Tuesday, 23 June 2015

Cycle of Life


When we gifted our son his first cycle, I had to conceal the fact that I was more excited than him. A survey of the block where we live, led Queenie to the conclusion that a cycle would be the most obvious choice for baba’s 4th birthday. There were compelling reasons. Lately he would refuse to come home from school and slip into his friends’ houses -- only to be able to try out their bikes. This was however not approved by me as I saw it as a distasteful example of social climbing which should be nipped in the bud. 

So while I was at work, Queenie did some footwork and scouted around for the best bike in town. That done, on baba’s birthday I spelt out to her that we were going to hop down to town to pick up the C-Y-C-L-E. The spelling out of the word was to preempt any bawling scenes in case the project had to self-destruct. The last time we discussed going for a tiatr and didn’t go, he created quite a din. 

Curiously Queenie settled on the same shop, ‘China Bazaar’, from which I had first bought baba’s first tricycle. As baba tried out the bike he looked like poetry in motion. It was a red Hero Sundancer complete with extra wheels on either side to prevent falls. One side-wheel was slightly above the ground to help the child to learn to balance. What I heaved a sigh of relief at was the little basket up in front of the handle bar – finally someone else would get the veggies!

Every part of the cycle was carefully wrapped in cardboard and some parts in plastic to prevent scratching. Behind was the Hero label – the original from Ludhiana. Begun in Amritsar by four brothers in 1944 as a store for bicycle spares it is now a super brand – making 18,500 cycles a day – a global record! I marvelled at the quality --and endurance! -- of the products India produces. From the land of the 5 rivers, ‘Punj-ab,’ came this cycle which my son would ride in Goa. I grew up with Hero cycles in the days when they were the epitome of the Indian Middle Class. But seriously, was this snazzy bike, an avatar of the same staid humble hired black Hero cycle I fell off when learning to ride in my school days?

The makeover was perfect. The gleaming rims opened the door to my childhood. The fresh smell of the tough rubber tyres beckoned my wanderlust. The anti-skid pedals, caliper brakes and sturdy steel frame reassured me. Back home, we heaved the cycle up the stairs. As we readied the long corridor to provide practice, baba pedalled his way with increasing confidence. On the way, I seemed to sense that, to keep him close to my heart I needed to let him go, to find his song – to dance in the sun.
www.herocycles.com; Pix of Dwayne taken at home on 14 January 2015. Published in Gomantak Times Weekender St. Inez, Goa on Sunday 7 June 2015.

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