I hadn’t fallen in love with motorcycles by then. Yes, I liked to look at them, kind of in a way I liked to look at pretty girls, or boys for that matter, because they were soothing to the eyes and made your heart go thump. But the thump of a 350 cc bullet, or the sound of a simple plain 150 cc Yamaha wasn’t something that I could recognize. I hadn’t been deeply in love with any machine ever, not in a way that would keep me in love even if the machine was tattered, broken and couldn’t run anymore without a modification work that would bury a whole so deep in your pocket that you could fit a whole new Yamaha or Royal Enfield in it. I didn’t know anything then.
It was a beautiful summer day in Delhi. Beautiful is purely subjective; I hope you get that, because frankly speaking, there is no universe in this world where summer in Delhi can be beautiful. It was, however, beautiful. I had just had had lunch, and I was sitting outside of my hostel, straight out of the shower, soaking up a little sun before it gave me instant skin cancer when I saw it. A brand new Yamaha R15, blue and black, sitting there, standing by itself in the shadow of the amaltaas tree, like a peacock standing atop a mountain top in all its knowledge of how amazing and beautiful it is. Many of my friends (one in particular, specially because I consider him the encyclopedia when it comes to motorcycles) later laughed at how much I could talk about a bike which was basically known for being the signature of douchebags who were probably overcompensating for a small wiener or were simply, douchebags. In their words, it wasn’t the ideal bike to fall in love with, I should have gone for the classier and lately, very in, bullet or a Harley, or the old is gold Yezdee or even a Yamaha RX100. But the more everyone trashed the R15, the more protective I was about it. And to this that, I am proud of it, because the R15 and the people that came with it, changed my life.
I was an above average student always. Probably, even like a little local celebrity back where I come from. I could sing tolerably well, I think I could dance too, and the no-stage-fright clause in the contract that I signed with the chap above had me roaring in college. Maybe everything had gone to my head. I was selfish (am a little still, but that goes with the Aries contract), prouder than I had rights to be, and ruthless when it came to relationships. It didn’t take me more than a day to get over something, a book, a brawl or even a broken heart (mine or someone else’s that I had broken). But it all changed with that beautiful R15 I had name Viktoria came into my life. It was like the friend I always wanted- one that stayed by me without a complaint, no matter how I treated it, one that was there in rain or sun, one that was perfect. Of course, now I see how screwed my version of perfect, or even a friend really was. I expected total obedience, total loyalty, total surrender, when as a matter of fact; I was never ready to do that in any of my relationships- romantic or otherwise. The R15 made me realize how much I lacked as a person, as a friend.
My association with the bike lasted for about six months. A time when I went crazy with it. I would roam around the city at night with friends, like minded, breaking speed barriers that lasted in my minds, engaging in daredevilry that makes my skin crawl and the hair at the back of my neck stand at the very thought, taking risks and ‘living the life’ as I used to call it back then. I didn’t realize how much danger I was putting myself in, how much unfair I was being to friends who had been there before the R 15 came into my life, how much unfair I was being to my parents when I banged the telephone down every time they asked me what I was doing with my life, screaming ‘you don’t understand’. I had gone, as my old roommate and sister used to say, full ‘udan-chandi’. I was badass, and not in a very good badass-with-a-golden-heart-way.
It was only when the R15 was gone, taken away from me, that I took a step back to realize what a mess I had become.
Now when I look back, there wasn’t a worse time in my life. But I am glad it happened. Because even though I had gone bad; I met so many people who accepted me the way I am, who tried their best to be gentle and kind even when I was rude and abysmal, I found music in a group of friends who sang not because they knew they were insanely good at it, but because it made them happy, I found people who believed that biking is not about revving your engine so much that it rips peoples eardrums, but its about loving the wind in your hair and riding like it’s the clouds that you are riding on. It was the time when I realized what having friends meant, and more importantly, what being a friend meant- it meant that though you get to throw your tantrums once in a while, you should be ready to take some too. It was the time when I understood you only have one set of parents, and for them you mean the world, and no matter how rotten you become, they will still take you in. And finally, I learnt that you become badass not because of the bike you are riding, but despite the bike you are riding.