Yesterday was Children’s Day and I saw a small cycle and a little boy!
Both doing a man’s job.
He was the milkman’s little son, hardly seven or eight, and with his tiny painted cycle, laden with milk sachets he trudged from house to house, pushing his wee yellow and red two-wheeler. He did not get on the bicycle to pedal, either he didn’t know to ride or the milk packets were too heavy to give him his balance, but with the seriousness of someone mature and older he walked the little bike to different buildings, put it on its rusty stand and then counting the milk bags rang the doorbell and handed the day’s supply to the waiting householder inside.
I walked to the little cycle. Red and yellow, a hand painted job!
Mine had also been painted by hand, not such fancy shades, but a dignified black. I touched the little handlebar and in my mind I touched my own little steed, many, many moons ago. “Bob,” my dad had said. “Your birthday present’s outside.” I had run out, followed by an even more excited dog and had stopped dead in my tracks. There leaning against the compound wall was my own pair of wheels.
“Junk!” my friends had exclaimed.
“Junk?” I asked and angry mothers met mine that evening to report to her about wounded sons who had been punched and kicked and fisted. “What made you do that?” my father asked that evening and I had looked away. My little machine looked back at me, proud of such loyalty.
It did not return such faithfulness: Many hours of precious riding time were spent at the puncture shop. Till puncture man one day gave up in hopelessness as there was no more room on the tyres for him to fix his rubber pieces. He finally offered me second-hand, a tube with a few empty spaces left for tyre bursts.
With black enamel, my father painted the rusty fellow, gleaming paint looking like cosmetic on wrinkled skin. Who cared!
And in the evening when the lights were put on, I led the bike to the side of my room and laying it gently on the floor, sat myself on a stool, and pretending the front wheel was
my steering wheel, drove my huge bus, with bus like sounds that came fiercely from my grimaced mouth.
I was a monster driver!
Yesterday on Children’s Day, I walked behind the coloured bike. The little fellow looked up at me “You want a ride?” he suddenly asked. I smiled and then we laughed; all four of us, the little boy, his coloured bike, a grown up me, and from somewhere, a black, hand painted bike, which was also a bus..!
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