In my formative teen years, I was told cycling adds inches in the right place. Vertically, I mean.
I heroically asked my Dad to teach me. It is said, ‘A teacher should never be short tempered; nor should a student be shy.’ Well, Papa and I made up two equal and opposite halves of that saying. Needless to say, the plan soon aborted and gave way to a pregnant pause! And that’s when my brother stepped in. He was more determined than me, more sure of my success and a million times more patient. His exact attitude was :
We chose the wide, uncrowded pathway near our house for practice sessions. Post school and pre dinner. Did he have friends waiting? Yes.
Did he have better plans pending? Yes.
Did he have his own teenager problems looming over him? Yes.
Did he expect a medal in return? No. Money? No.
Surely he had more important personal matters to attend than to spend time soothing my nerves and getting my irritated verbal whiplashes in return! Yet there he was, hour after patient hour jogging behind me with constant instructions and a steady hand to propel me up.
Meanwhile, I always performed better when I was allowed to say, As I graduated from half pedal to full pedal, one fine day I saw him jogging beside me rather than behind me, with a wide grin. He waved to me. Hey! he was supposed to hold onto me! That’s when it dawned that I was on my own and still soaring ahead. Oh! The surge of confidence, the joy of mastering fear, the pleasure of acquiring a new skill.
Truly, the best quality of a skill is that nobody can take it away again. But learning to cycle was not the end of learning. The next lesson was harder. Taking the fall! It had to happen sometime – and it did. Fortunately for me, I fell in good company!
Taking a sharp hairpin bend, I swerved and twisted the handle at an impossible angle. I felt the stunned surprise that the ground should rise up to meet me. Then the the pain shot up my shin and ground reality woke me up. I saw the long oblong of grazed skin peeling off, felt tears smarting my eyes. I waited for my brother to hover me anxiously. My brother stood a carefully careful distance away. He didn’t run up nor did he wipe away my tears. He asked steadily, ‘Are you OK? See if the bicycle is damaged anywhere.’ As it is, my pride was hurt more than I was.
In retrospect, I think it was the perfect response. A shade more paternal and I would have burst into tears. A shade less concerned and I would have been put off forever by the fear of falling.
Here’s a look-back note of gratitude for him. For having the time to invest in me, for being confident in me, for teaching me a lifetime skill and most importantly, for teaching me how to teach! I hope I am that teacher for some student someday. Here are some awesome cycling quotes:
This blog is part of http://www.hdfclife.com/ Apno Ko Apne Dum Pe Jeena Sikhao ‘Happy Hours’ by Indieblogger.