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From field to Enfield.

How do you know that you are capable of so many things or Bundle of mountain capacities? Do you believe that one of the impossible you make it possible is balancing a cycle and riding it?. Of course you may feel proud and have realized by now that riding cycle is something you have deleted from your mind. Yet, Imagine, if some one had introduced the cycle for the first time on this earth and asked you to ride….., you would have said, ‘its useless…. better walk and I will reach my destiny faster and safer’. But today it may be very little thought of by children and their parents. However, for a poor man who cannot meet the increasing demand the hike in petrol price…, the cycle is his Enfield bullet. It doesn’t need petrol, but gives you good service with excellent exercise from your head to toe. Ham….don’t pedal too much lest you complain of heart ache.

Hey, If I ask you – ‘how did you learn cycle or what was your first time bike riding experience?….., you will wear a Cheese smile taking your both hands to your forehead nodding, ‘my goodness what a experience!!!’. Ha ha that’s it. Today for some of the children and youngsters it looks like, they are born with the certificate and baptized with the talent to ride bicycle.

‘Come on lets hurry up… lest we miss the best bike’.  Shukla and Bhokla both jumped the Maryknoll Higher Primary School compound collapsed wall the place with full of scent from the toilets that was washed once a year by the rain God and was used by the standing boys and sitting girls with the wall patrician in betweeen. One side, the uppittu of Milly bai the only white skin lady who cooked and served uppit for the children in a giant aluminum haandy (vessel) in yellow colour with black chilly and onion pieces in it. And the other side the crows that ate up the uppit that was served from the hands of the tiny tots who learnt their A, Aa most of the time crying than keeping silence. When it was mid-day, the smell from the kitchen room of Milli bai would smell to the children and the children knew the taste of it before she added the salt. With that uppit smell the children also knew from their classroom to which progressive stage the uppit is getting cooked. When smell is on and Milli Bai is out, it worried children that today we will have black added yellow uppit. Finally when alluminium thali was removed with a church bell sound, the children were happy in their own seat and in their own classroom.

All this did not matter to the beginners in Cycle learning namely Shukla and Bhokla to fetch the best cycle of their dream size and like. Many thought of the cycle but would not leave the uppit but get the tallest 26 inch cycle from the Saheb’s Cycle shop after they finished their uppit in taking their sweet time. They normally surrendered the seat and put their legs through the pedal and caught one hand the handle and the other the seat and rode the bike.

Shukla and Bhokla both reached the cycle shop and the Sahed knew the exact hour of the day by seeing these little lads. This was a lottery point for him. He knew that this hour almost all eighteen his owned cycles plus those came for repair he landed to the school children to learn on hire base. He carefully noted the time in closed eyes and let the guys take the cycle. The cycle had a number and the Saheb’s daughters name. The same name borne muslim girl happened to be Shukla and Bhokla’s classmate. The cycle had bells hanging and would remind those temple black bulls with a bell in its neck hanging with sound ton ton ton ton. Some time when the learning spot was far, double rider would ring the bell and the other would do the rest. It had brakes wide open and would hurt the knee. The two Bokuls namely Shukla and Bhokla had to make efforts to catch them leaving the hand bar at times. The tyres were so old that they would give a good exercise of a ice candy seller - selling ice fruit by pushing it all through. At times the lads initiated to pump the air in a competitive way and it looked like the fire men are getting ready in the US to extinguish the fire that caught to the WTC. It had no paddles but just a steel rod with one end like that of grandpa’s umbrella top. The seat was so hard that sitting on it for a minute would mean that would remind you sitting on a garden hot rock bright sunny day. Oh, what a rush. Rupees three per hour which was increased by the Saheb for these children’s demand though it doesn’t need petrol or costs some billion dollors or of antique value!. But the lads kept it busy during their school lunch break. The Saheb did not repair it, cos he knew that they are still on high demand.

Rush rush lets go… was the rush. Some could ride and others pushed it to the ground which is opposite to the Mavinakere Nelli Bai’s house. Some lads would call their friends and others would follow later. It all depended on how may coins you had in your pocket to buy some sweets after the hour of learning is over and how dominant you are.

The riding started. The learning began. Shukla said, I will drive first. Bhokla too said, let me drive first you hold… He pushed Shukla and sat on the bike leaving him in half action to get on the bike. The ground was sloppy and the rider just had to balance and the cycle would take him to the lowest part of the ground. He went ahead…but wait….in few seconds the cycle and Bhokla both upside down. ‘I told you to apply break and you are not even allowing me first to ride and now falling… said Shukla to the fallen Bhokla. Bhokla had no patience to wipe the dust that caught his shirt. He wanted to rectify his mistake by not accepting the defeat but hiding the hurt in several parts of his body. This time instead of applying break he applied his mnind and drew the bike. He had some memories of riding the previous times, with that  he drew his cycle about four and half rounds and melted his energy to return to the place where Shukla was. He tried to show that he had still the energy, but was also feeling for his other friend Shukla that he also should learn as little time was left to return the cycle back and return to the class. Finally Shukla got the chance. He feels like hero. They exchanged riding a couple of times but the time was their worry. At the end they reached all dirty, swetty, and with hot sun perfume. With certain satisfaction Shukla and Bokla came to the shop and parked the bike among other 18. The Saheb was curious to know what all went wrong with the bike. He would give to the known persons only. But these lads were though not known to him, but their family members were. On that day Saheb was busy counting other cycles and repairing the puncture. The lads knew the duration - how long the cycle was used. Shukla said, you give one rupee fifty paise, Bhokla said, no no you give two rupees…. Finally for the friendship sake they managed to pay from both the pockets rupees three for an hour though they knew few minutes extra they had used the cycle. Later buying four peppermints they ate two and Shukla placed the other two in his pocket promissing Bhokla that he would give it to him later. Rubbing their clothes they come to the classroom and as if nothing had happened for the last sixty minutes, they sat and started listening to Ganiga Master during the fifth hour but their mind was on the cycle and the ground. They cherished the peppermint and kept on swallowing the taste till the end of the class.

The days passed, months passed, years too passed and the boys learnt cycle and passed their seventh, high school. Meanwhile they knew to ride cycle even in the fields and now they ride motor bikes. But Saheb is still in the same place with few cycles. ‘cos Shukla and Bhokla have bought a Enfield bike. Do convey your congrats to them and do think of the good old days of the Saheb who still prays and awaits (with his those good old days cycle) for a major hike in petrol price to turn Rs five thousand per liter in few hours time, so that Shukla and Bhokla may come and take his cycle and pay Ssshuuush not rupees three per hour…but THIRTY.

By - Hens Feather.

Sept 18, 2005.

For a glimpse of the life at Barkur as remembered by Barkurians, check archives

Barkur, located in Udupi Taluk, Karnataka, India. 576 210

Copyright Kishoo, Barkur 2002.