When was it? The first time I gave up on something? The feeling of fear and failure crept in? As far as I remember, it was in class 6. My mother had asked one of my cousins to teach me to ride a cycle. My elder sister could ride it smoothly and so did most of my friends. Being the younger one, I obviously inherited my elder sister’s cycle with the promise of having a new one as soon as I am capable of holding my balance.
The morning classes began, or should I say “the extremely early morning classes”, when the roads would be free from the hassle of vehicles. My cousin wheeled out the cycle in the middle of the road and asked me to hop on. I looked at my mother who was standing at the gate. Was she as nervous as I was? She encouraged me to do as directed with her eyes. I sat on the seat and grabbed the collar of my cousin for balance.
” Let go my collar and hold the handle”, he insisted.
“What if I fall?”, I screamed.
“You won’t learn to ride a bike unless you fall!”, he said calmly.
The calmness in his voice stirred my fear further. “I don’t wanna learn…it will hurt if I fall…let me go..”, I kept on howling in the middle of the road. The effort to calm me only raised the pitch of my wailing.
“Stop shouting! You will wake the neighbours!” , my mother rebuked. But no use, the effort to calm me only raised the pitch of my wailing. Both of them were fed up, I was taken inside, and all three of us were RELIEVED for the day!
Needless to mention that after a few days a second attempt was made by my mother and cousin. Early morning, hassled free roads, balancing by holding the shoulder of my cousin. I went round the colony a couple of times and then felt the confidence to let go of my cousin’s collar and hold on to the handle of the bicycle. My cousin kept on holding to the carrier of the cycle for support. Things went smoothly, but I realised soon that he has let go off the bike!!!!! ” Oi, what are you doing??”, I yelled! The cycle went on smoothly. “You are doing fine!! Just hold on your balance..”, he yelled back. I panicked and the howling resumed; then suddenly THUMP!!
I returned home with a thatched knee and a bleeding elbow. That morning was the last time I ever hopped on a cycle. Through out my school and college life, I have heard my friends discussing the joy of riding a cycle, something which I probably would never experience again.
Almost 15 years after the fateful day I landed on the Mackinac Island. A place that has successfully abstained itself from having any kind of automobiles on its roads. Either rent a bicycle or a horse carriage to enjoy its beauty. My better half was dumb struck when he learned that I cannot ride a cycle. Nevertheless, he didn’t give up on me and rented a tandem bicycle.
I was initially nervous as the childhood fears kicked in, but soon the calmness of the island soothed my senses. Little children rushed past us on their bikes, their giggles filled the surroundings. I could feel the cold wind on my face and blow through my hair. Though in a cheating way, I experienced the excitement of riding a bicycle, and also realised what I have been missing!
It is said that it is never too late to learn. Shall I make another attempt to learn to ride a cycle?? Only this time I shall be grabbing the shoulders of my better half!!!! 😀 😛