Of Bikes, Bravado and Buffoonery

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Somewhere around the age of 14 I initiated and won my first major campaign – That of persuading my parents to buy me a bike. There were only two two-wheelers in fashion those days. They were the very ugly Scooty or the very tiny Sunny – of course considering the limited choice available – I choice the bigger one. So we brought the scooty home – fitted with a proper guard for the front of its nose and all. My uncle took me for a spin in the nearby ground and with the supreme confidence of youth – I decided I was ready to tackle the world after one test ride.

The very next day I get ready to take it out and go for my tuition classes on it. And of course immediately my mother piped in with – ‘why do you want to take it out – this class of yours is merely 5 min away. You can walk. Also you should practice a couple more times with your dad or uncle’. But me being me – I said no – I shall take it out today. To top it – I decided to wear a dress. One of my favorite ones at the time. A pretty beige hand-me-down from one of my aunts in Canada. It fit me beautifully and ended at my knees in a flourish. Then my mom interrupts the mutual admiration club meeting I had going on with myself in the mirror with a ‘ And you are sure you want to wear a dress? Why dont you wear trousers or something more comfortable and practical?’. At 14 – when you hear the word practical – you usually discard the idea immediately.  I just hmmfffed and walk off.

So I take the bike to class and sit through it – all the while patting myself on the back mentally for riding so well and imagining all the looks of envy I was getting from the students who were still cycling to class. At the end of class I walk back to the bike and then begin the real heroics.

I had to enter the main road from a bylane and turn left to go home. At the junction of the bylane and the road was a small speed bump. So when I reached the speed bump driving extremely slowly (trying to be overcautious and responsible – never has this done me any good)- the bike wouldn’t go over. So I revved the engine a slight bit but it still wouldn’t go over – so I gave the accelerator a proper twist. Of course that ensured I shot out from the bylane and jumped and landed smack bang in the middle of the road – where instead of stopping and turning – I panicked and accelerated further – taking me flying across the road into a ditch ( what we love to call nala in hindi) waiting with open arms. The bike dove in nose first followed by me flying over the handles – perfect dress and all. All of this of course happened in my mind in slow motion – matrix style – though to an onlooker must have seemed like 5 sec.

I remember vividly my first thought. ‘Do you think anyone saw my underwear?’

As people rushed to help me up – I was silently recalling what I had put on after my bath. Five min later I remembered – heaved a sigh of relief – I was reasonably presentable – and then went on to worry about minor matters like what had happened to my bike. As people struggled to get the bike out of the ditch – I smoothened out my hair and gathered up the pleats of my dress which had torn somewhere around mid thigh and were now touching my feet. I then held them with one hand around the place they should have been attached, picked up my bag with the other hand and started to walk home. I remember somebody asking ‘what about the bike’ – and I said leave it – I will come back for it later. My extremely shy Math professor who must have been around 23-24 years old himself – asked me if I was ok – and I said I am fine. I think he was debating in his head about how appropriate it would be to drop me home with a torn dress – and finally he decided to play it safe. His concern for his reputation triumphed helping random student who falls into ditches with no external persuasion.

So I walked home amid some very obvious stares and practiced the prologue to be recited for my parents especially my mother. After all I had crashed the brand new bike. When I rang the bell – and my mom opened the door – I was finally beginning to feel a bit worried. I needn’t have bothered. She took one look at me – torn dress and all- and burst into tears – ‘what happened what happened’ – she hollered into my ears.

Nothing serious ma – I crashed the scooty.

She let go of me – and burst into laughter. And you are ok she asked ? I said yes… I am – a couple of bruises thats all but the bike is ruined. And she continued to laugh – at the time I thought she had gone cuckoo.

I repeated – THE BIKE IS RUINED. CRASHED. BROKEN.

No worries she sang… that can be fixed. You are ok.

Cuckoo. Definitely Cuckoo.

A week later  my bike was home after a fancy nose job and my mom had recovered her motherly senses enough to chant ‘I TOLD YOU SO’  loudly twenty times a day.

 

All was well with the world again.

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The hardest thing to do in the world

Is it a 50 km trek? Or 100 push ups? Resisting that second serve of dessert when you are on a weight loss diet? Looking away when you see the ‘SALE’ sign on your favorite shoe store window?

All toughies I’d agree. But the hardest thing in the world is NOT to say “I told you so”.

Your daughter wants to take her new bike for a spin on the very first day without proper practice. You tell her not to. She does it anyway and has a fall. After the initial comforting and crying that ‘oh thank god nothing happened to you my precious’ – what are you really DYING to say? I told you so.

The wife lends the dewy eyed I-need-the-cash-so-badly-I-don’t-know-what-I’l-do  maid a substantial sum of money even though you warned her that the woman is up to no good. She does anyway and the maid then disappears. After the wife’s done venting and apologizing – all thats really on your mind? I told you so. ( sometimes followed by gentle expletives like – you dumb fool).

The husband has a couple of extra pegs of whiskey at his friend’s party and is driving home at top speed even though you told him the traffic policemen are very watchful these days. He does it anyway. You are pulled over. A half an hour of negotiating, paying up and warnings later – when the man returns to the car with a sheepish expression. What you want to do? Take a club and bang his head repeatedly saying what? I told you so.

Being right makes you feel so damn wonderful that sometimes JUST so you can be right – you may even wish that things pan out in the exact same terrible way you predicted it.

Don’t agree?  The next time the teenager in the house gets his grades and flunks the subject that he didn’t study for because there was a rock concert in town – try. Try not to say it. Even better. Try not to think it.

I bet you’d prefer those 100 push ups.