(A certain street in Duliajan)
Disclaimer: I do not claim copyright of this image. It was not clicked by me.
Last month, on a lazy Saturday I woke up thinking about our old scooter. A green and black Lambda. As I made my morning coffee, my thoughts wandered off to the good old days when the Lambda was an important part of our life.
The Lambda was unattractive and old. It was infamous as the noisiest vehicle in our locality. Yet, it was dearest to my father. Every morning at 9, he would get on it and leave for work. And every night, we would wait for the familiar noise of the scooter, which would come from afar announcing his return. Its noise was a commotion for many, but for us it was the feeling of comfort and happiness of having one’s father home.
The ability to accommodate our big family successfully on the Lambda was a talent in itself. There were some fixed steps to do it. At first, my father would start the scooter, sit on it and hold it firmly. My mother would sit on the back seat. Next, my sister would lift herself up with the help of the foot rest to sit on mother’s lap. Brother and I would stand on its front deck, with our bodies slightly bent lest we obstruct father’s view.
For others, maybe we looked like some 80’s movie poster where a family happily rides on a scooter together. But, on the inside, there were constant struggle for us to keep our feet on that tiny deck without stomping on each other’s feet. Mother always had to sit cautiously; she was scared to even move her muscles. Father would sit calm and composed balancing the scooter marvellously, all way. Lambda was the first thing which made me realize my father’s strength. I saw him as a hero when he rode it.
I called him last evening to ask about the Lambda. I could imagine him smile at the sudden mention of his long lost companion. He told me how he had bought it for a mere sum of 1500 rupees.
He had a special bond with it. It was my father’s best confidant. It had witnessed both my father’s forgetfulness and love. Once he forgot to pick my siblings from school. When he realised, he rushed back on his scooter to get them and found them sitting on the school porch till late noon. Another time, my mother sat on it all night long, because father didn’t open the main door; he had apparently forgotten that she was yet to come back from a party, and fell asleep. The Lambda also helped in bringing home our first bicycle on it’s back. I wonder if it was as proud and happy as my father was, to see us grow!
Father told me how mother didn’t like it much. He narrated instances when she coaxed him to sell it. But, every time he had his reasons- “the engine is still running fine“. “They don’t produce this model anymore“. “I will sell it when it stops working beyond repair“, and thus, held on to it for years. According to him, her patience exhausted the day when he took us (the children) out on the scooter. While returning, it broke down in the middle of the road leaving no option but to push it home, with his three children in tow.
My father rode it happily for many years till the January’ 99. That year we had moved to a new house, and owing to its close proximity to father’s office, market, and hospital, father hardly got any opportunity to ride it again. The scooter got a place of honour in our society’s parking lot. Occasionally, my younger brother would go and pretend to ride it. Sometimes, when we passed by it, we would lovingly trace our finger on its dusty seat and think about the good old days. Dad religiously saw it every day as he walked to office, but that was it. After few years, our interactions with the Lambda slowly came to an end. And, it stood in the parking lot gathering rust and dust.
Then one fine day, one of father’s colleague put a ‘For sale’ sign on it, and offered it for 500 rupees. Mother laughed at the prank saying noone would pay 500 for that rust. But, the very next day, a person showed up to buy it. Father never wanted to sell it, but for him the sadness of seeing the Lambda standing all alone was more than not seeing it at all. Also, he wanted to prove to my mother that his Lambda was still worthy. So, he took it out for one last ride and happily let it go.
After this conversation with my father, I realized how without even intending to, he kept the Lambda alive in our heart. He never bought a two-wheeler again.