It is a new month and I had this idea of posting something everyday. I am going to try. I am going to write snippets about my dad. He is in the hospital right now. A lot of incidents about him come to my mind and I want to record them here.
Appa always wanted me to be independent. He never saw me any different from my brothers and treated us all the same. My mom does not know to ride a cycle and he wanted me to learn to ride a bike when I was 5 years old. In those days we don’t just go and buy a bicycle. It is expensive and we were not that well off. We used to get bicycles for rent. It used to be 1 rupee for one hour. He rented a small one and ran behind me in our small narrow lane. Remember, those bikes had no training wheel. He would be behind me all the time holding the bike till I got my balance. I would get distracted and would get reprimanded when I saw left or right and not straight. I learnt to ride in a straight line in two days. After that he taught me to make turns. He would stand in one end of the street and my brother on the other side. I would go straight in between and they would help me with the turns. Finally I mastered that too. Then my appa taught me how to start the cycle by myself. Finally, once I mastered riding by myself, my dad got a hand me down bike from one of his friends. It was so old and rickety but I was so happy that I had a bike of my own.
I used to go to school in a rickshaw. The rickshaw wala used to pick up few more kids on the way to school. One of the kids picked up after me was always late. Sometimes she would wake up only after we reach her house. This delayed us getting to school on time most of the days. I used to get late slip for no fault of mine. I complained to my parents. They spoke to the rickshaw wala but things did not improve.
One day, when I was in third grade, I told my parents I would rather walk to school than to go late. My school was a good 1.5km from my house. Walking would take about 20 mins. There was a busy intersection that need to be crossed to go to my school. My dad told me that I can go by bike to school. My mom was surprised by his decision and told him that I was too young to drive by myself all the way to school. But my dad said, ‘she will manage. Don’t worry.’ I was super thrilled. I biked to school from then on. I got down at the busy intersection. Crossed the road and then got on the bike again.
Appa always told me that when you are driving on the road, think that the rest of the people on the road are blind, deaf and are idiots. You have to be careful when you drive. Never try to blame the other person for your poor driving. I always followed that advice and even today think about it while driving.
When I was 16, Appa got me the driving license for non-geared two wheelers and bought me a second hand TVS-50. I was able to take my mom everywhere in that. My mom was super proud that I could do what she could never muster courage to do. I tried teaching my mom but she was super scared that she would hurt herself if she fell down. My appa taught me how to clean the spark plug and how to maintain the moped.
When I got Sonu and Nattu their first bikes, it had training wheels. They could ride by themselves and I was happy seeing them bike. When Sonu turned five, I removed one of the training wheels and ask him to ride. He was not happy and was having a hard time to balance. I took off the other training wheel and ran behind him like how my dad did when he taught me. Sonu was not happy to do all the work but I wanted to do what my dad did to me. Sonu learnt to balance within a couple of days and then I worked on his turns. It was so nostalgic doing to my son what my dad did to me. When Nattu turned five I repeated the same with her too.
My kids remember how I taught them to ride the bike and I am happy that I have made memories that they will carry with them just like how I still carry mine.