Of My Raleigh Cycle



Looking back has been to me like singing a song- a song from the Parnassus   that quietly and silently has been hiding    in my heart.  Whenever, I need some comfort, it works as a magical potion and an elixir to revive my lethargic nerves, breathe a new life in my veins, and bring sanguineness to my withering cheeks.
Every moment of my childhood, to use Keats’s phrases has been to me ‘a joy forever’, whose ‘loveliness increases, that will never pass into nothingness, but will still keep a bower quiet us, and a sleep full of sweet dreams…’  
On seeing children,   coming out of schools on their ‘result-day’  jostling, vying and jumping waiving their results cards high in the air like sportsmen  holding their trophies  after victories on the ground, I took a journey down the memory lane. 
‘Examination end-day’ and result-day have been momentous days of my childhood.  These were merry-go-round days, the fret of examinations would start waning of with every blue tick on the ‘date sheet’. The last day of examinations used to be the D-day for all boys- maddeningly hilarious and  rapturous. Out of excitement sometimes we whistled, cried louder and threw stones at each other - a sport that downtown boys have inherited from the olden times.  The long vacations after the examinations, spreading over fifteen days sometimes stretching to a month were soothing and comforting. In true sense these were merrymaking springtime days. At dusk sitting on a shop front, my pals and I drafted programs for the next day and every dawn had its own store of joys for us.  In this column, sometime back, I did write about some of after-examinations pastimes- these ranged from playing cricket and football at Makdoom grounds, Muslim Park grounds, Jamia Masjid, Saraf-wari and occasionally Eidgah.   Boating and fishing was best of pastimes  for us. Often we used to hire a small boat at Naidyar or Saida Kadal, paying a rupee or two for two to three hours for the boat and two heart shaped oars. Armed with homemade fishing tackles, some bait small flour balls, earthworms and an empty basket we embarked on a boat and rowed through translucent waterways to some shady spot in the Nageen Lake for fishing the mirror carp - found in abundance in the lake and its tributaries. I have written that for longer journeys we used to hire bicycles from Hassa Khar, Gula Khar and Abla Khar- owners of three cycle repairing shops in our Mohalla- we paid one anna for two hours and four annas as rent for full day. Those days cycle was best mode of transport- my father and uncle cycled to their offices. It was seen as expensive item of dowry- I remember a couple of bridegrooms in our Mohalla gifted with bicycles, after they made demands for the same. It was my dream to have my own bicycle.
Of all the examinations and results; eight class that was then called as middle examinations had become important and challenging for me. The Board of Secondary Examination conducted this examination and the only University in the state conducted Matriculation examination. The Board examinations were a sieve that separated wheat from the chaff. Many   who failed in these examinations in our school joined their family trade- mostly handicrafts.   My father had promised me that if I passed this examination in first division - I would get “English Raleigh Bicycle” as a gift. It was a great incentive for me in those days- when only there were total three cars in eighteen Mohallas of our locality, one old Mercedes and Chevrolet- owned by relatives of then Prime Minister, Bakshi Ghulam Muhammad and one Ambassador car owned by his supporter- who was introduced to Indian Prime Minister Jawaharlal as Qazi-i-Shehar.
My brother on passing his matriculation was gifted Sen-Raleigh cycle that was manufactured in India and it was three hundred and odd.  My results were declared.  Father was happy at the results. Next day, I accompanied my father to a bicycled shop at the Regal Chowk- the Noor Cycle Works. To my surprise father had already placed an order with him for an English Raleigh cycle for me- the shopkeeper told me, that take care of this bicycle it costs Rs.550.
 I looked and relooked at golden ‘heron head badge – with Raleigh embossed below the handle and on back mudguard of the cycle- All accessories including a rear carrier, a front basket, a bell and a teetee small battery operated horn… cycling my way to home on this new cycle was the happiest day for me..


Lastupdate on : Sat, 3 Nov 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Sat, 3 Nov 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sun, 4 Nov 2012 00:00:00 IST

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