The Bicycle Rider


Kirti remained quiet till Bhadaini Pumping Station. While they were crossing the station a bicycle rider overtook them suddenly and that made her apprehensive. She sat straight, started looking around, and looked alert in general. No alarms for the children yet. As they had reached close to Assi Crossing, the place where the rikshaw had to slow down, another bicycle rider veered his bicycle from between the rikshaw and Somu’s bicycle. They collided, Somu fell down and Bhanu had to come down, leaving Lopa with Kirti on the seat. The three men started arguing, and one of them (or two) started using foul language too. That was where it all began from.

Kirti, now in a heightened emotional state, yelled and cried and tried to come down, which she failed to do owing to her physical weakness. The sons had never heard their mother use words that she used then. She was a Banarsi and all the stock swearing vocabulary and ideas were flowing out of her mouth like a flooded Gangaji’s water that day. Rudra Pratap was returning from his constitutional walk when he saw the old lady on a rikshaw swearing and spitting. She was upon the floor of the rikshaw, holding the left arm of the front fork. She was to stay there till they had crossed Lanka and entered the side gate of the compound of Banaras Hindu University.

Both Somu and Bhaal were only thirteen days old in Varanasi and the person they had entered the public discussion with was definitely their senior. He had not only subdued his opponents with the choicest of abuse that he had in his word store, but was also about to start the physical portion of the discussion when Rudra reached the spot. He was nearly Somu’s age but looked more like his elder brother’s age. A sturdy man with  menacing mustaches interrupted the nice good fight about to begin.

That broke the heart of many who had assembled at such a short notice to watch an entertaining scene. Rudra stayed for about ten minutes at Assi after seeing Kirti and her family off. It was a custom with him to take the first tea of the day there. Was it destiny that Rudra had entered Bhaal’s life at that place and time? Was it only a coincidence? Or, is it merely a cheap narrative trick to bring two strands of the story together?

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