If you’ve ever ridden a motorbike, in winter, through falling rain, you’ll already know what I’m talking about. It’s slippery, soggy and surreal.
Every inch of your skin is wet. It doesn’t start that way of course. It’s the shirt first, then the jeans. It’s a valiant effort by your Levis. Soaking in enough water to save a drought bit village, then, your jeans swells and brims over, the water seeping right into your skin. That accelerator is suddenly tougher to grip, the feedback from the engine long-lost to your numb fingers. The clutch is harder than normal and the leather seat biting you through your jeans. You really can’t see where you are going, helmet visors make it tough, without the visor, the sting of the falling rain in your eyes make it near impossible. At the crux of the battle between jeans and the seeping rain, the moment the last defense of your underpants collapses under the
incessant torrent of rain, when you feel the cold rain reach your warm crevices, that’s the moment you decide it’s futile to seek refuge under a tree. But you are enjoying this somewhere, riding ahead with a stupid smile on your face, the water slapping your face and washing away the grime of the day. A stupid wry smile crosses, imagining sheets of water cascading off a mountain face in a rain forest, that’s when you snuggle into your seat, lean in and twist the accelerator a little bit more.
You are a knot of concentration, gripping the tank with your thighs, zipping, trying hard to keep that rear wheel spinning and not hydro plane into oncoming traffic. Trying to see that road awash with debris, trying to spot that oil spill, trying to skirt that flushed pothole and trying to really stop questioning your love for riding. The rain seeps through your sneakers, your toes smother and wrinkle in a wet sock grave, every gear shift ends with a squish of water oozing from the shoe and then winter reminds you it’s around.The rain is cold, ice-cold, just like the rain you’d want on a sultry summer afternoon, after a game of ball or a ten miler. The cold shudders your chest and as the water trickles down your spine, that’s when the shiver sets in and for some reason you ride on. You laugh out aloud, louder than your chattering teeth when you think of frost-bitten toes of mountaineers and are scared whether you’d be a first case of frostbite on the plains. Then you shrug it off and squint a little to make more of the road.
And then you spot your pot of gold, a lone tea vendor, his wares under a blue tarpaulin, the steam rising around him. Demi god, with warmth to sell. People all around him, jostling for that little space under the cover and stealing a little heat, like moths to a spot of light. You park a little ahead and step off your bike, there’s rush of water onto your legs and shoes, you are dripping like a leaky fountain. Squeeze into that little spot of dry and reach out. The tea vendor smiles at you and extends that cup, it’s a frothy mix and smoking like a sizzler, your hands shiver so bad you need two hands to grip that tiny warm pot of solace and with the first sip of the warm tea, nirvana taps you on your shoulder.The warmth of the glass radiates to your hands and you can feel the tea trickle down your throat, all the way to the pit of your tummy. The hand on your shoulder grips you for a while, as the warmth spreads, the grip loosens and is soon gone. You turn to look but it’s gone, then you know what Roger Waters was talking about when he says those exact words.
“I turned to look but it was gone, The child is grown, the dream is gone”.
Now you know why you rode on while others hid below bridges and trees, there’s no applause after a happy ride, no likes on a wall, no shares of a wet picture. It’s you, the rain, the mist on your face and the bike. Just a little while of detaching, free from the anchored weights that keep your spirits moored to reality. Just that little bit of freedom and a deep breath of the rain scented air. That’s all. Nothing more.
The currency you pay the vendor is wet and the dirt of a thousand hands is washed away, the vendor clips the note to a wire running across his jaunt, he’s making his money and drying it too. Money laundering.
The rain shifts form to a slight drizzle as you wave goodbye to the vendor and clip the straps of your helmet. You throttle your monster, feel the engine spewing her warmth onto your calves and then you wish, the next few kilometers home should have been a hundred.