“Baba, when will I get my new bicycle”, was the innocent query of my 11-year old son Joy , who for the last many days was asking for bicycle. I also knew he needs one, but I was avoiding it because I thought he was still small for full size bicycle.
“My friends now come to school in their bicycles,” he again said looking straight into my eyes, trying to fathom my indecisiveness. I turned around avoiding eye contact. I looked at the road and saw a boy of almost my son’s age riding his bicycle.
I looked at my son. His eyes were still gazing at me. He smiled and looked at the boy who was merrily singing a rowdy number from Rowdy Rathore. His chin rested on the Iron Gate and hands carelessly hanging across the gate and was looking at the boy intently.
I realised it was the time to say yes. I again looked at Joy, gave a tap on his head and said: “Should we go now.”
Joy looked at me with a jerk. He gave me a fixed gaze of few seconds as if trying to read my seriousness and asked: “To buy new cycle?”
Before I could say yes, he ran inside like a dart. I followed him. Excitement was writ large on his face. There was a gleam in his eyes and told his mother: “Ma, I will get my new bicycle, today and now.”
The next minute he came running out wearing his sandals and creasing his hairs with fingers of his right hand. “From where we will purchase cycle,” he asked. He did not wait for my answer. He gave names of three shops. He already had done his home work. Looking at the 4 ft plus frame of Joy I realised for the first time he has grown old.
It took almost an hour to select the bicycle. Joy tried almost a dozen cycles. He asked questions about available colour combinations, the quality of brakes, seat height and how it could be adjusted, and even asked the price. Ultimately, he selected one red coloured Hercules cycle. Once he was through, the salesman asked the mechanic to complete the fittings.
Joy stood there with hands on his waist as mechanic worked on his bicycle. Of and on he looked at me, he threw a smile, took a few impatient paces in the shop floor and again stood close to his new possession.
“Please do it fast,’ Joy said in an impatient tone.
Elderly mechanic threw a glance at Joy and said: “Bus ho gaya.”
Once he was through mechanic asked how that cycle would be taken home.“I will ride it,’ Joy said.
I did not interfere. Our home was almost 3 km from that shop. I sat on the wheel of my car and Joy on his bicycle. I followed Joy as he proudly maneuvered his cycle through busy crossings and fast traffic.
For the first time I did not mind trailing my son, after all he has grown old.