Recently I went to my birth-place in Bihar on a casual vacation with my parents. Like all reasonable people, they are very particular about the standards of hygiene and ordered living. So a metal scrap-dealer was called and was instructed by my father to carefully pick up all the pieces of junk that had been accumulating on the attic since the last time we went on a similar cleanliness drive.
Resigned on a comfortable lawn-chair, I saw the dealer pick up broken pieces of gadgets that had outlived their utilities and had, therefore, been long abandoned by us. The monotonous nonchalance with which I had been watching all of this happen was finally broken when out of the pile of metal junk, came-out an old bicycle- battered and corroded beyond recognition, the bicycle seemed to be an ugly outline of what was once a beautiful birthday gift to an over-zealous young boy.
Within moments, my childhood years began to flit across my eyes like the brilliant colours of a Kaleidoscope. I could very distinctly see myself riding what, at that time, had seemed like the most prized possession in the world. I could smell the fragrant air of early-morning spring and the chilly January breeze numbing my nostrils and whizzing past my ears as I blithely went about peddling to the place where my whims would take me. Back then, it was about the journey, not where it took me.
Like a Pandora’s Box, vivid images began to resurface ceaselessly. I recollected falling off my bicycle and getting a nasty cut on my chin- it required painful stitches to heal. I was amazed at how nostalgic I really was, even about such incidents which at that time had seemed harsh punishments for an over-exuberant kid.
So, like a stubborn train of thoughts that would simply refuse to die down, I found myself ruminating over our relocation to a metro city following my father’s transfer and how drastically my life had changed ever since .
I had to let go of my small-town mentality in order to cope with a sea of people who appeared aggressive about what they wanted from their lives. I no longer dared to tread the unusual path. All of this was necessary, I was told, if I was to become a cog in the wheel that supported a massive cart- one that kept getting heavier by the day. I was no longer the bright kid who was adored by his neighbourhood. The realization was grounding.
Getting back to the fate of the old bicycle, it was sold for hundred-something bucks. I kept quiet because I was expected to stay clear of pointless sentimentality – it was, after all, a piece of junk that was spoiling the look of our house.
What couldn’t be traded, though, was the realization that the bicycle was a token of what I was originally born to be, what everyone is born to be- carefree, naive and happy!