'Flight' of fancy

'Flight' of fancy

Renting a cycle for a rupee or two was the most coveted activity during summer breaks in the mid 80’s. Having a cycle of your own was equivalent to owning a Mercedes for a 10 or 11 year old kid. I was exactly this age when my father made me the proud owner of a 'Mercedes'. By the time, the cycle got delivered to my doorstep, it was dusk and I could not flaunt it in front of my friends.

After doing the customary pooja, my dad handed over the keys to me and said, “You no longer have to take cycle for rent, now practice on your own whenever you want”. The pride and the joy I felt on that day was priceless, remarks my mother, as she fondly recollects the 'good old' days when kids' physical activity meant exercise for the entire body rather than twiddling their fingers on some toys or gadgets like the way her grandchildren 'play' today.

Coming back to my prized possession, I got up at a rather unearthly hour the next day to ensure if my cycle was safe from the prying eyes of a thief or a miscreant. "I have chained your cycle to the window grill, nobody can steal it", my father assured me with a smile. The moment the clock struck 9, I stepped out of the house and went straight to my friend Rupa’s house which was an uphill ride from my place.

Panting and puffing, I knocked on her door. Without saying a word she jumped with joy toward my cycle. "Please let me ride and then we can do ‘doubles’," she said. Eager to show my cycle riding skills, I said cheekily, “Why don’t you see my high speed downhill descent first?” Three more friends joined in to cheer me and off I went riding at full speed. In fact, I didn’t have to peddle at all as the road had a steep downward fall and suddenly got levelled at the centre and then the spiralling effect resumed.

My legs moving at full speed, I let go of my hand in a rather foolish spirit of adventure. I could faintly hear my friends cheering while Rupa’s warnings fell on deaf ears. The euphoric effect of being in the air was not my imagination but I was actually flying, having lost complete control of the cycle not to mention my intellection.

My two wheel contraption slid underneath me notwithstanding its owner’s abuse. It safely landed on a pile of sand while yours truly hit mother earth with a huge thud. Both my knees took the brunt of this dramatic fall. The minor bruises on my hand and face healed quickly while getting back to a normal gait took several weeks. My flight of fancy is narrated to this day as a lesson on ‘what not to try on a cycle’.