Rainy Night Ride

“Autobiography is sometimes so close to suicide!” – Ibrahim Waheed “Kalaavehi”

Born in an assembly plant in Hamamatsu in 1991, the Suzuki GS125ES was built for reliability. Powered with an air cooled, single-cylinder, overhead-cam, four-stroke, 125 cc power plant, it was classified as a simple run-around city bike. A steel frame with wheels and other add-ons to make sure a human being could ride it safely, it could not be more practical. Who but the most incorrigible romantic would say that the metallic brute had a heart? “Whoa there, beast! Put on your brakes and try to avoid skidding on that thin film of treacherous water just licked onto the overly-slick yellow marker paint by the light midnight drizzle…”

Night Rider wheeled the bike out of the dimly-lit, confining belly of the garage and into the welcoming darkness of a cool midnight. He felt thankful for the light drizzle and smiled. He looked up at the sky and said a silent thank you as the pure water kissed his eyes, his face and his lips. But before he could return each little caress, the little stabs of water trickled down his chin, played down his beard like shining round gems, and plopped onto the uncaring cement blocks that served as pavement. That, perhaps, was his lot too, to finally meet the ground, as lonely as a raindrop in a crowd of more raindrops…. And sometimes, when a tear that had no clear reason to come to life stole its way down his cheek, he did not have to look around furtively and hide it, or wipe it away quickly. The compassionate rain would ask its raindrops to meet every single tear and camouflage it as just one more raindrop.

As the Inoue tires planted their feet on the rain-slicked road they had not met for some time, first the front one and then the rear, like lovers reunited with their beloved, Night Rider nodded his head in understanding acknowledgement of a sudden streak of blue lightning which drew a ragged line of blinding brilliance down the inky blackness of the weeping sky, lighting up the hidden curves of the sinuously seductive, yet heavily pregnant cumulonimbus cloud that would wring out it wet heart tonight. The earth below craved this almost womanly attention from the cloud, it would seem. When the rolling, rumbling drum roll of thunder arrived at his feet, panting and asking for forgiveness for not having kept pace with the light, the Night Rider whispered to it that he loved these rainy, thundery, dark nights, reasons unknown.

With the gentlest push of the little black starter button, Night Rider woke up the engine from its long, lonely slumber. As he allowed the engine to warm up, using the time to adjust his mirrors, to check the brakes and also to carefully make sure that all his lights worked, the bike felt an indefinable emptiness in its bowels. It rocked itself a little and heard the reassuring gurgle of gas in the tank. So it could not be an empty fuel tank. It looked inside the guts of its gearbox and found enough lube in there. And then the bike remembered! On a moonless, star-lit night a few midnights ago, she had felt the warmth of another human being on the rear half of her saddle, keeping her beloved Night Rider warm and happy in ways that only a bike knew best. Without an ounce of jealousy in her F40-series heart, the bike had accepted that initially alien presence. Then she had rejoiced in the happiness she had felt radiating from both her riders and had thanked Suzuki for bringing her to this world. Tonight, that part of her saddle was empty and she felt an emptiness she had never felt before in her life.

Not sensing what the bike was going through, Night Rider gave the bike some gas and she surged forward eagerly in first, then in second and quickly in third, as the revs climbed up to meet the demands of a man who used the empty roads to coolly, safely, but illegally allow the speedo to hit the 60kph mark. Night Rider maintained that speed on the open road till he ran out of straight road. Then, on encountering the first speedbreaker, he settled down into more sedate and sensible speeds and concentrated on the ride, his very observant eyes taking in every little detail of every road, every little lane, and their surroundings. Like a catharsis of the soul, the poisons of a world that had hardly any human compassion for another, the sick, gut-wrenching pathos of a loveless existence, and the sadness of sheer loneliness of the spirit slowly oozed out of his every pore and dissolved away into the night rain. Memories of days filled with passion and compassion, love and understanding, of hearts torn apart into pieces that would never fit together again, poured out of his eyes. And the merciful rain hid every single tear in its blanket of clean, pure water.

Suddenly Night Rider felt his old bike speak to him. It told him of the new emptiness it felt. It shared with him the joy it had experienced a few nights ago. It told him a few home truths he had been refusing to accept, all that way to that point where he had no choice but to understand what had been missing all these years. And then, suddenly, for the first time in where a long time, Night Rider felt the grief drain out of him as the tears slowly subsided and a slow smile drew its hesitant caress across his face that had not seen a genuine smile for a long time. As if it understood, the sky rewarded him with three streaks of blue lightning across the sky, lighting up every single cloud in the sky, some gray, some white, some silver, some gold! The thunder joined in, booming and ringing in a shattering symphony of joy….

Then, the rain stopped. However, instead of clearing up, Night Rider suddenly noticed the beam of his head light blurring. Hoping that water had not seeped into the lamp housing, Nigh Rider slowed down and wiped the front of the lens with a sleeve to clear it. The glass cleared for a while but soon started blurring again. Again, he wiped off the moisture that was slowly forming over the lens. Alarmed, Night Rider stopped the bike and examined the head light carefully. It was wet, yet again. But the rain had stopped some time ago. Puzzled, he shook his head and suddenly heard himself whistling the sweet melody of an old Hindi song, one that went “ek haseen sham ko”… .Patting his bike on the fuel tank, he pushed that little black starter button again.

As Night Rider slowly made his way home, what did not know was this: Even bikes could cry, and the old Suzuki GS125ES was crying tears of joy!

.

___________________________________________________________

dedicated to Silent Fingers!

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Comments

  • Silk Shawl  On October 14, 2010 at 6:10 pm

    Please, please do not commit suicide of the soul. When you wrote this…. you were hurting somewhere in your beautiful and wonderfully spacious heart. I know! Night Rider should not believe in the bike’s optimism. And if the Night Rider is considering giving up the lonely midnight rides, he should think again. Or he could just be hurt, dismally heart breakingly!

    • ldive  On October 16, 2010 at 9:10 pm

      Night Rider has stopped riding. His front wheel lost traction on a rainy night and he sustained very quiet injuries

  • Naseem  On October 24, 2010 at 2:32 pm

    the old GS125s are something special… a reliable faithful companion at all times…

    • ldive  On October 24, 2010 at 11:09 pm

      Agreed!

    • ldive  On October 26, 2010 at 4:03 pm

      Yes! They are an honorable breed!

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