“Aaj School ki chhutti hai ”, shouted back Karan winking at his younger brother Arjun. This was today’s excuse for not going to school. They were taking their chances since the “Kala Ghoda” wasn’t to be seen.But, the mother was not to be fooled today. She dreaded the days when the 2 kids would be at home without their father around to keep their mischief in check.
The boys reluctantly got ready, packed their bags and started their long walk to the school. The mother had after all agreed to speak to their father to get them a new pair of shoes. The heat wave, the long walks and lot of pebble kicking on the way had taken a toll on the resilient canvas shoes.
They walked discussing about their latest fascination: their father’s bicycle. They were in complete awe of it, they called it the “Kala Ghoda”. Their father was the village postman and spent more time with the bicycle than with them. The boys had grown up watching their father take care of his cycle, like a prized possession. At home the mother often joked that “Kala Ghoda” was actually their eldest brother.
When they were younger, they would eagerly wait for their Sunday rides with father. That was a day to enjoy the glory and wreak envy on other kids. They’d watch with pride as onlookers and passersby greeted their father with “Namaskara” and their father would wave back at them. They always felt that it was the bicycle which got them those glances and that respect.
They also had their share of bruises and cuts whenever they tried to meddle with the cycle in absence of their father. They had now decided to tame the “Kala Ghoda” and take the cycle to the school at the first opportunity.
They blushed imagining the moment when the guard would open the gates and they would park their cycle next to the Headmaster’s cycle. After a lot of negotiations, it was mutually agreed that the elder Karan would ride it to the school and Arjun would ride back. To sweeten the deal, Arjun would get
to park the cycle and keep the keys during school hours.
The lookout for the opportunity had begun. However, the fact that cycling had to be learnt first didn’t seem much of concern to them. After all, they had grown up watching their father easily do it every day.
One morning, they saw their mother handing over the lunchbox and grocery bags to their father. It was easy to guess that it was his monthly trip to the town. They were happy that their new pair of shoes would arrive today, but happier that their moment had arrived!
In a flash they put on their uniform, packed their bags, said goodbye to their old pair of shoes and left the house with the bicycle.
A few minutes and many falls later, they were still struggling to keep the bicycle running with 2 riders. They took turns to sit, while the other pushed. In this process, they had done damage to the cycle and to themselves. They were also very worried about the consequences in the evening.
But, it was a small price to pay for the grand welcome they anticipated at school. They were to create history and it takes sacrifices to become legends.
As Karan approached the last turn to the school, their heart raced. The next moment, both of them froze in disbelief, as they read the message outside the school.
“Aaj School ki chhutti hai”
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