The Red Bicycle
The Red Bicycle6 mins 438 6 mins 438
Meena rang the doorbell and stood silently. Kajal tried to read the name on the nameplate stuck beside the door. It read Mr. and Mrs. A. Sharma. Someone from inside said “Come in, the door is open” Kajal entered the house behind her mother. Her ma Meena whispered “Don’t roam around in the house. Just be by my side and do as I say. If they like your way of working they may appoint you as their maid” She just nodded.
Her ma works as a maidservant from the time she has started to understand the world and realized that her father had left the world in a truck accident. He used to be a rickshaw puller. He was a pleasant man and due to his good behavior he used to get a lot of passengers. At that time he earned enough to feed his family of four members. But the good times flew away at a fast pace and bad time took its place. One morning her father left with his rickshaw never to return again. That put an end to their happy living and they started suffering the torments of life.
The moment Meena and Kajal entered the house they heard a lady’s voice “Is it you Meena?”
“Yes Madam, it’s me”
“You are a bit late today. Do fast, I’ll leave for office”
“And who is this with you?” Madam had come out of her room to monitor Meena’s work. Meena said “She is my eldest daughter Kajal. I’ve brought her with me to make her learn the household chores”
“Oh, but she seems much young. What is her age?”
“Fifteen” Kajal just looked her ma’s face and remained silent. She wondered what would be her exact age because a few days ago she heard her ma conversing with a female neighbour when she had said Kajal’s age is just twelve. Madam said “Ok take her as your help but tell her I don’t like touching any of the things lying in the shelves or in our bedrooms. Meena confirmed that Kajal won’t do anything like that. The lady gave a sharp look at her and then moved away inside a room.
After finishing work there they moved to the next house a little far away from this house. Meena works in four houses and she introduced Kajal with each of them. Kajal did not speak much in most of the homes because she felt quite scared on the first day. But she liked the last house very much. It had a big lawn before it unlike other homes and the most interesting thing was a red bicycle stood along with the bike and a car. Who rode it, she wondered. She discovered it while helping her mother wash the car drive path. She stared at the cycle for a few moments.
This cycle looked exactly like the bicycle Sonu rides every day to school. Sonu used to be her classmate when she too studied in the government school. She had sometimes lent his cycle to learn cycling. Her father had promised her to buy a second-hand bicycle from Govind cycle shop when she would go to the senior section but that day never came in her life. Her younger sister and brother didn’t get the chance to enter any school premise. Kajal feels sad for them. She has a wish that if they both earn enough then she will request her mother to send her sister and brother to the school. And if her wish fulfills she will save money to buy a red bicycle. They will ride it by turns.
After they finished they went inside again. The Mistress of this house, Mrs. Batra gave Meena her lunch. After work every day she carries the food back home. There they all share the food along with the food cooked by Meena early morning before leaving for work.
Next day the lady smiled when they came in the house again. Kajal felt she is very kind-hearted. She helped her mother do all the chores fast and then the time came for their return to home. Mrs. Batra asked them to come in to have their food. When they entered she handed over two plates of meals. Meena was surprised. She asked, “Madam why did you offer two plates of meal today?”
She answered “Because your daughter too worked in our house. Yesterday there was less food and so I couldn’t offer her any but that made me very sad. Today I have cooked food for her too”
Kajal was very delighted to find her mistress’ kindness. Madam said “But Meena I wish to ask you something today. Why are you forcing your daughter to take up household jobs at so young age?”
Meena revealed everything to her. After listening to everything Mrs. Batra said “Ok I appoint her in my house as a baby sitter. My daughter-in-law works in a corporate house and don’t have time to look after her youngest baby of just three months. The other two goes to school. Kajal will stay here the whole day and help me in taking care of the baby. She will get payment for it and food too. You will come as you do always”
Meena was very glad at this. Kajal too agreed to work in this house. From the next day, she joined her work. She didn’t have a problem in handling the baby as she had the experience of handling her younger siblings too. She used to pram the baby in the afternoons in the car drive area and used to sing him songs she made herself. One of them was:
My brother is sweet and lovely
I love him very very much
When he will go to school
HE will ride a red bicycle, a red bicycle fast.
She even played with the other two children when they returned from school. One day Mrs. Leela Batra, mother to that child was entering the home after job when she heard Kajal’s song. She called her near after getting fresh. Kajal was in fear. She couldn’t understand why the other madam of the house is calling her today. Did she any wrong, she thought while advancing towards her.
Mrs. Leela said “You sing very sweet. Did you ever go to school?”
“Yes, mam. I read up to class five”
“Oh, that’s good. Will you like to study more if I give you books of my children?”
Kajal’s face brightened up. She never thought she will ever be able to study again. But at the same time, she thought how will she leave her work and read books. She said “But mam when will I study? I have to look after my brother”
“You will study after I return from work and don’t you worry. You can take that red bicycle to ride back home”
Kajal’s eyes twinkled in joy. She just could say “Thank you mam” She could imagine her brother and sister riding happily on the red bicycle by turns on the football ground near her home.