It was an ordinary day. With incredible heat, a ton of sweat and a generous supply of dust that every passing car would kick up. It was a road side joint, that gave the tired passerby or the bored office goer some reprieve. It had an assortment of knick knacks, cigarettes and a host of items that would seek to be a valid excuse to take a break. Or sometimes, just to provide space for a conversation.
Out of nowhere, the refills for the day arrived. A chap and his cycle. Rather a chap on his cycle. Every conceivable part of the bicycle held some article that fuelled a supply chain of sorts.
Two plastic bags on either side of the front handlebar. Two on either side of the rear. One huge crate that occupied the ‘carrier’. When he removed that, a seat with strong spring coils became visible. The cycle in itself appeared as ancient as the man. Rusted and a tad beaten down. But arrived without making a fuss and departed without making any.
Out of curiosity and the general liberty that people take with perfect strangers I checked out the cycle. Regarding it as an object of interest like an art curator would. Walking around it and tapping on the e rims with two bent fingers. Like a coconut vendor checking out his coconuts to let you know his had two litres of water in them!
The tapping hurt my nails. This was no pushover aluminium. This was hard steel. Solid metal. If one of these fancy modern day cars rammed into this cycle, well, God save the car. That kind of hard steel. The cycle in itself was heavy and it was clear that riding it must be an ask.
It was when the man was all set to leave that I spotted the branding. ‘Professor’ by an outfit called “Chowdhri & Co”. This more dated than me. I remembered Hercules. Atlas and Rallis as the conservative bicycle variety and the BSA SLR with Kapil Dev promoting it, as the upstart challenger. But Professor? No idea.
Some things stay. Don’t they. As much as they are a function of what they are made of, it is also because of how dearly they are held. How important they are.
I wonder how this bicycle survived the elements. Which is when, a thought struck that it may not about the survival of the bicycle. Perhaps it is about the flourishing of the family and the bicycle just being a means to it. Whichever way, the bicycle stories that were left untold, seemed to knock on me to look beyond the obvious.
Maybe a memory that the worn out chap that drives it, wants to preserve. I didn’t ask. He was tired and more importantly in a hurry.
For some strange reason the old rusted bicycle left an impression on me, even as the chap pedalled away into the next road with the Sun beating down on him. I wonder why.
That night, as I was reflecting on the day, I wondered if our daily work was as resolute and as worthy, as the bicycle that I saw. The ‘Professor’(s) that made me, seemed to give me a nudge. To dive into the next day with gusto.
Here’s to a glorious week people.