The Bicycle Diaries


BY HEIGRUJAM PREMKUMAR

In the early hours of the day, my bicycle was there resting on the fence of the park just next to the building I am staying. Few hours later at around 10 o’clock, it was not there.

Where is my bicycle? It has been there for more than two months since I have shifted to this place. Who dares to steal my bicycle? How could it be possible to steal my bicycle that too in broad daylight? People are around. A shop is there very close to where I keep my bicycle. There are construction workers at the nearby newly built building. Some people always take morning walk in the park. The elders of the local always sit on the benches of the park. My bicycle was there only. Just next to the benches, just next to the footpath in the park. How could it be stolen in the few, I say few, hours?

The bicycle was dear to me since this was the first time I owned a new bicycle. Since my childhood, I always dreamed of owning a new bicycle. During my high school days I could not go to the school I wanted to study. It was far from my home and my parents could not afford a bicycle for me to attend to that school. When all of my primary school friends went to that school, I was the only one who didn’t. I felt bad at that time. I did not eat for days. I still see the tears on my mother’s eyes when she told me how much she wanted me to go to the school I wanted to go. I stopped my ‘dharna’ and told my mother that I had no problem joining the village school.

I worked hard to prove my friends that I was no less than them though I could not go to the ‘better’ school that they studied. I challenged to score more than the students of those schools I could not attend! Foolish of me, huh! I could not score more than them. There were four more students who scored more than me. But I was the only student from my school to pass matriculation in that year.

During that time, why I thought of only marks and marks? And, why did I never think of getting positions at the state level at least? The dream of a village boy was so limited that first division was the highest rank he could dream of himself. Oh, I am straying away from the story. It is my bicycle’s story.

During my senior secondary school days, I asked my mother for a ‘new’ bicycle. I gave my mother all the reasons I could imagine on why I wanted a new bicycle and not a second-hand one. I told mother that since I was in the city, riding a second-hand bicycle would make me a laughing stock among my friends and people around. I told mother that since I was the school topper I deserved a new bicycle! (I was only a second division but still funnily boasted of being the school topper. I was the only student who passed matriculation from the school, right?)

But, my mother bought me a second-hand bicycle. This time, I did not do any drama. At least I got a bicycle this time. Having a second-hand was better than having nothing. I needed it.

Well, it was in university that I again thought of getting a new bicycle of my own. I badly wanted it. This time, I could afford it myself. I got scholarships and got help from many well-wishers for my study. When I bought my brand new bicycle, I was happy to tell the news to my mother.

She told me with a grin-

“You are riding a bicycle in Delhi and that too in the university?”

I laughed and said-

“Hoi Ima”.

I was very happy to ride my new bicycle inside the campus. I rode it all around the campus. I took my bicycle like a very close friend. It was a joy to ride inside the campus with a free mind with my bicycle. I didn’t know whether it was me or my bicycle that took me around the campus. But I enjoyed the days. I was very happy to be with my bicycle.

But, now where is my bicycle? I was about to attend my class at 11 o’clock. I thought of not attending the class. Instead, I wanted to find my bicycle. At the same time, I could not miss the class. It was very important for me.

I attended the class. I could not concentrate. My mind was somewhere else outside the class. The memory of the romantic journeys with my bicycle inside the campus was coming back to me. While riding it, the joy of touching the leaves of flowers and trees growing at the roadside- that was wonderful!! Riding bicycle is a joy that is closest to nature.

Amidst all these happy memories was the sudden realization of what the bicycle store told me when I bought the bicycle. Many bicycles are stolen in Delhi and misused for many illegal purposes such as carrying drugs and planting explosives by terrorists. Since my name was registered along with the registration number of the bicycle, in case my bicycle is found misused in any illegal activity, I will be responsible for it. I would be sent to jail and etc. I started thinking all the bad things that could happen to me if my bicycle is found misused in such activities. The whole of my dream, the hope of my family and villages, the trust of my friends…. No, no, never. Nothing will happen to me. I consoled myself.

Just after finishing the class, I hurried back towards my room. On my way, I thought of filing a first information report as soon as I reach my place. All the words that I would put in the application was already arranged and written in my mind.

Suddenly, I saw a police van near the park. I thought, may be, they were delivering my ‘lost’ bicycle. Or, may be, they found it being misused? Shall I approach them? No. It was not a good idea in case they found it being misused. I did not look at them even.

What shall I do now?

When I reached the next building to my room, I saw what I never expected to see again- my bicycle being tied to a bike with a key-chain. The original lock was cut, but I found my bicycle. What a joy that I felt. What a relief I got. What a funny moment after all those horrible things I imagined. What a sense of happiness when I found my ‘lost’ bicycle back when all hope was lost to get it back.

I looked around to find the owner of the bike. I was also looking for the owner of the building. The building was locked. No one was around the building. I thought I could check in the evening again. My bicycle and the bike on which my bicycle is being tied are easily visible from my room’s balcony. I am not worried at all now. I can take rest for a while. But I am really happy to find my bicycle back. I wanted to share.

What is there to be more happier than when you find something back that you thought is never going to come back!

***

A curious friend who read my story pointed out that this story is incomplete. In his words,

I took the pain of reading through this, but found it incomplete. Please mention as to how the original chain of the bicycle was cut and replaced and was being tied with a strange bike although near to your balcony….

How did I find my bicycle? The original reply is put unedited here:

I could do little to heal the pain Samuel..:) But, I really appreciate your curiosity.. At the same time, thanks for spending some of your time to read it till the very end. Well, as I mentioned towards the end, I decided to check the bicycle and the owner of the bike in the evening. Later in the evening I discovered that some miscreants actually tried to steal the bicycle. They cut the chain that I was using to lock the bicycle. Fortunately for me, they could not run away with it. Those miscreants saw the son of the owner of the building and his friends when they were returning home after a party. They saw the bicycle falling on the ground. These good Samaritans picked up the bicycle and tied it to their bike with a big chain. They were waiting for the ‘owner’ of the bicycle! And, as for my failure to notice my bicycle being tied to that bike ‘near’ my balcony, I need to add few more words to increase your pain… It is a distance of about 60 feet. I am on the second floor of a building slightly opposite to it. Usually, I come down straight from my stairs and go directly towards the park paying little attention to the bikes and other things around. But, I make it sure that I always check my bicycle. Yesterday, when I saw my bicycle missing, I was few paces ahead of where the bike and the bicycle were (they were in a corner). But, when I returned I started looking around for my bicycle. When you have lost something very close to you, you always have this kind of hope that you will find it even if it seems impossible. This hope was there with me yesterday. To quote from a fascinating movie, “Hope is the last thing to die”. I had hope, I started looking every corner of almost every building on my way in the area in case I could find it somehow (but I never knew how I could find it). I found my bicycle.

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