Happy pedalling!

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Few days ago, I spotted a little girl cycling  around my apartment complex, oblivious to the world. It was nostalgia for me as I remembered my childhood, when as a little girl, I had done the same, albeit a bit later than my friends.

Not adept at pedalling, I spent many an evening watching my friends cycling around our neighbourhood, laughing as they pedalled by.

Their happy demeanour never failed to catch my eye. The ribbons in their pigtails coming loose as they flew past on their cycles, their giggles echoing all around as they swapped jokes about this or that, or teased each other as they raced ahead. How I yearned to join them and experience the magic, myself!

No, they never teased me, or laughed at the lone figure  watching them (with a tinge of jealousy). Their laughter was born out of  the freedom they experienced on their two-wheelers. Or so I would like to believe.

An older cousin promised to teach me to cycle. Sadly, though, he lacked patience and was not very good at managing his time.

Dad used to be busy with his work, and expecting mum to run alongside  me as I cycled, was unimaginable! I remember wondering how long before I would be one of those girls, atop my own bicycle, shrieking with delight.

One fine day, the sun shone from behind the clouds of despair and Lady Luck smiled upon me. Uncle Shri, our friendly neighbour,  called out to me as I stood in my veranda, watching my friends cycle.

Why don’t you join your friends, Shilpa?” he enquired.

“I am afraid I can’t cycle, Uncle,” I murmured, embarrassedly.

“Uh-huh. No problem, child. I will teach you to  cycle. Believe me, it is the most easiest thing on earth! In fact, you can learn it in a day!” he gushed.

His excitement was highly contagious, because no sooner were those words out of his mouth than I grabbed his hand and pulled him towards the shop that gave cycles on rent.

A rupee for an hour was the rent for the rusty  bicycles. I was thrilled simply to be standing there, gaping at those beauties!  It was indeed my lucky day!

Uncle Shri paid the rent and urged me to climb onto a cycle. Gingerly, I perched onto its triangular seat and held the handlebar with my cold and trembling hands. My feet  firmly on the ground, I waited for the next instruction. Uncle Shri noticed the enthusiasm in my eyes, perhaps, because he had this big smile on his benevolent face.

“Now, Shilpa,  all you need to do, is place your feet on the pedals and, well, pedal away!   Oh, and remember,  do not look down. You must focus on the road ahead ,okay? “ he beamed, encouragingly.

“But, Uncle, what if I lose my balance and fall?” I mumbled, nervously.

“Don’t you worry, little one, “ Uncle assured me, “I will run alongside you and hold you if you fall. You just look ahead and pedal, okay?”

Trembling with excitement and nervousness, I began to pedal – slowly, at first, and then a little faster – wobbling and faltering, I manoeuvred my way through the busy street, with Uncle running alongside me, cheering on.

Try as I might, my eyes wouldn’t leave the cycle’s handlebar. I was too exhilarated to remember Uncle’s instructions.  Each time he said, “Look up, Shilpa! You might run into someone!” I would jerk my head up and look ahead, and then lower my head all over again, to gaze at the rotating wheel.

So mesmerised was I in the entire activity, I did not even notice when Uncle let go of my seat. I just kept pedalling on!

I cycled up to my house and called out to mum. Squealed would be the right word here, because she rushed outdoors to see what the matter was. My ear-to-ear grin was enough for mum to know I was finally  fulfilling my dream, thanks to Uncle Shri.

Uncle was so right. That day, I  had learnt to cycle!  Well, almost.  It did take some more days for me to learn to focus on the road. Days, and some mishaps, too.

But, I learnt to cycle, and  soon joined my gang of girls.

And, experienced that magic I had been longing for all those days.

All thanks to Uncle Shri.

Image source: PIXABAY

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53 Replies to “Happy pedalling!”

  1. Its these small acts of kindness that we remember – “Uncle Shri, our friendly neighbour, called out to me as I stood in my veranda, watching my friends cycle.” 🙂

    A few years ago, on a trip to Hampi, I cycled after many many years. The start was wobbly and I forgot to press the brake once (no accidents though). Then, it was all wind and magic. Cycling is so much fun.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. This is such a beautiful post with dollops of nostalgia. You know I don’t know how to cycle. Never needed it having grown up in the hills. But yes, when I see someone cycling I wish I could feel the wind in my hair and the freedom that comes with it. Maybe I’ll learn when M does 🙂

    Thank you for such a lovely post !

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I used to ride the bicycle with side wheels but somehow never got to learn how to cycle on a regular cycle. My sons keep saying that they will teach me but now I doubt if I wish to learn. But yes, it is a joy to see kids cycle.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Awww how awesome is Uncle Shri. It smiled reading your descriptions. I can imagine how happy you must have been. I learnt on the big hero cycle that the adults use to ride. It looked totally comic, until my dad bought be a ladybird.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I remember riding the same BIG Hero cycle after a few years of learning to cycle. It used to look rather intimidating, but, only for a little while. I would forget its size once I began pedalling.
      🙂
      Yes, Uncle Shri was a sweetheart!

      Like

  5. What a kind and loving neighbor Uncle you had Shilpa and loved reading your account through the eyes of the little you! I love the freedom cycing offers and have rented them twice on a holiday to enjoy the city vis-a-vis riding through its bylanes on my own pace!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. This was a very sweet remembrance of a kindly neighbour helping you overcome adversity. You did a good job of conveying both his connection to you, and the community feel of your neighbourhood.

    There were a few instances where the writing could have been tightened a little. The first paragraph was a little wordy, which can distance the reader. Also, where Uncle Shri says “it is the most easiest thing on Earth”, rather than use two superlatives (most and easiest), why not try repeating the phrase, first in English and then in Hindi (or whatever other language Uncle Shri might have used)? It gives emphasis to his words, as well as locating the action culturally.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I realised that error (most easiest) yesterday! I decided to let it be, and remember it the next time.

      And, I wasn’t sure I could use Hindi in this post…but, now that you suggested ..I will keep it in mind.

      Thank you for all your suggestions, Asha! 🙂 I am glad I submitted my post here.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’m always in favour of other languages being introduced to fiction. It keeps us on our toes, and if you do it as a repetition of the English, most readers can follow along with you. You just have to be careful not to overuse it.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I am so glad you had a nice “uncle” to teach you. I learned so young, I don’t even remember the details but I still have the scarred knees to prove it – our street was paved with gravel! I love Asha’s idea about incorporating the Hindi. Shailaja did a great job of that week before last.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I loved Asha’s suggestions, too! And, am definitely going to use those in my future posts! And, yes, Shailaja is truly an inspiration! It’s her post that inspired me to make an attempt here! 🙂
      Thank you so much! 🙂

      Like

  8. This story was enjoyable! But I did think the dialogues didn’t feel as natural as they should have. Is it probably because you’re writing from memory, and we sometimes have to fill in the gaps when our memory is being a little unreliable? 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, Anu. This happened way back, when I was, I guess, 8, or 9. So, the dialogues are something I had to use to fill up some gaps. I agree, they don’t sound as natural as they should have, given the setting.
      Thank you for bringing that to my attention!

      Like

  9. Haven’t we all learnt cycling like that? I don’t even remember who taught me and when 🙂 I still cycle twice a week to my yoga class and back. And I love the early morning fresh air and the peace. Glad you had a kind neighbor. Where did you grow up Shilpa? I’ve not heard of cycles on rent from those days. It is sure a thing now but never a thing from the small city I come from.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. What a lovely bit of nostalgia! I love that it goes from wistful to triumphant with kind assistance from your Uncle/neighbor.

    A small suggestion… in the 3rd paragraph you speak of the girls teasing each other, which I interpreted as good-natured banter. Then you lead the next paragraph with the fact that the girls didn’t tease you. At first I thought you meant you were missing the fun banter. It took a moment to realize the second “tease” was meant as they didn’t pick on you. Using the same word with a different meaning so close together was a bit confusing.

    One of the great things about a piece like this, is it makes me look fondly on my own memories. Thank you!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I thought this was such a sweet story. It may have even inspired me to write my own retelling of when I learnt to ride my bike!

    There was one occasion when I was pulled out of this piece due to a couple of cliches used in one paragraph. I also thought the ending was a little repetitive.

    Thanks for sharing such a warm story.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. It was kind of your neighbour Uncle Shri to teach you how to ride a cycle when your parents were busy with their work. “Those trembling hands on the handle,” led me back to my cycling learning days. My father taught me (and he also taught my brother as well Dhruv) and I was a disaster. I was such a nervous wreck in everything I did or I learned that it took me ages to get comfortable with anything and thus was also the case with cycling. Uff…itni kahaniyan hain na ki 10 saal tak blog likhun to bhi kam na padein. Let me just applaud you that you learnt it in a day.
    I went through all the comments above and I admire you for the way you have accepted the feedback on your writing. And I also got to know a thing or two.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I so enjoy reading your comments, Anamika! It’s as if you were sitting here, with me, and narrating anecdotes from your life!
      Yes, I was lucky Uncle Shri taught me to cycle. It did feel awesome to the kid in me to be able to roam the streets of my neighbourhood on my cycle!
      Yes, YeahWrite is one place, I discovered through Shailaja, which helps improve your writing to a great extent. Earlier, I used to feel quite intimidated with all the critique, but now have learnt that it’s not me they are criticising, but just pointing out the areas where I need to work harder, in order to write impeccably!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Cycling made your memories of growing up in a vivid tale. I could visualize the entire narration and a compelling read. It brought back memories of learning to cycle, tripping with bruises and getting back on the feet, Shilpa.

    Liked by 1 person

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