Wednesday, 10 August 2011

Bike and seek..

This might get lost in between the flight training posts, but it's been kicking around for a while, so i thought i'd post it anyway..

Afternoons were a source of trouble and stories when we were children, but this one is from the evening. Given that we had a year-round capability to get into trouble, it was hardly surprising that every now and then there was a rush to the hospital even during school days when we had a mere two hours to get into trouble. Efficient that we were, these two hour playtimes led to stitches, fractures, casts.. all trophies of our heydays. This particular story is about a fracture.

My brother was lucky, he once broke his arm. He was trying something on the gymnastic high bar at school and fell down on his hand, fracturing his wrist (if i remember correctly). This established two things : my brother was a lousy gymnast, and our physician was a lousy doctor. The doc sent him off after checking his xray, saying that he had no fracture. That weekend, my brother fell from a tree and the doctor who checked him this time round, looked at his old xray and said there was a clear fracture. History is witness that my brother then broke the same wrist a few more times just as it was about to heal, and each time in increasingly bizarre ways. Everyone scribbled on his cast, and he used the cast as a weapon against me when we fought. I wanted a cast, but unfortunately never broke any bones, at least when those things mattered.

Hide and seek was a favourite pastime of ours, and we played hide and seek way beyond the age when it was supposed to become embarrassing. The gang in the colony were isolated from other kids for the most part, and we all went to different schools. It wasn't embarrassing to us, though i doubt few ever told people outside that we played hide and seek every evening after an hour of football or cricket at school. There were very strict rules regarding where we could hide and couldnt, owing mostly to irate neighbours who didn't want us running about looking for hiding places on their property. So the hiding zones were restricted to our yard, a neighbours yard, and a few roads nearby. Wooded areas were vetoed thanks to safety concerns from parents, and that left us with very few options. Yet we continued to innovate on where we could hide, so that the game wouldn't get reduced to a running race where the fastest to get back to base would win.

One such innovation involved the use of bicycles, and was played for a grand total of one day. And I'll tell you why. One of the limitations on the size of our hiding zones was the fact that we were kids of varying ages. The smaller ones wouldn't be able to keep up if we were allowed to hide in vast areas, so there were self imposed area regulations. You could go down the road to Rosey auntie's house for instance, but only as far as the tree opposite, not all the way to the end of her property. Some wise guy came up with the brilliant idea that we should play hide and seek on bicycles. The rules were simple, since we had bicycles, we could hide all over the colony, but had to hide the bicycles too. The guy who came to seek us out would also be on a bicycle, and when spotted, we had to try and beat him back to the gate of my house (which was the base) in order to win. Everyone agreed excitedly, and wondered why we hadn't thought of this before. The game was on.

I found a rather nice place to hide, and since it was a fairly big place, i soon had everyone piling up their bicycles next to mine. We sat there waiting for the seeker to come, and after twenty minutes or so, he finally came and spotted us. The hiding place was in one of the farther reaches of the colony, and what followed next was an epic cycle race, with the seeker in front and all of us trying to catch up so we wont lose. Since everyone had piled their bicycles on to mine, I was the last to leave since extricating my Hercules MTB from the pile took time and effort. But I wasn't unduly worried; the rest were all on small BSA champ type bikes, and i could easily overhaul them with my large set of wheels. The ride back would take about three to four minutes, and i slowly started getting to the front of the pack. Soon enough, my trusty Hercules overtook pretty much everyone, and only my brother and the seeker were ahead. As I pulled alongside to overtake my brother with about twenty yards left to go, he did the sort of dumb thing that younger siblings are prone to do. He popped a wheelie.

I have tried many times since to rationalize his thought process. At a moment when he's ahead of the pack, with only one guy to overtake, and with time running out, when all he should be thinking about was overtaking and winning, what the hell would prompt him to pop a wheelie? And that wasn't the worst part, he didn't even know how to pop a wheelie. The front wheel rose in the air, tilted to the right, and fell down in front of me as I was passing him at high speed. I was thrown forward, and I'm told the cycle did a beautiful airborne spin before landing behind me. The number of spins it did grew each time the story was told, reaching as high as 3 or 4 before we realized it was ridiculous. It took a coupla seconds for the pain to kick in, and I realized something was wrong with my tooth. It wasn't the first time, and it certainly wasn't the last time, my tooth had taken the brunt of impact. Top left incisor partially ground off by asphalt. We never played this brand of hide and seek again.

There was a rush to a dentist, some vague talk of surgery, medications, and finally a cap was fitted to cover up the gap in my smile. An Xray of my tooth was taken, and I was given the tiny postal stamp size film of it which showed two fractures. For me, that was the silver lining. This was no wrist or leg, but two fractures in something that tiny oughta count! Despite the pain, I was elated by the whole Xray affair, and walked into school next day with the postage stamp film that carried precious evidence of glory.

Five minutes later, I was deflated when someone pointed out to those poring over the xray that the fractures on my tooth formed the shape of an underwear.