Representational image. Courtesy: Google Images

Representational image. Courtesy: Google Images

It was around thirty years ago, when I was in Std V, my dad, who would usually walk home from the office at the end of the day, rode a second-hand bicycle to home. I felt excited when I saw him dismounting his new vehicle and curiously enquired about its ownership. He told me that he bought it from one of his superiors. I remember the day very well because I immediately borrowed my father’s new possession and started riding it. And while riding, as I was still in a nascent stage of acquiring the bicycle riding skill, upset it and crashed it to the floor, which caused its pedal to bend. I got a thorough dressing down from my father and hence remember the day in a vivid detail.

My dad, being a third class employee with a state government, would draw very less amount of salary in those days and with that salary, he could only afford a second-hand bicycle. After thirty years, many things changed in his life, but one thing remained constant. The bicycle! It is not the same old bicycle. Only frame and carriage descended from the original one and all the other components changed. Now, with its paint completely peeled off and its looks completely deteriorated, anybody else would have scrapped it without any second thoughts, and would have replaced it with a brand new motorbike or scooter. But my father doesn’t do that.

I and my sister, many a time, requested him to scrap the dilapidated bicycle and we even proposed to get a new moped for him. He bluntly refused to accept any motorized vehicle and insisted on retaining his favorite bicycle, and even chastened both of us for advising him to scrap it. He loves it very much and strongly feels that it served him a lot in his life and scrapping it would amount to sheer ingratitude. The bicycle is not even properly lubricated and any new person would find himself huffing and panting after he rides it for ten or fifteen minutes. Some people even derisively call him as a rider of a dilapidated, ugly looking bicycle. But he never cares. Bicycling every day is what enables him to keep ticking. Now he is around 75 years old and he rarely visits a physician.

Many people, including me, thought that my dad is very regressive and doesn’t fit into this 21st-century lifestyle and culture. However, after closely observing the blind pursuit of material things many people are engaged in, I started feeling that there is some message in his lifestyle. You may feel tempted to come to the conclusion that he can’t afford to buy a moped or a scooter, and that is the reason he still rides a bicycle. But that is not true. He may not be able to afford a car but a good moped or a scooter is certainly not beyond his affordability. However, he doesn’t want to acquire one and he is fully satisfied with his old, loyal carrier. At a time when the exhaust fumes from the motor vehicles are causing damage to the lungs of the people and governments are imposing car-free days, his lifestyle appears healthy, cost-effective and sustainable.

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