Riding with the bank messenger

My father worked for the railway for many years. After his retirement, he opened up a bank. The bank had many workers. They were very fond of me and I was fond of them. Quite often I used to ride behind one of the messengers on his bicycle. Many times I fell off because of my restlessness. Then my father would be extremely displeased with the messenger, not with me, because my father knew that my eagerness to go with the messenger would not permit me to listen to my father.

When I was five or six, I was dying to have my own bicycle. I went to a bicycle shop and asked them the price. I had no money, but I was so eager to buy! The bicycle shop owner said, "Yes, for fifteen or twenty rupees you can have a bicycle." I was so happy and delighted, and I went to tell my father and brother about it.

Before my brother went back with me to buy it, he secretly sent a messenger from the bank to tell the owner to say that he didn't have any more bicycles to sell right now. My family felt I was too young to ride alone. What could I do? I had to be satisfied with riding on the back seat of the messenger's bicycle.

My father did not like me to go riding with the messenger at noon because of the heat. He thought that I would become exhausted and fall sick. But quite often I managed to go anyway. If somebody asked me, "Where are you going?" I would say, "I am just going out."

Often one of the bank tellers would tell me 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 on which side of the building the messenger was. Then when I went out, the messenger would be waiting for me.

The messenger and I had a special signal that we sometimes used. If he was going in one direction, he would indicate that I should go in the opposite direction. Then I would say to my father, "I am going to buy sweets,' and make my father feel I was going the opposite way from where the messenger was going. When I ran out, he 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 toothstick. He was pedalling quite 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 were very tall and stout, and they had beards and moustaches. Three of them started shouting and screaming at someone else, but we thought they were screaming at us. I became frightened and fell off the bicycle, and then the messenger fell on top of me.

I started crying, and the messenger was very worried because I was the darling of the family. He knew that my father was compassionate; but he thought that my aunt would not only scold him, but perhaps even fire him.

When I came back 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. When she found out what had happened, she was so furious. The next day when she saw the messenger, she insulted and scolded him like anything. My brother also scolded him. That day the messenger took an oath that he would never take me on his bicycle again. But his oath lasted only three or four days!