A new spider has invaded my body. For the past two days there has been an intricate crawling and cobwebs of masterly design have adorned my rusted existence once again. I don’t mind the spiders , at least their crawling makes me aware that something is still moving , if it’s not me. Though there are cobwebs on my body but my memory is quite clear.
Pardon me! It seems I forgot to introduce myself. I am a bicycle or rather a rusting bicycle in a junk filled storeroom that has not been opened for ages. Where even light forgets to enter. Rust and immobility is a part of my life now. I know you see me as an inanimate object. Perhaps it’s quite strange to imagine a bicycle narrating it’s life events. Well let me give you a paradigm shift , there is a life I have lived and memories that I hold on to dearly.
The first memory is of course a shining one. My brand new rusty red (which some called coffee colored) form adorning the bicycle shop window. My beauty was absolutely breathtaking and I attracted every young boy and girl who dreamed of a bicycle. Yeah I was a born narcissist and even in this dilapidated state I think I look beautiful adorned in cobwebs. Well due to my impeccable beauty my days of flaunting in the shop window were limited. I was purchased within two days and bestowed upon my owner. The owner turned out to be a lovely young boy of eleven with a twinkle in his eyes. Prem and I bonded instantly.
Prem was very agile , playful, lively and full of mischief. He loved animals specially cows and dogs . I was now his constant companion to carry him and the goodies to feed his animal friends.When his thumb pressed on my bell and people cleared the way in our honour I swelled with pride. We rode the wind through the mustard fields. We grew inseparable and I felt a deep kinship and love for my owner.
But an even greater love was to blossom in my heart soon. I fell for her instantly. Her radiant light brown hair and milk skinned lovely face reminded me of Russian dolls. The rose of her cheeks colored my thoughts. She was this nascent sun with a rainbow smile showering love in my rusty red heart. I was smitten and to my delight Prem understood it.
She was from another school but she attended the same extra curricular activity classes as Prem and that is where I got to see her angelic face for the first time and on weekends henceforth .So weekends became special and so did those classes. To my delight Prem took me along even though the class was a walking distance from home.
The cow feeding and dog playing took a backseat and Prem took me circling around her house so that I could have a glimpse of her from the balcony. Prem had a single black diary which contained all his school work. School was too boring for my sharp lad and he found writing notes a waste of time . So he had this omnibus diary and he tucked it my carrier and we would ride to woo my lady love. Her beautiful hairbands made her look like a princess . As they say love is blind and so this girl with her leg prosthesis seemed the most perfect creation of god to my eyes , who made me forget even my own beauty (yeah! I was too busy admiring her that narcissism took a backseat).
It always puzzled and delighted me how Prem understood my heart’s plight and made all possible effort to bring me to her vicinity. However true enlightenment occurred on a regular day when he offered her a lift and she accepted and she sat side saddle on my bar and my bell had an echo of jubiliation. As we three cruised through the suddenly scented breeze through the mustard fields and I was going dizzy with love that I realized that Prem wasn’t following my heart . He was following his. He had fallen for that beautiful angel and why shouldn’t he . If she could transform and inanimate narcissist like me, he was but of course a young boy with an actual heart.
From there my delight shifted to watching his heart somersault and splash in the sea of love. She beamed and shined , appeared and faded with a constant mental presence like a subtle fragrance . His eyes seeked her and mind chanted her name …. Swati.
Mysteries of unsaid love are hard to decipher. I had started growing anxious whether Prem would ever confess his liking for Swati. But he was just a boy ignorant of the rules of love and too shy to reveal the secrets of his fragile heart. She knew her charm had worked on him. Girls are bestowed with a sharp sense to detect such things . I could see that in her knowing eyes.
Hardly had I known that while I was contemplating the fate of this young love, my own fate was jeopardized.A notorious bicycle thief was on prowl. The evening of 15th August 1994 I fell into his sly trap . I hated his sweaty hands and his horrid aura and the thought of imminent doom and of never seeing Prem and Swati again made me panic like never before .
The thief was prolific in his skill. I was soon dumped with several stolen bicycles. I was still the most beautiful one with my shiny red of rust (well the narcissist in me keeps its composure and mind even in crisis.. forever awake!). The thief kept stealing and selling his exploits .It seemed he developed a liking for me and wasn’t ready to part with me . Not until he got a handsome bargain. Meanwhile I grew more and more homesick and yearned to see Prem, hear his voice, feel his pat on my seat and call me with the name he gave me and go on a ride. A ride in the meadows and on the open roads beneath the canopy of trees with absolutely no care in the world.
To my dismay several months passed and my hope of being rescued started crumbling to dust.The sheer irony of becoming a captive on Independence day now made me laugh. I was evermore disgusted by the filthy , ugly , uncouth thief. Little had I imagined the turn of events . On a fine January morning the thief decided to take me on a ride and once again I heard songs patriotism floating in the air and I grieved and prayed desperately to see my friend Prem once again.
The thief took a stop at a ‘dhabba’ for tea and I sighed away to the nostalgic touch of mustard scented breeze gazing at the yellowed fields. My sad trail of thoughts was broken by smashing of glass, sound of panic and chaos , a short chase , body tussle and finally painful moaning of the bleeding captured thief. The Police had finally succeeded in it’s five month long trap setting to nab the criminal. All I remember next is Prem running to embrace me with a euphoric smile. He looked a little taller . Thus at sunset of 26th day of January 1995 I was reunited with my friend for life.Yes , we were destined to reunite.
The spider had crawled by now to the front wheel to try his weaving skills and trap another fly. Rusty beamed with nostalgic delight and spider weaved passively listening to his rant. He finally spitted out the sticky thread and blurted “ So how did the love story end? Did Prem tell Swati?”
Oh! I do not know. One year after our reunion Prem fell ill and he was to be taken to the hospital often . He had aches and pains and fever and doctors stopped him from playing and after a few months he could not ride me anymore. He was weak and tired most of the time , living on medicines . He had a strange disease that gnawed at his joints and made it impossible for him to even go to school. His parents finally decided to take him to a bigger city with better medical facilities. Prem loved me so much that he didn’t let them sell me so I was locked up in this storeroom of their ancestral home.
Twenty years have passed and the last thing I remember is when Prem parted with me , he patted my seat with difficulty and took the name he gave me. I have been eating dust here thinking constantly of him and his love for the girl with rose cheeks and an angelic smile.
The spider had stopped weaving and stared at Rusty “ What name did he give you ? “
“ Do you still believe in reunions ?”
Before rusty could respond the door suddenly creeked open causing the spider to flee urgently . A gush of light flooded the room and a boyish chuckle boomed in the murkiness of the room.
“Look Ma! a bicycle !!!’
A voice with a familiar angelic sweetness echoed from behind
“No Yash that store room is too dusty, Let Dad take a look “
The boy of ten didn’t heed his mother’s advice and had already closed on to Rusty. There was a familiar agility and a lovable face staring at Rusty.
A man followed the boy and Rusty was astounded by a sudden pat on his seat that bounced the dust of twenty years of memory. He was focused now on a face with an impressive moustache but a familiar twinkle in his eyes as this man uttered those magic words
“Good old Rusty Red Rocket Bomb !”
Yes that was what Prem called him. That was what he had yearned to hear for twenty years.
“ Yash meet Rusty! Me and your mom rode on this good old buddy through the mustard fields.Good old Rusty!” Prem patted on his dusty seat once again and Rusty looked at the spider and whispered
“ Yes I do believe.”