Even before the bell finished ringing more than half the children of the school had run to the cemented ground to board their buses home. And every child, including me had hoped to not see these buses in the two beautiful months of vacation to come.
In the bus I carefully folded the chit on which I wrote ‘Don’t forget,3.30’. I was so excited and happy .The plans in my head were so random and multiple in number , they collided like molecules furiously against each other. I leaned back on my seat thinking, imagining laughing silently.
“Haaallo!! Escquuz Me! Do you own this seat?”
It was Nadia, greater foe than friend. I usually watch out, to not sit with her in the bus, but I just didn’t notice today. I complied. I gave her the greater share of the seat. She was a fatso anyway!
As soon as I got down my stop, I made a run for home. I pushed the big aluminium door of my compound open. Before I turned to my own house I walked to Sindhu’s- my neighbour and best pal. I knew she hadn’t reached yet, her school finished later than mine, so I placed the chit underneath her doormat hoping she wouldn’t forget to look.
And for sure 3.30 sharp my doorbell rang. Sindhu was all hippity-hoppity excited.
“Come na...I can’t wait to start learning to ride your cycle.”
This was our plan – to learn cycling this vacation. Our aim - to one day be able to peddle our way round and round the football ground nearby. With our pony-tails held high we wanted to make the onlookers gape and make them say: “Aaha!”
What was so great about that?? I dunno...but it sounded cool then.
HEAVE HO! I was pushing the cycle while Sindhu rode.
“Girl ! Your definitely not feather weight!” I said. ”Hey your feet don’t even touch the ground....ha ...ha..might even take another vacation Sindhu!”
“Oh yeah! So now let’s see you ride” she retorted.
Oh no...Me and my big mouth! But of course, I knew the theory - push the left peddle and then lift the right leg to push the right peddle...simple. Maybe just maybe, I can.
I mounted the cycle. You know, I did get the first part right... my brain just didn’t signal my right leg though. And suddenly, Sindhu came running towards me. She was upside down though. Then I took a look around. Hey! The earth does revolve. Did I just prove Kepler right?( or was it Gallileo?... Copernicus?)
Yes, I had fallen. My knees hurt. Blood was oozing out. And then my ‘smart’ brother (I don’t know where he came from suddenly!) says, “Why are you whimpering, Idiot, It’s only small wound!”
And then I got up. I swirled the cycle around and broke it into two. “AARGH”, I cried like the Incredible Hulk and hit his head with the bigger half...okAY..okAY..Maybe that was what I wanted to do. As of now imagining would suffice. That was the end of day one of cycle practice.
Day two was definitely less enthusiastic. Within half an hour we were dead tired. And then, we heard a familiar “ha..ha..ha” from behind. It was Selvam Annan, the compound watchman. We called him Selvannan for short. It seemed like he was in a good mood.
“Neenga cycle savittan padkingla? “ he said. (Are you learning to cycle?)
Sindhu was a Rajnikanth fan, so she always understood him well.
“Aaa Anna!” she replied.
“Kavalapedate..nan une.” (Don’t worry I’m here)
From day three on, Selvannan was our coach and mentor. He would effortlessly support the cycle while me and Sindhu took turns. We practised for hours. He would constantly pipe in “Savitte!...Savitte!...Savittamma!”
Day four, the same “Savitte!...Savitte!...Savittamma!”
Day five, Selvannan suddenly let go! It was a miracle. I managed to “Savitte” all by myself. Sindhu followed soon.
Day six, the cycle yielded like a horse to its master.
Day seven, we were riding with one hand... no hand...standing up...What not!
Day eight, FOOTBALL GROUND! Wow and today more people were there. But first we had to make sure Selvannan wasn’t looking. I took the first chance. Yes! Finally! I finished half a round. But nobody even noticed. Not even the football players. Then I tried the stand up act...and yeah...people were looking. But why were they smiling? You know the ‘the-making-fun-of’ smile. And then I looked a better look around. OO MY GOODNESS!! I stared at the green banner that glared back with the letters F-I-N-A-L-S. I had obviously disturbed the big match.
I then saw Selvannan waving at me. He was becoming more frantic by the moment and his expression was by no means pleasant. I cycled back to the compound. I noticed Sindhu was nowhere to be seen...humph...Wait till she asks for my cycle ...I’ll show her.
All I know is Selvannan began with “Unekene paityama pudichirike?” ( Have you gone mad?). He ended with “Circusle join pananama?” (Want to join a circus?). All the while I kept my stupid smile intact.
Ah..well..at least I did cycle the ground..So I would call it- MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!