle. Then, I shall buy him a bicycle". When I heard my father's words, my dream of riding a bicycle rose and spread like a rainbow before my eyes.
In those days, at bicycle-shops, bicycles of different sizes were given to people on payment of fixed-money per hour. I had a friend who was well-known to be an expert at bicycle-riding. He offered to teach me and help me to learn bicycle-riding on Sundays.
On Sunday-mornings, after break-fast at home, I hired a bicycle of medium size at a cycle-shop near my house and accompanied by my friend, I would go to a large, vacant ground where under the guidance and supervision of my friend, I practiced learning bicycle-riding. My friend taught me how to get on to the saddle of the bicycle, placing my foot slowly on the pedals, clutching the handle carefully and balancing the whole bicycle deftly and running both the pedals of the bicycle gently to make a forward movement.
For about ten days, I made a vigorous practice, guided by my friend. When I crept on to the saddle, peddling the bicycle, my friend, following me, holding the bicycle's carriage, ran after me. Sometimes, I slipped and fell off the bicycle. Fortunately, I did not sustain serious injuries as the ground was grassy.
One Sunday morning , I was peddling my bicycle on the ground. Surprisingly, my bicycle in a balanced way was running.
I thought my friend was behind the bicycle, holding its carriage and helping me to balance the bicycle. Suddenly, I heard a loud laughter of my friend with clapping of his hands. "Now, you are riding the bicycle yourself quite successfully with no help from me. You have learnt the bicycle-ride", cried my friend ecstatically.
When I looked back, I beheld my friend about six-feet away from me and my bicycle. The moment I realized I was riding the bicycle myself, finding myself on cloud nine, I screamed proudly and excitedly as if I had made a heroic achievement.
Later, when I grew up and during my college days and my teaching career, for long years, I enjoyed riding bicycle, for it provided me with good physical exercise to be healthy and active.