The village & a Bicycle man: An amalgamation of memory and imagination – in 3 parts.
Comfortably placed on the seat of the bicycle, the bicycle-man once again bowed before the villagers and with folded hands performed a namaskara (the traditional way of saluting with folded hands, both palms joined together and brought up to the front of the face, the tips of the fingers positioned in such a way that they appear centered between the eye brows), with a curious and mischievous smile on his lips, that lit up his face.
The villagers clapped. His wife and their seven years old daughter also clapped. As the claps died down slowly, he announced that on each day evening, during the seven-day period, he would perform feats remaining on the bicycle and his daughter would chip in with her performances that would amaze them.
Word quickly spread in the village that the bicycle man was on the course of performing his oath. Men and women trickled in to watch him on the bicycle and whoever visited brought with them eatables, which they promptly gave them and returned after remaining there for a few minutes and speaking to them some words of admiration.
As promised, he started performing tricks remaining all the time on the bicycle. He started with small tricks since he had to entertain the villagers for a continuous period of seven days. He made rounds remaining on the seat but without holding the handle, made rounds remaining on the back seat and still without holding the handle, he reclined onto the handle and pedaled the cycle without looking onto the front but still made perfect rounds. As days progressed, he performed some really critical things such as making rounds pedaling the cycle, holding in his hands a weighty bamboo pole right in the middle making it to appear in exactly two halves and then shifting it slowly onto his forehead and latter making it stand on his forehead, amazingly balancing it without holding it and bearing all the weight of it (I thought this was one of the hardest and most fantastic of his performances, really!) as the villagers gathered there watched this performance of his with utter amazement and occasionally holding their breaths during the progression of this performance. (There was another great performance using the bamboo pole, which he reserved it for the final, seventh day). Like these he unleashed small and big tricks, one by one, to the amazement of the villagers daily present there.
His seven years old daughter chipped in with her little performances of dancing to the popular filmy songs, she made somersaults forward and backward with equally amazing ease, she passed through a small iron ring, holding it in one hand, from right to left and vice versa again and again with same amazing ease to the astonishment of the villagers present there. Like these, the bicycle-man and his daughter gave many performances on each day and entertained the villagers.
As days passed, the bicycle-man started to appear gradually emaciating and wore an overall tired look on his face; perhaps the ordeal of remaining on the bicycle all the twenty-four hours of the day might have a telling effect upon his overall being. As vouched, he always remained on the bicycle, he ate remaining on the bicycle and he even slept on the bicycle slowly reclining it onto the ground and making it a mat for him to sleep on. Villagers openly sympathized and admired the pains he was taking to stand on his vouched word and perform the oath ha had taken in front of them to its finality. Slowly six days passed and the final seventh day arrived.
The final day was to be a grand show and at the end, he would alight from the bicycle and touch the earth with his feet after successful completion of the seven days’ oath. Villagers – men, women and children – gathered under the tree in great numbers. He looked weak but appeared simmering with great enthusiasm to perform before the crowd. As expected, he started the performances reserved for final day one by one. The harder one was holding the bamboo pole straight, one end in both his palms keeping them at his naval and maintaining the balance remaining on the bicycle, until his daughter climbed it to the top, remained there for a few seconds and came down slowly amid thunderous claps and applause of the crowd.