January 13, 2010

The Motorcycle Diaries: Of Experience

My mind doesn't rest long on that because suddenly… WHAM… I am skidding across the road. The visor of my helmet goes by my sight. To lessen the impact, I turn on my back… skidding further on the tarmac. I stop. I get on my knees… my right shoulder hurts. I look around. Nobody is in sight. No vehicles in sight. Am I looking around for help or am I looking around to avoid embarrassment? I cannot think. My left index and middle fingers seem to be bent at an odd angle. Gritting my teeth I push them back, one by one. I can feel a searing pain at the back of my right hand. There is a long tear on the glove… and I can see red flesh. Using my teeth I pull off the glove. The skin is torn at three places and my knuckles are bruised. I am still sitting in the middle of the road. I am in a trance.

My bike is inside the drain… on its side. I limp across and try to right it. I cannot right it, let alone take it out of the drain. Dilemma… what to do? Summing up energy that I didn't know I push it. Slowly seconds turn to minutes I am able to right it. Then I press the starter button expecting the engine to come to life… but it just coughs twice and goes silent. I curse to myself. Now what?  I dust my jacket and jeans. Ok… last try. This time the engine roars to life and I prod the machine back on the tarmac. Mud flying and smoke bellowing… we are on the road. I park beside the road and assess the damage. The mirrors are twisted the wrong way… can be twisted back. The right knee-guard is bent at an odd angle as it was scraped along the tarmac… cannot be twisted back. No major damage… and the engine are still running. Now what? Should I try to continue my journey?

I make doma and chew it. I have to cool my nerves. The sun which had been warm to this moment doesn't seem as warm now. I collect the visor and fix it back to the helmet… it is just unhinged.

I get on the bike and put in into gear. My left hand hurts more. As I try to take off the glove, it seems tighter. I pull it with my teeth. Both the guilty fingers are swollen and I cannot pull the clutch. NOW WHAT?? I check my mobile phone. No network.

What the heck!! I grip the clutch with the entire fingers and it works… though the pain is almost unbearable. Now I forget about the scenery. I tell myself… concentrate on the road. Forget the pain. Forget the pain. Slowly I ride further on… and this time I look at the speedometer frequently… I keep the speed at 40. Soon I reach Khaling… and as I reach I can see the people staring at me. Are they appreciating my ride or are they staring at the skid marks on the bike? Suddenly I am conscious of my appearance. I am thinking of having tea there but I let it pass. I move on…

As I reach Yonphula I can hear my mobile phone ring. I park and check. It is Serious… I call back and tell him that I am coming. Soon I reach Kanglung. As soon as I enter the rented flat I inform my five room-mates that I have good news and bad news. I tell them of my nasty fall.

Then as we are talking about my experience I realize the graveness of it. What if I had gone off the cliff? What if… ?

Lesson learned… Why do we fall? So that we stand up taller with the experience it gives us…