The morning chill in air was blowing straight on my face. The grass smelled fresh with dew drops on them. The roads were as smooth and flat as they were 23 years back.
I had just begun my cycle ride on the 4 km circuit we use to follow as Chandigarh cycling team. I was alone today and was riding quite comfortably at 29-30km/hr. My lungs were inhaling air that was fresh as it was before. I could feel the difference compared to air I inhaled during my workouts in Delhi.
I was lost in my thoughts – recalling, recollecting, analysing and talking to myself about those years when I was just 17 years old.
I recalled the stretch on the circuit where I was overtaken during a competition ride. I recalled how a fellow rider was upset when I rode faster than him. I felt that I could not afford a decent bike those years.
I critiqued about my inability to excel and do better in cycling. I wished if my coach, Mr Pyara Singh knew that I had performance anxiety. If I can realize this today as a 40 year old, why did he failed to know himself as a 40-year old in those years? This and many more questions kept popping out every now and then.
At times I took pride that I am special and may be the only one amongst my fellow riders to be still riding. At other times, I felt sad that actually I had lived 23 years with memories of those years fading fast. I was feeling sad that I had grown old. I regretted to not know then that every moment in life mattered. Had I known, I would have done a still better job in ‘living’.
By the time I finished 30 km ride for the day, I had relived those years of my life in a single ride. Those years when my cousin had to be coaxed to be ready for the training regime in morning. My dependence, selfless, innocent approach towards my room mates.
I reheard sounds of ‘Palli’ as I was called by all in Chandigarh then. I recalled my weeping while parting my father to stay in hostel for my education. It was a transition so difficult that my father did not hesitate to get my hair cut as a Sikh. I was literally ordered to use drycleaning services if I could not wash my clothes.
I took a deep breath while recalling the weeping on a landline phone while talking to parents. There use to be a long que after 10 pm at all the calling booths when the calling rates were one-fourth the daytime calling charges. It was a luxury to own a landline phone connection in those years in India.
I have moved on and survived by a loving spouse and two angels as daughters. I am back in Chandigarh with a purpose may be. I am here to relive and realize. I am back may be to help my fellow riders to relate and cherish the great time we had together.
Yes, I am nostalgic and continue to be so..