While growing up my brother and I used to visit my eldest aunt pretty often… specially for summer vacations. My cousin had a bicycle – bsa champ… Every evening he used to go out for a ride with his friends. I did not know how to ride so I would have to stay back…. I hated it. One evening when my brother was getting ready to step out my aunt asked, ” How about we all go out for a walk today?”. We all agreed with excitement. My cousin , however, decided to take his bike. He would ride a certain distance and wait till we would catch up.
“I want to try too..?”, I demanded and he readily offered to teach me. I was too scared to learn from him… ‘we both were too tiny for the bike’ I thought. “Come on, try”, my aunt said… I looked at her not knowing how to react. I thought she doesn’t remember that I don’t know how to ride. “Get down… let me help your sister..”, she commanded. “But I can teach her…”, my cousin protested as he got down while she held the bike. She looked at me and asked me to hop on. I was very excited and scared too. “I will hold it for you … don’t worry it is very easy. Just keep cycling and look straight ahead”, she assured me. I got on the bike and started cycling.
Slow and wobbly at first… I looked back a couple times to make sure she is holding it. “Don’t look back… you will fall if you don’t focus on the road ahead of you. Just keep cycling…”, she encouraged me in an authoritative tone. It was a lot of effort to keep the handle steady and balance myself with the bike but she made sure I don’t give up and I soon got a hang of it.
When I felt confident I started cycling faster… The bike picked up some speed and I wondered if she was still holding the bike when I heard her say, “Yeah! good job… keep going”. I could hear her footsteps, she was probably running to keep pace with me.
I felt so excited and happy but I could not resist looking back..”Oh…”, I cried, “You are not holding…”.
“I told you don’t worry… you are doing great. Keep going…” she almost held the bike again as she said so, but the fear had set in and I lost control… little struggle and BAMM!! I was in a pit on the side of the road. “Ah! it’s okay… you are fine, it happens…” she said as she rushed to pick me up. ” But why did you leave me? You promised…”, I complained as I brushed the dust off of my clothes. “Yes I did but I also told you to not look back. You fell because you got scared. But don’t worry… you will be fine and…”
“But I am hurt…see…”, I cried as I showed her the wrist of my left hand…. it was bleeding. She caressed the wound and removed the tiny twig that had caused the wound. “Oh that is nothing… how will you learn to ride without falling off of the bike…”, she said with a comforting tone, “Come on! we got to try again… This time no looking back and you will be just fine…”. I looked at her and knew there was no getting out of it… with a deep breath I took the bike again. This time I did not look back.. I knew she was not holding the bike but she was there to help me get up if I fall again.
It was then that I learned something very important… a lesson more important than riding a bike… a lesson that has helped me all my life… ‘If you don’t want to fall, look ahead… and if you do, get up and start again”.
Thank you Ritu Maushi for teaching me how to get up after a fall… how to look ahead… how to move on… You are the most courageous woman I have ever known and I thank you for passing it on to me. A very Happy Mother’s Day to you.