Recently a long time friend was abandoned by my dad. Abandoned for good reasons, but abandoned anyway. Before you start raising your eyebrows over my cool description of such a mean act, let me clarify that I am talking about his decade and a half (probably even more) old Hero Honda bike. I hope some of you now would feel that it should have been done little earlier.
Dad got a promotion and a transfer recently. He tried to get rid of the bike at the old place itself – was ready for anything anyone was ready to pay. Honestly, if somebody had asked he’d probably have given away for free too. But nobody responded positively to his pleas of taking the ownership of the bike. Left with no other option the bike was loaded on to the truck along with other things and transported to the new town. While almost everything else remained intact, as a final blow of old age, the bike lost its headlight. Yeah, it got broken. Considering the kind of injuries this bike had seen in its active life, this was nothing really. But Dad decided that it was no longer fit to even enter the house in the new town and abandoned it right away. Poor thing, it kept lying in an open field, I was told. Interestingly somebody even asked to buy it at that stage, and for a sum that was rather princely for its age and condition. I do not know if the person has taken it away yet.
Now is the time for a flash-back. I do not remember which year it was. I was quite young. And for some weird reason, used to get irked by that Hero Honda advertisement on the television, which sung “Hero Honda – Aapka shaandaar humsafar”. No really do not ask me why, but this ad was one of the very strong and effective tool with my brother when he wanted to tease me. It used to irritate me like hell. And then this happened. Dad had applied for a loan to buy a bike. A Rajdoot. But some policy changes happened in his bank and he got eligible for a higher amount of loan. He got the sanctioned loan cancelled and reapplied to buy a Hero Honda. I wasn’t sure what to do about my irritation with that ad now. And my brother and his friends used it to the best, as long as they could. Somewhere down the line I learned to live with that ad and was of course happy with the new-found mobility in the family.
And in what all circumstances did it not stand by us. Carried everything from cow dung to expensive clothes and monthly grocery. And of course ourselves. What roads to Sripathar, Kasba and Bathnaha (the various places my father was posted at) from Banka, Purnia and Jogbani respectively (the places where we stayed). It rode on. And all those weekly trips back from Navodaya for me. And the amount of luggage we loaded on it. These days I would find it difficult to do with even a small car I guess 😀 The movies with my parents or my brother. The slow and safe ride with my dad, the normal ride with my brother and the adventurous ride with some of his friends. It saw me through all that. Talking about injuries, let me brush off the usual ones here. What I remember most distinctly was that once my father was kick starting it and the kick broke!! Yeah – broke away. When he took it for the repair, the service person was wondering just what kind of accident the bike had seen!
Its sound was so recognizable. There was a definite pattern, I suppose, in the way my dad used to bring it back from the office in the evenings. Not just me, others living around would also recognize the sound. And I can not forget those days when it was stolen. Those were the days when bike robbery was very common in Purnia and the nearby regions. Usually three men will stop you, show a pistol, take the keys and take away the bike. That’s how even our bike was taken away. My dad was returning from the office. I remember that little scene when he returned home that day. We did not hear the sound. Suddenly he was at the door along with one of his colleagues (who gave him the lift after the bike was taken away). Mom asked him, “Gaadi kahan hai?” (Where is the vehicle?). He gave a two word reply, “Chala Gaya” (Its gone). We had heard enough stories to know what had happened. It was a sad moment. We waited for some days for something to happen. Not that there was much hope, given the history of tracing stolen bikes. The bikes were sumggled into Nepal and selling and registering it there was easy. If you are wondering about how was it so easy to smuggle it into Nepal, you have to come and see just how open the Indo-Nepal border is and an Indian bike can legitimately get into Nepal. But probably more for letting the situation sink in than in any hope of finding it, we waited for a while. After that my dad started to look for other options.
Then came the day when he was about to apply for another loan (the loan for the bike was not even repaid by then, if I remember correctly). This time to buy a scooter. True scooter had been a typical family men vehicle for Indian customers at that time. But somehow, we did not quite find the idea of a scooter in our family that attractive. However, right after that incident we did not have heart to go for a motorcycle again.Yeah – scooters were not being robbed – only motorcycles, in fact only Hero Hondas for some reason. Probably that was the most elite bike people would buy there. Anyway, I digress. So, my dad was going to apply for another loan on that day, but we were surprised to find him back at home soon after he left for office. It turned out that the bike was found. Due to strict security at the border for last few days, those people had not yet been able to take it to the other side. They made another attempt at crossing the border on that particular day and were coming back after being unsuccessful. That’s when someone from the police noticed the vehicle. They had changed the number on the number plate. The number they chose was BEK1456 (yeah – I remember it till date 🙂 ). Now as it happened, that the model of the vehicle was comparatively new (yes – new despite having been in use for few years. Life wasn’t that fast yet.). And that series of numbers used to be given long back and was not likely to be for a vehicle of that model. This combined with the fact that so many robberies of Hero Honda were being reported in that area those days made this person suspicious. And he single handedly managed to make the three people stop and catch two of them (One managed to escape). [Sounds very filmi, does it not?]. Then he informed the police stations of other places including Kasba (where my dad worked) and Purnia (where we lived). Interestingly this was the only vehicle that was robbed around that time. In fact, a day before this robbery had taken place, the DM of Purnia had declared that all the gangs involved in this business had been caught and there should be no more incidents of this kind. So, when this happened, the DM personally took it on himself. The incident did become quite famous in the circle that mattered. Plus my dad’s popularity in the small town of Kasba (where he was posted) created quite a bit of pressure on the local police and they were trying their best. So, tracing the owner of the vehicle did not take any time. We got it back. Seems, quite unbelievable even today. But thankfully no scooters for us (until I would buy one for myself many years later of course :D).
But I am sorry my friend. Despite having been with us through all ups and downs (quite literally of those roads on which you treaded), you have to be abandoned now. The person who stuck to you for more than 15 years after having bought you after several years of his job also has to move on. His son changes 3 bikes in 4 years and the daughter buys a scooter in third month of her employment and is not sure whether she’ll stick to it even till the time when the free servicings are over. He also had to move on. And you had to be abandoned. I am only glad that you are not a living being and hence I may continue to keep my fond feelings for you without feeling guilty about your abandonment. You can take solace in the fact that you are being replaced by no one other than a younger member of your own clan. Dad is on his way to becoming “Super Dad” with Hero Honda – Super Splendor. It has self start and all. Hopefully kicking problem would not come in. I haven’t seen it yet. But from what my nephew reported over the phone his dadaji is too much into kick starting the thing and won’t give in to the temptations of self-start. Old habits die hard. I hope I am not up for seeing another kick-break in my next visit to home!!