Part I: My Chittagong life

Longing for a bicycle of my own

When I was five or six years old, I was dying to have a bicycle of my own. I wanted to have a proper two-wheel bicycle. It was beneath my dignity to have a three-wheel one. So I used to scream and cry for my parents to buy me a bicycle.

My parents allowed my elder brother Mantu to get a two-wheel bicycle, so I thought: What is wrong with me? I was smarter than Mantu in every way. How could he get one? But, unfortunately, he was so tall and I was so short. I cried and cried, but my parents were very strict. Mantu was showing off with his proper bicycle and I was not allowed. What could I do? I had to be satisfied with a children's tricycle.

Then one day I saw a small two-wheel bicycle in a shop near our bank. I was so happy! I liked that bicycle very much. I went inside the shop to ask the price. I had no money, but I was so eager to buy that bicycle.

I said to the owner of the bicycle shop, "Is this one for sale?" He said, "Yes, that bicycle is for sale. For twenty or even fifteen rupees you can have it." I was so thrilled.

This happened in the morning. I ran back to the bank and told my brother Chitta the good news. Chitta said, "No, no, no! They are not going to sell that bicycle."

I said, "Definitely it is for sale. They told me." Then I started crying and crying in front of him for that bicycle. Finally, he asked, "Which place is it?" I described where the shop was. Then Chitta said, "When I have finished my work, we can go and make enquiries." I was bursting with happiness.

At our bank, we had three peons or messengers. Now my brother was very clever. He secretly sent one of the peons from the bank to go to that bicycle shop and give the man three rupees to tell us that the bicycle I had chosen was already sold.

When Chitta had finished his work for the day, I literally dragged him to the bicycle shop. It was only a few hours since I had been there, but the shop owner said, "I am sorry, but that bicycle is already sold." My brother pretended to be very innocent.

What can you do? A beggar cannot be a chooser. My brother did not want me to have a two-wheel bicycle because he felt I was too young to ride one. He was afraid that I would meet with an accident. So I had to be satisfied with sitting on the back seat of one of our messengers' bicycles.

This is how my brother Chitta played a trick on me. I did not find out that he had fooled me until long afterwards, when I was at the Sri Aurobindo Ashram. There he told me the truth.