A Tale of Two Wheels
I have not returned home in many years. My father has just died. On his death bed, he asked Jidenna and me to return home for his burial accompanied by our wives and children. When we get into town, it is late. So, we head for the hotel and decide to continue the journey to our childhood home in the morning.
As children, we did not have bikes. Only the adults and the rich kids did. Bikes were considered a luxury—my family could not afford many luxuries in those days. My father bought his first bike when I was 6.
For my brother and I, getting to own a bike was the best thing about adulthood. Every morning, we watched with pride as my father rode his bike out of the house. When he returned in the evenings, we would brawl while deciding who parked the bike in the shed he built behind the house.
Our journey to my father’s house begins at 8:12 the following morning. It is a two-hour journey. My saloon car leads the way, while Jidenna follows in his SUV. It is the first time my children have visited our ancestral home, so we drive slowly and stop every few miles to show them the major landmarks.
When we reach our destination, Jidenna acts as a tour guide for our wives and older children. I walk around the house and relive memories from my childhood. The house has hardly changed in the many years that I’ve been away. Everything is the same, apart from the new electronics I’d sent over the years.
After exploring my old bedroom, I head to the kitchen and walk through the back door. Staring me in the face is my father’s bicycle shed.
In the shed is my father’s bike. The same blue bike with the black accents he bought 30 years ago. Upon inspection, I notice how well he maintained it. He must have used it till his very last day. I decide to take it for a ride.
When I reach the front of the house, I meet Jidenna showing the attentive tourists my mother’s grave. He smiles, and I know that the bicycle brings back memories. He points to a spot just in front of the door, where I had chipped a tooth while we fought over the bicycle, and I laugh.
I ride the bike out of the compound, and head for the many places I wish to see. As I ride past my old school, the eight years that I spent within those walls flash through my mind. I pick up speed and head for the stall my mother owned. I remember the days when Jidenna sat with me in the garden and helped with my homework.
I pick up speed as I ride to the river on the outskirts of the village. I feel the breeze fill up my loose shirt, and I scream at the top of my voice. I am happy to be home. I feel alive.
When I get back into my father’s house, Jidenna is waiting to take the bike from me. He turns it around and heads out of the house. He is grinning ear to ear.
I head in to take a bath, and as I walk away, I know deep down that just as we did as children, we would fight over that bike.
This story is very touching and makes me think of biking to places during my childhood. I love the smiles and happy memories amidst a sad situation.