My adventures with the bank messenger

My father and Chitta were very strict with me when I went out with the bank messenger on his bicycle. My father did not like me to go at noon because of the heat. He thought that I would become too exhausted. Then Chitta always used to insist that I wear a hat. I never liked hats. But I was the darling of the family and he was worried that I would fall sick.

In spite of their concern, quite often I managed to go out anyway. If they asked me, "Where are you going?" I would say, "I am just going out."

Often one of the bank tellers would let me know when the messenger was leaving. With his eyes he would signal me when it was time for the messenger to go to the various banks, and also he would indicate on which side of the building the messenger was. Then, when I went out, the messenger would be waiting for me.

The messenger was so kind-hearted. His name was Manindra. He was very short and fat. One of his legs was a little shorter than the other, so he used to walk with a limp.

The messenger and I had a special signal that we sometimes used. If he was going in one direction, he would use the special signal to tell me to go in the opposite direction. Then I would say to my father, "I am going to buy sweets," so that my father thought I was going the opposite way from where the messenger was going. When I ran out, my friend the messenger would come and pick me up.

Two or three times, the messenger and I both fell off the bicycle. Once it was absolutely the worst experience. The messenger took me to a place quite far away to get a particular kind of toothstick, which is very bitter. He was pedalling very fast, and small branches along the side of the road were striking me.

When we came to a Punjabi-Sikh colony, something really serious happened. The Punjabi-Sikhs are so tall and stout, with beards and moustaches. Three of them started shouting and screaming. They were shouting at somebody else, but we thought that they were screaming at us. I became frightened and fell off the bicycle. Then the messenger fell on top of me. The three men saw that we were frightened and did not come near us.

I started crying and the messenger became very worried about what would happen to him when my family came to learn of our accident. He knew that my father was very compassionate, but he thought that my aunt would not only scold him, but perhaps also fire him. My uncle, my mother's brother, was the assistant manager of a printing press, and quite often I used to sleep at their house when I stayed in town. My uncle used to call me "Rabbit" because one moment I would be near him, and the next moment I would be somewhere else.

When the messenger and I returned that evening and my father heard the story, he was very sad, but he did not scold me. Then he took me to my aunt's house to spend the night. When she found out what had happened, she was so furious. She had something in her hands and she just threw it on the ground. The next day she came to the bank and insulted and scolded the messenger mercilessly. My brother Chitta also scolded him. That day the messenger took an oath that he would never take me on his bicycle again. But his oath only lasted three or four days!