Our loyal Vespa

Our loyal Vespa

I come from a middle class family. We were self-sufficient and content. Bengaluru, in the 1970s, 1980s and even 1990s, had commuters who travelled mainly by two-wheelers. These included the Vespa and Lambretta scooters, lunas, TVS Scooties, and the motorcycles which used to whizz past. As on par to our stature, we owned a sky-blue Vespa scooter, which looked attractive and was functional as well.

As the years panned themselves out, my father rode the scooter, as my mother, like most homemakers at that time, did not know how to ride one, and we three children, my brother, my sister and I, were minors. My father used the scooter to travel to work, he traversed the nearly 40 km from Domlur to Whitefield by scooter. Slowly, however, as he grew older, he felt travelling so far was taking a toll on his health and therefore switched to public transport.

However, though my father no longer went to work by scooter, it was still used for family transport during the evenings when he returned from work, and on weekends. As we rode pillion, my father in front would take us to functions, to markets to buy groceries and occasionally to theatres to watch movies. I still vividly remember going for the movie, ‘My Fair Lady’ at Lido theatre, and returning home on the scooter in a daze.

Years slowly passed by. The petrol prices began rising at an unprecedented rate, with my father’s salary not being able to keep pace with it. The gist of this is that we would have to use the scooter minimally and only for dire emergencies. Once when the scooter was taken for servicing, my father discovered that its faithful engine was now playing truant. It remained in the drawing room for the next 4-5 years.

How we loved the scooter in the drawing room! It was like a piece of furniture as it provided two more seats apart from the plush sofa. Additionally, it doubled up as a stool, a rack on which we occasionally flung the towel, and a side table to keep newspapers, coffee mugs and grocery bags. It had assumed much importance when the neighbouring children used it to play ‘House-House’ and ‘Cops and Robbers’ as they pretended to Manoeuvre the scooter through Bengaluru’s traffic-ridden roads!

Then, one day, my father, with a heavy heart, said that he would have to sell the scooter. The next day, the scooter was taken. We three siblings observed the empty space in the drawing room and burst into tears. The loyal scooter which had seen us grow from impetuous children to now grown-up adults was gone forever. It was almost as if it had taken a part of our nostalgic childhood with it. For now in Bengaluru, the roads are riddled with autorickshaws, metros and Ola and Uber taxies that zigzag across the topography. What a far cry from those good old days of ‘Ye Olde Bangalore’ when amidst avenues of tree-lined roads, beautiful Vespa scooters ruled.