It had been 35 years since I had got off my bicycle for one last time, never to get back on it ever again. I was 13 year old teen who had been forced to stop riding the bicycle for the crime of being a girl. Being mocked by my grandmother, eve teased by boys and looked down upon by the society, I did not have enough power within me to fight those forces and do what I loved.
Being born with a club foot or love for books never stopped me from enjoying outdoor sports like Throwball, koko, running or cycling. Unfortunately, my family could neither understand nor support my sporting ventures, especially because I ended up with bruises so often. My mom feared that I would someday kill myself playing around. I never had a bicycle of my own, but would collect money to rent one and ride around, until I finally gave in to pressure and stopped.
Life moved on… I got married, had two children and settled down to pleading the rickshawallas to take me to a desired destination. One fine day I thought of getting on a two wheeler to travel on the roads of Bangalore (a city known for its traffic jams and potholes). I had almost no experience of riding a scooter ever in my life and I was 47. Was it possible to learn to drive on the roads in a city like Bangalore at my age?
The doubt kept me off the Honda Dio for nearly a month. One fine down I gulped down my fear on got on the vehicle. It was a disaster that brought me few more bruises. I did not give up though; I tried again and again until I could master the scooter.
More than the fear of riding, I had to overcome my fear of driving in the traffic. My heart would stop beating every time I saw a vehicle (even hand-cart) moving towards me. I was terrified of driving in the traffic even though I could ride the vehicle well on empty roads. I decided to get my license before embarking on the roads, but that was not easy to come. My club foot stood in my way of getting license. After a lot of running around, finally I got my first ever driving license at the age of 48.
Once I secured the license, I started taking the vehicle on Bannerghatta road early in the morning. The road always had enough traffic trickling to scare me. Slowly I practiced being relaxed and taking deep breaths whenever I felt a panic coming over me. Initially I started venturing out at 6 a.m. when the roads were virtually empty, but gradually added hours until I could go out at the rush hour of 8.45 a.m. I ran the risk of panicking in the middle of traffic to meet with an accident, but the fear did not stop me from pursuing my goal.
Was that the end of my fear? No! I could now ride comfortably on the route I was familiar with but every new route scared me. Persistence and reluctance by the autowallas to take me to my destination finally motivated me enough to take a deep breath and start travelling around Bangalore on my two- wheeler. Today, I have a sense of freedom which I have never felt before. It was as though I have developed wings to fly. It is true that if there is a will there will be a way (even if it is filled with potholes). I am licensed to thrill……..yay!