21. A girl learned to ride a bike
I was still in school, ninth standard, and was desperate to get a ride to go to tuitions, cycling that far was a huge pain
I am from Odisha, born to an army officer and a school teacher.
My father taught me how to ride when I was in the Ninth standard in school so that I could go to tuitions and my sports practice. I was riding on borrowed bikes since then until 2014 when I got my very own Bullet which took me on many journeys in South India and hopefully beyond.
I had been eating my father's head to either drop/pick me from places or teach me to drive. Driving a car was out of the question, so the only option was a bike. My father is very Olive Green i.e. he is a very typical army officer. He had an old Rajdoot (RD 350) back then which he was very fond of. He instructed me very clearly that he is giving me the bike on loan and I have to take full responsibility for its well-being. I have to do the maintenance on my own and that he can only spare me an hour to teach me how to ride. Once I agreed on his terms and condition he took me and the motorbike to a parade ground 10 km away from our house.
Army officers are time bound and are very busy with their routine, the one hour of riding class was shortened to 15 minutes. He said “I have 15 minutes to teach you how to ride a bike. So, listen carefully and get the bike safely home. If you can learn this once, be prepared to cycle everywhere”. The 15-minute theory started and instructions were given, and I was left alone.
I applied the theory lesson, fell down a couple of times, and got injured badly. But, I learned, and I rode the bike to the military hospital where I got 6 stitches on the wound and got the bike home as I was told to.
Ever since then, I would ride whichever bike I could lay my hands on.
I was never given a new bike so when I wanted to ride a new bike, I would help young bachelor officers get introduced to my senior female schoolmates, break the ice between them, act like a matchmaker and take their bikes for a ride. It was not an easy task but I learned to handle people, I was a very headstrong kid to get what I wanted.
I was always a popular kid in school but by the time I was in Eleventh standard, I had a reputation of a different kind - I was known for being able to ride any type of bike regardless of their make and size. I liked that image of me more than any other. I am still the same headstrong rider I was a decade ago only have grown in attitude and perseverance.
Author: Minakshi Priyadarshini