After a relatively normal khatti session, on the way back home, we take a small detour through the recently renovated airport road and bump into my brother’s new found friends: super-bike enthusiasts.
“Go ahead, give it a try.”
There is a gleaming green monster, flaunting its curves, tilting its head invitingly, almost with the sneer of a challenge. It’s a Kawasaki Ninja, all of six hundred and fifty cc. Brand new, yet to be broken in properly. I hesitate. I really need to go home, empty my bowels. I would have loved to give it a go, but not today , not right now. But it’s like a gauntlet… thrown down; there is no backing out now.
“Ok, why not?”
So slippered, beach-shorts-legs swings across and I settle down in the saddle. Instinctively I stroke the tank, a gentle caress, as my eyes take in the dials and I whisper to the bike,
“You are a beauty, listen to me, let’s go for a short spin. Show me what you got”
“Be careful when you release the clutch for the first gear”, my brother cautions me. Its ultra sensitive , I realise, after it has sputtered to a stop. Determined to get it right and be on the fast learning curve, I rev up just a little bit.. maybe a quarter of a millimetre on an arc, an almost imperceptible movement of my wrist, and I see the rpm needle SHOOT up 4000 rpm… I feel an emptiness settling into my already queasy stomach. Ahem…Ohhkahh…
The behemoth starts rolling, I am ultra-cautious. I reach the end of the divider in the 1st gear and take the U -turn; still a little wobbly. I realise that the fellas have stopped watching me and were getting back to their fascinating discussion, “Shalu’s brother is a cautious one (hmmph) “.
I slowly bring the bike to the middle up the road and open up the throttle… the monster responds like it has just been awakened; with a melody serene …a deep throated roar emits from deep within its bowels and I can feel the front wheel ready to take off! My backbone automatically bends as my body crouches down, melding into the aerodynamics of the hulk. I instinctively cycle through the gears and I am burning up the road…
Jules Verne narrated to me once, long time back: “hurtling through space” as he described a fictional team of intrepid travellers attempting to reach the moon. Right in the incredibly brief span of time, I understand exactly what he envisaged, probably experienced. I am part of an event , an event that is happening so fast , and so hard, an event made of rubber and metal and flesh and bone and tarmac. An event, the control over which had quickly, very quickly gone out of my hand and I didn’t even have the time to think of what will/can happen if any one variable in the complex equation that was making the tyres stick to the road and maintain the equilibrium changed: to lead to a secondary equation of time required to recuperate. Sheer speed, Sheer loss of control, sheer adrenaline, sheer fear, sheer fascination…. sheer life.
8 secs …0 to 147 kmph and a group of super bike enthusiasts who have quietened down. My brother, who stares with his jaws open; I had asked him for his Bullet 350 Classic for a long ride the next day morning and he wanted credibility.
I take the far turn and glide back and park the bike exactly where I left it. I stay with it as it purrs down to a calming even reverberation. I shut it off , swing on the parking stand and walk away from it to the approving nods of the guys…
Only I realise that my legs are trembling and I think I just shit myself.