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 remembered 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 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 fail to know himself as a 40-year-old in those years? This and many more questions kept popping up every now and then.
At times I took pride that I am special and maybe 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 not knowing 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 a 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 the morning. My dependence, selfless, innocent approach towards my roommates.
I reheard sounds of 'Palli' as I was called by all in Chandigarh then. I recalled my weeping while parting with my father to stay in a 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 dry cleaning services if I could not wash my clothes.
I took a deep breath while recalling the weeping on a landline phone while talking to my parents. There used to be a long queue 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 am survived by a loving spouse and two angels as daughters. I am back in Chandigarh with a purpose maybe. I am here to relive and realize. I am back maybe to help my fellow riders to relate and cherish the great time we had together.
Yes, I am nostalgic and continue to be so...