Saturday, September 20, 2008

A story

"I'd been wanting to buy myself a bicycle for a while now, but there were a few hurdles facing me that had caused me to put off actually visiting a bike shop. One, and one of the more important ones, was the question of where the bike would go once I bought it. The apartment complex I live in has covered parking for bikes, but I wasn't sure if it was "first-come, first-served" parking, or if the spaces were assigned to specific apartments.

"The weather had gotten more pleasant now that Summer had ended, and the desire to go out riding around the neighborhood had gotten stronger. So I asked my wife how parking worked here. She told me that she wasn't sure, but she'd check. It wasn't an important question for her, since neither she nor my mother-in-law had learned how to ride a bike. My father-in-law had passed away a long time ago and I'd never met him. However, my wife told me that he'd had a bike that he used to ride, but she didn't know what had happened to it.

"Finally, I announced that I'd buy myself a mountain bike. This forced my wife to call the landlord and ask about bike parking. A few minutes later, the two of us went outside. There, about 40 feet from the front of the building, in the first space in row 10 of the covered bike lot, was a blue 'mama chari'. The key lock and bearings had rusted over and the tires had gone flat, but otherwise the bike was still in amazingly good condition for having spent over 15 years being exposed to the elements.

"A feeling of sadness fell over me. The lot contained at least 100 other bikes of varying ages, and my father-in-law's bike was the first one that people had to walk past to get to the rest of the lot. And for 15 years after his passing, this bike had been quietly ignored. That's a fate that no one deserves, especially not a bicycle that had loyally served its owner without complaint. At least it had fared better than if it had been left in the U.S. - no one had vandalized it. I asked my wife to arrange with the city to pick the bike up for recycling. Then we walked back to the apartment, passing by a pink mama chari, its tires flat and the frame speckled with a growing outbreak of rust."

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