Help Light the Lamp Again..!

When I was young, most of us cycled, and the muscles of our legs provided us fuel to go all over, but towards night it became imperative to see the headlamps on our cycle were lit. Headlamps are a glorious term for what gave the light, it was actually an oil lamp, with a wick in it and behind, a reflector. The reflector threw the weak light forward, and if I remember just enough to see your hands on the handlebar of your cycle.
You adjusted the flame with a small round protrusion and then drove into the wind, which every now and then blew out the flame, so most of the time was spent checking to see whether your lamp was lit or not, for which there were two little windows on either side of the ancient lamp which told you how the fire was. Very often with the smoke the kerosene gave, the two windows turned black and you had to check the lamp by stopping and staring hard into the front of the lamp.
Now why would you go to such trouble over a lamp that hardly threw any light?
Ah well, at most junctions, behind a tree, a wall, or some such hiding place lurked a traffic policeman, waiting to catch you for riding with no light.
“Halt!” he would shout, and you knew that a trip to the police station was on the cards.
“But sir,” we would say, and we always said, ‘sir’ in the hope that politeness would be rewarded with freedom, “Sir, see the lamp is still hot, the flame just went out! Give me a match, I’ll light it and let me go!”
“No light!” shouted the policeman sternly, not noticing you had been extra polite with him, and with an air of finality, you joined a half a dozen other cyclists who he’d caught and would now take to the station. Many however got away by paying him a fiver or offering him a cigarette; bribery was cheaper those days!
It’s many years since I’ve used a cycle, many years since I’ve seen a kerosene lamp, but I’ve found same traffic policeman existing in all walks of life, waiting behind lamppost, tree or corner, waiting to pounce.
They wear different garbs; some are teachers who wait for children to commit a mistake, so they can be punished. Some parents, who instead of guiding their kids not to do wrong, wait to catch them in the act. Or quite often it’s someone old at home, a father or mother of yours, who needs a bit more patience, rather than a harsh word when they slip up!
To, such as you, who have this traffic policeman habit do I address this column: Stop being critical all the time, stop looking for faults.
Instead, this new year, start guiding, teaching, nudging them back, and help light the lamp again…!




5 thoughts on “Help Light the Lamp Again..!”

  1. A simple day to day happening of earlier times narrated in an excellent way igniting nostalgia. Connecting it to a major flaw in our day to day behaviour is just superb!

  2. You’ve stoked embers of old memories of the Fifties. Nostalgic remembering the Good Old Cycle Lamp & memories of the Sarkari …..

  3. Superb. Interesting. In fact, I have forgotten, I. used to to drive the cycle using this methods. Thanks for reminding.

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