Of bikes and me

Jungtina Jamir

As a little girl I used to sit at home with dad and brother on Sundays, watching sports on DD. That’s when I saw a bike on TV, for the 1st time. I liked what I saw!! Years passed and dad got a Bullet from I don’t know where. It made such a big bloodcurdling sound, my mom cringed her face every time that gave her early wrinkles. But I liked what I heard!! Riding a bike was a must-get –it-done dream for me. It has been a decade ever since.

It was a wish fulfilled for brother when he got his first bike. (Mine too) There was this one time he came to visit me in my hostel.  That day I asked him to teach me a little bit. He told me the basics and walla, ‘I got it’ I said. I held the bike coolly but with a full-size grin I couldn’t help but give. My foot gave a 101% powerful thrust on the pedal. It broke. It wasn’t the kick pedal but the brakes I had applied pressure on. We froze there for a moment and busted out laughing. Phew! And I thought he’d kill me. Half of the day was spent at the garage repairing the broken. After that I decided that maybe I should wait for another day.

Came December last year, we were home for Christmas. Next to out home was a house under construction. Their ‘thikatar’ Abdul, had a Red Yamaha bike. It was 31st December. That day he parked it on our compound. I begged my brother to take me on for a demo. Without any shame I asked Abdul if I could have the keys to his bike. He was most happy (until what??). I was beaming like a 1000 W bulb. It was a beautiful morning in Dimapur. The whole colony was basking outside. Yamaha purred like a kitten when brother gave it a start. He quickly told me the basics. I took the handles and brother sat behind me.  Brother had his feet down to make sure we didn’t fall and so did I. It took us forever to reach the char ali junction. Thanks to the cycle races we had as kids, I didn’t have trouble understanding the formula of balance. We turned back, and by that time my confidence was acme. 

YES!!!, I did it. I put my feet off the ground (hoping brother still had his on the ground).  Half way home brother shouted “I am not supporting anymore. You are riding all by yourself!!”  The colony kids were running behind us, just like a Hindi film scene minus the song. Our colony folks still remember the pompous smile I had on my face. 

And as if that wasn’t enough, to my embarrassment I was wearing a tee which read “Proud Rider – Harley Davidson”. Sometimes it’s so hard to walk pass without them having to remind me of that fateful day. ‘What fateful day??’ I’m just coming to that part.

We reached the gate; our home takes a small ‘kacha’ road from there. Brother said “STOP”.  Why? Because there was sand and mud on the road from Abdul’s construction site. I was like, “Pleaseee…I’ll go very slowwww”. My over irritatingly cute plead worked. He must have thought ‘oh uh, but aww”. He said, “Ok ok, but be very careful”. 

It took me 3 seconds to forget the warning. I was totally excited about showing everyone I could ride Abdul’s Yamaha. 
Came the ‘k-r-a-s-h-’ road. Yea, I took the bike a bit too fast. The wheels sunk on the sand and in the next few seconds everything went crazy. My mom screamed so loud that some lose bricks from the construction site fell. Unfortunately Abdul was standing next to mom. His right ear suffers from deafness now. 

Brother and I crashed big time. We literally almost went up the papaya tree that was there. I went black for a moment. When I opened my eyes we were on the ground, with the bike on top of us. Everything hurt. ‘AAHHH, my leg is broken’ was what I thought first. I managed to get up, I don’t know how, and asked if brother was ok. It flashed terribly on my mind what could have happened. By that time everyone was running towards us. It was a scene I’ll never forget. Mom biting me raw, uncle saying how lucky we were, dad just grinning away, Abdul with a heart attack and bleeding eardrums, workers from the site laughing out loud, and the climax??, grandma praying from the balcony with her hands stretched out thanking God. Ya, they too were basking in the balcony and happened to see everything. 

We had to repair Abdul’s bike. There went the money for the New Year special dinner we were saving up for. (His ear treatment is another story)

1st January 2005: I spent the day at home because I couldn’t walk, and who would wear that pretty small dress I was keeping for New Year with big ugly- oozing bruises on her legs??  The ‘wolverine’ like scratch marks on my arm and the scar on my knees; this is how it reminds me.

Now that my colleagues in office know about this they’ll probably skip the promise of teaching me how to ride…. again. O well, I’ll just have to wait another day till then.