By Ahmet Abdulaziz….
I noticed them a couple of days back, in the evening, in front of my apartment building. They are two young sisters. The older one is perhaps ten or eleven, whereas the other one is perhaps one or two years younger than her. They seem to have moved to this locality recently. In fact, what made me notice them, is that they have one small bicycle. The two sisters come out to have a ride on their bicycle.
There seems nothing astonishing in this. It seems that they have learned riding the bicycle recently, and come out in the evening to practice. But interestingly the older girl mostly continues riding the bike, whereas the younger sister keeps on following her half running, and asking her to give her a chance. However, the older one usually allows her younger sister just once or twice and that is for a very small period of time. Obviously the older sister takes advantage of her age, and the younger sister suffers.
All this took me back to the early 1960s when I too had passed through almost the same situation. My brother, who was two years older than me, had by then learned riding the bicycle, whereas I had not. I was perhaps 9 or 10 years old. We did not have a bicycle of our own. There were two shops at a distance where they used to rent out bicycles. The charges were half a rupee for an hour. Once a week my mother had been sending me along with my older brother to learn.
There was a big piece of open area near that shop. Other boys of the locality also used to practice cycling there. In the evening, however, the same lot had been used as a playground for children of the area. Cricket and hockey were the popular games that were played there.
Returning back to my story. On the first day, when I went with my older brother, he took one medium sized bicycle, so that my feet would touch the ground and I would not fall off. First of all, he took the bicycle and told me to observe how he would ride. He peddled the bicycle and went away. I started running after him. He did not stop and kept on going round in big circles. Soon I got exhausted and stopped, He came back to me after some time, and asked me to try. He held the bicycle while I climbed on. He controlled the handles, whereas I tried to peddle it. Of course, that was not so easy. He tried to walk while holding the handles. I could not manage to balance, and I fell off over him. We all three fell down (the third one was the bicycle).
He tried to teach me that way a couple of times, but unfortunately, I was not a good student. So he went for the most appropriate option. He told me to continue observing him, as he peddled away on the bicycle, enjoying the ride himself, here and there on that waste ground – I kept on asking him to give me another chance, but he did not.
In those days we did not have any wristwatches, so frequently he had been going to the shop to ask about how much time was left.
So on that first occasion, I had not even tried for five minutes, while my brother made the best use of the bicycle for the remaining 55 minutes.
The story repeated for a few more weeks. He kept on riding, leaving me behind to follow him running. However, over the passage of time, he started giving me more time, as I progressed. Ultimately, I found myself confident enough to ask him to let me have the bicycle for a longer period of time.
After some time, when I had learned, our mother started allowing us to rent two bicycles at a time, but of course, she had shortened the period. So we were paying quarter rupee for each bicycle for half an hour.
Indeed that was one wonderful period of my life. Those days pass before my eyes as I see those two small sisters riding the bicycle in front of our apartment building daily.