The kid who stays two doors away from me got a brand new purple bicycle for Deepavali. There’s no stopping him now! From 8 in the morning to 8 in the evening he is riding up and down the street on it, the training wheels making an irritating sound as it moves on the tar. Even worse, the bicycle has a shrill horn that sounds like a cross between a fart and a yelp.

His father removed the training wheels this morning and tried teaching the little lad to balance. Then his mother took up the job followed by his elder sister. His friends joined him at 10 O’clock and by evening he had learnt to ride the bicycle without those annoying training wheels. I’m sure every single person living on this street silently celebrated the demise of the training wheels.

Sitting on the balcony, watching him zoom across the road confidently, my mother remarked how difficult it had been to teach me how to ride a bicycle. Almost everyone who knew me had helped me! I still remember vividly how my parents used to take turns to hold my bicycle and run behind me till they could run no more. The moment they left me, I would promptly crash into the nearest tree or fall into the rain water drain by the roadside. Luckily there were no cars parked all along the street those days unlike now. I can’t even imagine how much trouble my parents would get into if I crashed into a car every time.

The older boys in my street tried to help too but couldn’t do much. I shouldn’t forget to tell you that even the street dogs helped me by running along with me. My mother says that I crashed into a cow once, before falling into the garbage dump it was grazing on. “Cheee” I scream and she says that she had to scrub me clean after taking me back home. I supposedly refused to get on my bicycle after that.

I used to spend my summer vacations in an aunt’s house as both my parents were working. My aunt resolved to make sure I learnt how to cycle before the end of the vacations. Her weak knees wouldn’t let her help me herself. She put her watchman on the job. He too was unsuccessful. Then my cousin brother came home for the holidays. He was given the Herculean task. My aunt would stand on the street and cheer for me every time I started. Then she would hobble across to pick me up when I fell.

The watchman, the neighbour’s watchman, the driver, the gardener, the cousin and the aunt all tried for two months persistently! I don’t know how many times they cursed me but in front of me they always had encouraging words. By the end of the two months I could cycle from my aunt’s gate to her neighbour’s without losing balance. What an achievement that was! I had taken just ten months to learn how to ride a bicycle.

Many years have passed by and I learnt how to ride a scooter in 10 days and I even learned to drive a car within a month. My dad remarked that given my reputation with the bicycle, he thought I would take 10 years to learn to drive a car!

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