How Long?

I read a blog about long walks recently: an account of a braveheart’s eighty six miles journey for four full days. I automatically started comparing my long walks with the one I was reading about. My friends Biplab or Arnab used to accompany me on these walks. Biplab had a bicycle, so we had an additional option of double loading on his bicycle too. With Arnab, there was no alternative to pure walking all the time. From Our school to Raj Ghat, that’s where we used to go, Arnab and I.

Varanasi Map

Biplab’s bicycle had longer range. It used to take us up to Ram Nagar or Chandasi. We belonged to a pre-pocket money boom phase. So, we never used to have even one rupee in our pockets combined. One day, we were in Ram Nagar when in the hind rim a couple of spokes of Hero Ranger that Biplab was riding simply bent. We had already crossed the road that leads to Padao. We suspected that the rim was “dial” i.e. spokes were loose and needed tightening. We knew that any repair mechanic would charge much more than what we had. So, we went to a cycle repair shop and told the gentleman there to repair it, showing confidence that we had money. He checked the thing and probably did something to repair it.

We went aside and discussed our modus operandi. Biplab was the better runner, so, he would run. It was decided that I’d take the bicycle and flee. That was what we did. After riding for around one hundred metres, I saw a very fast moving thing overtaking me and leaving my bicycle behind by around twenty metres before I could recognize that the thing was my friend. From behind I could actually see the soles of his shoes rise and overlap his head. I had to yell from behind to stop him before he crossed the speed limit. He stopped, we started riding two in a bicycle. As we could not go back, we agreed upon going to Mughalsarai and then return to Varanasi via Padao. We had agreed upon that, not our bicycle.

We had gone less than hundred metres on the bicycle when the rim of the hind wheel actually bent. Now, not only could we not ride it, we actually had to let it ride that eighteen kilogram giant over our shoulders. We took turns carrying it towards our destination. It was an autumn afternoon and we were sweating and hungry. I remember our detour in search of ber to a nearby garden yielding no results. We somehow reached a railway line, crossing which, said Biplab, we would then have to walk a long way to Mughalsarai.

Why Mughalsarai? Because we had no money and his uncle used to live there. I felt it within that if we went there, I’d not return home at my routine four o’ c lock. That breaking of the routine would raise eyebrows and questions, which, in turn might make my parents suspicious. Now that was one thing I could never afford. So, I explained the situation to my friend and took off, leaving him in the quarter-way. I ran, jogged, walked briskly and somehow reached the highway. I jumped into the empty back of a truck and covered some distance, and then I crossed the Malviya Bridge. I finally was assured of my return in time, as I had travelled the distance between Raj Ghat and my place on foot several times. I ran for almost the whole stretch of around six to seven kilometres and returned well in time.

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