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Monsoon Series 1: The Bicyle

posted Mar 2, 2012, 6:54 AM by Madhuri Sen

He stood there with the torrential rain streaming down his face. It was only the twist to his lips and the mild heaves of his chest that showed that there were tears in his eyes as well. He stared despairingly at the spot at which his bicycle should have been. It had been his birthday gift that year. A little too big for him, but the kind man at the cycle shop had shown how the seat could be adjusted to his height now and pulled up later as he grew. It had been fitted with a small water bottle stand in front and a bell that went tring tring, on his request. He had been a bit upset that his mother had refused to buy him a geared cycle. That would have been oh so cool! But loved the one he got anyway. And now it was gone….forever.

The building watchman had assured him that none of the cycles ever got stolen from the compound, so it wasn’t necessarily put the lock on every single evening. He’d figured that as long as his mother did not get to know that he did not lock it, it would be fine. And now it was gone….forever.  He’d got her to buy him one in the first place only after a lot of wheedling, as she was worried that he would take it out into the traffic.  And now she would have the perfect excuse to not get him another one. He could see many long bike-less years stretching ahead of him, while all the kids swept around in theirs, merrily.

He stepped forward and touched the tree that he usually leaned it against, like a farewell gesture to an old friend. Then turning away he walked with slouched shoulders towards where his friends would most likely have already started the football game. They had. He sat on the side watching them. He had lost all energy. Jatin walked up from behind and flopped down next to him. “Hey….not playing?” He replied not turning around, “Was late.”

The rain had not quite let up. The boys were all brown, caked in mud. Each time the ball was kicked and dropped, it kicked up a puddle. To Sameer they looked disgusting happy. He got up to go home.

His walked towards the entrance to his building, his head bent. His thoughts were still on what he would tell his mother about the missing bike. He had were flashes of memories of the time that he’d raced it against the other boys round and round their building complex.

His mother opened the door with a huge grin. She looked like a mess. Mud spattered on her clothes, matted hair with water dripping off, face streaked with grease stains. She flopped down on the chair to pull her running shoes off. She said to him happily, “I just got in as well…You know it’s a darned good thing you never lock your bike.” Sameer’s mind went racing, “How did she know about the missing bike so quickly…the watchman must have told her. But why was she looking so happy about that!? So like he’d guessed she didn’t really want him to have a bike at all?  Or was she gearing up for a big yelling by being all nice about it first….she did that sometimes.”

She walked off towards the bathroom. She continued with the sound of running water from the basin muffling her voice, “I mistakenly forgot to carry the house keys with me when going for my run…had too much on my mind from all that stuff at work today. No money, no keys, no car keys either. So thank goodness for your bike…I remembered that you never lock it….else it would have been a half an hour trudge in the rain….to get the duplicate set from the Sharmas. I’d anyway run a little too much today, the rain was so lovely. Uff I’m so totally exhausted… an extra half an hour’s walk would have killed me.”

Sameer rushed to the balcony. He happily looked down to see his bike restored to its spot. Picking up the cycle lock stashed in the shoe cabinet, he rushed down to his bike. “Sameer, where are you off to? Do you want something to eat?” He could hear his mother calling out after him. He could see the boys were still playing football. How he loved to splash around with the ball in the rain. “Jatin, be there in a minute,” he yelled out.