A small cycle..!
Asmall cycle and a little boy. Both doing a man’s job. He was the milk man’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 bicycle to pedal, either he didn’t know how to ride or the milk packets were too heavy to give him his balance, but with the seriousness of an old man he walked little bike to house, put it on rusty stand and then counting the milk bags rang door bell and handed the days supply to 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 handle bar 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, raced by even more excited dog and had stopped in my tracks. There leaning against the compound wall was my own pair of wheels.
My dream machine. The ultimate dream of a nine year old, never mind that it was no brand new bike with paper still stuck to metal frame. I touched the red and yellow bike.
“Don’t,” he shouted and shoved me away from his precious machine. His eight year old eyes glaring at me with rage that I had dared caress his grand possession. He wiped my finger prints away and trundled off to the house next door. Who was I touch his mercedes..!
“Junk!” my friends had exclaimed. “Junk?” I asked and angry mothers met mine that evening to report wounded sons who had been punched and kicked and fisted. “What made you do that?” my father had asked that evening and I had looked away. My little machine looked back at me, proud of such loyal owner.
It did not return such faithfulness. Many hours of precious riding time were spent in puncture shop. The puncture man one day gave up in hopelessness as there was no more room on tyre for him to fix his rubber piece. He offered me second hand, a tube with 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 room and laying it gently on the floor, sat myself on stool, and pretending that front wheel was a steering one, drove huge bus, with bus like sounds that came fiercely from my grimaced mouth. I drove with terror through road and gully with chickens jumping out of the way, people screaming and passengers begging me to stop to get off the awesome bus. I was a monster driver.
I leaned later on steering wheel and gazed John Wayne like at terrified crowd outside. Spit and saliva from speed like sounds foaming my tired mouth. I walked behind the coloured bike. The little fellow looked up at me “You want a ride?” he 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..! — Email: bobsbanter@ gmail. com