The lost bike.
Posted by Paurong sa Miyerkules, Setyembre 19, 2007
Whenever I pass by the big store beside Mang Peping’s sari-sari store on the street where I grew up, I always make it a definite point to spend a couple of minutes looking at the bicycles exhibited behind the large glass. At the age of nine, I may not know how to ride a bike, but I can assure anybody who would raise his eyebrow that I want to own one. There I always was, standing as if I was a little poor kid craving for a yummy hamburger depicted atop the menus on a fastfood chain.
One night, I asked my mother if she could buy me a bicycle. That time, she refused to reply, and, instead, walked out of my room and came back a few minutes later handling a glass of milk for me to drink before going to bed. It was then difficult for me to sleep that night because the idea of having a bicycle, my own bicycle, did not stop on running thousand of miles per nanosecond around my head, until the soundness of the evening let me fall asleep.
Desperate, I asked my mother the next day the same question, and as expected, she refused to reply. I left the house without kissing her goodbye unlike how I exit the scene everyday before going to school.
And going to school is equivalent to going by the big store.
The desperation of owning one of the bicycles urged me to wait for the right time my mother would give out my awaited ‘yes.’
I was excited to return home that afternoon having with me my report card. The special thing I wanted my mother to be surprised of is that I am the top two of the class. As far as delightment is concerned, high grades brush a vivid smile on her face. I wanted to see more glares on her and, who knows, she might give me the bike.
Before dinner was served the next evening, I noticed that my mother had a very uncommon smile on her face. Perhaps, it was because of my high grades. But leading the top reasons is that His Last Kiss, her most favorite drama series on television ever, ended the way she wanted it to end. She became nonstop on giving out her opinion on the ending of the series, and her sentiments for those who will miss the soap.
I held my horses for the whole course of our eating up until I asked her my most used question yet.
“Mom, can you now buy me the…”
Her face abruptly turned blank.
“Aren’t you happy that my grades are pretty much higher than before? Ha, Mom?”
“Your father didn’t leave us well-off,” she said stressing the adjective. “If only I can afford it, I would buy you that bike.”
She breathed deeply and repeated her beloved statement. “Your father didn’t leave us well-off.”
I then saw on her face the determination to retell me how my father left the two of us six years ago because he no longer loves my mother, but she opted not to. It pained me to see that aura on her eyes. Ruining her night just because of my stupid desire to own a bike made me feel so guilty deep inside.
I wasn’t able to pass by the big store the next morning. The street was temporarily closed because of what seemed like an accident involving two motorcycles. I didn’t care much about the details. My mindset at that time being was to quickly take the other route I know in order for me to go to school.
After the school hours, the street was no longer blocked by policemen, TV reporters and lookers-on. I hurriedly made my way to the big store and, as usual, stood in front of the large glass and looked at the–
The one I wanted to own. The one with the red-and-black combination of handlebars. The one with the unimaginable arrangement of pedals and gears I wanted to propel. The one with the two wheels fixed to a smooth grey frame.
I barely believed on what I was looking at. A different bicycle appeared to have replaced the one I would like to be in possession of.
I immediately went inside the big store and approached the bike. I looked at it closely and realized that it was really replaced. I was about to look for a personnel when a voice of a young lady called my attention.
“Ughmmm… The one… here. The one which…” I was totally wordless. Good enough she understood what I was pointing out.
“You mean the original bike placed here?”
With that, I had gained strength to accumulate words from my bunker. “Yes. Yes. Please tell me it wasn’t sold out yet. Do tell me.”
“O. I’m sorry, kiddo. A tall man bought that bike an hour ago.”
I could tell by her looks that she was about to offer the other bicycles, but then I left the store at once, making the chimes hanged on the door produce a loud sound.
I ran home crying. As I entered our house, a pair of looks directed on me. The one is my mother’s. The other one is–who the hell is he? He was smiling as if he were in heaven!
Before I could ask who that person is, he stood up and embraced me. I hardly breathed. The back of my mind was driving me to push the big guy away but the sadness in his crying melted my heart. He backed off when my mother drew near and stretched her hands onto me.
“He is your father.”
I became unsure on how to react on her remark. I just fixed myself on where I was situated like a model posing for a painter, waiting for the last brushstroke.
The man looked at me meticulously. He was smiling. I recognized that his smile was just like mine. I smiled in return and so did my mother. I think, with that, she understood that I had no ill feeling toward my father. Bitterness was in fact not on my vocabulary. The two of them hugged me as if there is no more tomorrow.
“Can you allow me to fix this family,” my father asked.
I nodded. And that started the most wonderful night I ever had.
“O, by the way.”
He pointed at the other side of the living room and there mounted the only bicycle I considered to own.
Story written by Jonell Estillore
September 17, 2007 ~ Pasig City, Philippines