REPUBLIC OF TURKEY MINISTRY OF CULTURE AND TOURISM

WHITE BICYCLE - Hüseyin YURTTAŞ

WHITE BICYCLE

- Daddy, please buy me a bicycle.

- Okay son, I will.

- Oh, really, will you? Then why you stay daddy?

- I will buy it, but first pass your class, and then…

- Promise daddy?

- Sure! What do you think? All you need is to pass your class. All right?

- All right daddy!

I had prayed my father formerly many times. He had always rejected my request. He was against it saying, "you may fall down, we don't have any money, we'll buy next year, etc." When I heard the words above from him I walked on air from happiness. I would do anything but pass my class without any make-ups. It was nearly the end of the term. And my grades were not so bad. But still I devoted myself wholeheartedly to working. I lessened playing outwards. I didn't turn on my computer. I didn't even watch anything other than one or two programs that interested me the most.

This change in my behaviors pleased both my parents. I understood it from their looks and talks with each other in whispers. My teacher as well noticed the change in me. But I didn't say anything about the bicycle to her.

It was springtime. Everywhere was green. Those nice, sunny days have begun long since. I was anxiously counting the days for the end of the term. At the same time I was wandering in the shops in the neighborhood and looking at the bicycles. Almost all of the bicycles seemed pretty to me. But there was one that I liked the most. It was a white bicycle. We were to go and buy this white bicycle when I get my report card. Even thinking about it was exciting me so much. But there was a very important problem; I didn't know how to ride bicycle! In fact, wasn't it the reason for my father's opposition formerly? Didn't he say all the time, "I wouldn't mind the bicycle but feel pity for you; you may fall down, and hurt yourself?"

Then, now it was the time to learn riding bicycle, I thought on it all the time when studying or resting. I was to start it at once.

It was Saturday. I went to the park in the afternoon. Almost all of my friends were there. And some of them owned bicycles. They were riding their bicycles on the cobblestoned paths of the park. And Okan was one of them. He was really riding well. He could do any figures with the bicycle. When he noticed me watching him, he let me sit at the back. We toured the park twice. Meanwhile I said Okan:

- Did you know? They will buy me a bicycle as well. But I don't know riding. Would you teach me?

- Sure, I would. But it is so crowded here. And these stones would hurt your knees if you fall down. Let's go over there, to that dirt road.

Then he rode the bicycle there at once. In a short time we were at the dirt road at the end of our quarter.

It was my first time on the saddle of a bicycle and holding the handlebars. I was so excited. Both my hands and foot were trembling. Okan was holding at the back.

- Come on; push the pedals.

I pushed my feet on the pedal forward and lifted my other feet and put it on the other pedal. The bicycle moved forward. But it was only a few steps way that I lost my balance and fell down. Okan didn't have power enough to hold me.

We repeated these trials a few times. Indeed, I was over excited. I thought I would always fall down and never learn riding. My hopes were frustrated as I continued falling down again and again in our training that lasted almost one hour. Moreover, I was cautious not to damage Okan's bicycle. I couldn't go on and stopped.

- "Okan," I said, "thank you so much. You see; I can't do it. Besides we'll hit and damage your bicycle in vain."

- "Never mind," said Okan, "it's not important. Did you know? My father is not like other fathers. He likes my sharing all my belongings and toys with my friends. He is such an unfamiliar man."

- "You are so as well," I said. "But what we do is wrong. The best thing to do is making practice when my bicycle is bought. You would help me then."

- "As you like it," said Okan.

We gave up training and returned to the park. I was annoyed with myself when I saw children, even those smaller than me, were riding bicycles easily.

I worried on this subject till the day my school was closed down. Sometimes my hopes were frustrated completely. At those moments I even changed my mind about buying a bicycle. But when I dreamed myself riding the bicycle speedily and my shirt got billowed in the wind like those other children, I perceived I would never give up buying it. I could learn it as all do. Only way was to try my hardest and work.

Finally, it was the last day of school. I was bursting with excitement. We, all my classmates, made a trip to the hill nearby the school. We entertained, sang songs, played games, and ran around, jumped up and down.

When we returned to school, our teacher after a short farewell speech gave our report cards. When it was my turn to get my report card I could virtually hear my heart beating in my ears. I looked at that dotted place at once I got my report card. With handwriting it was written: "PASSED" To tell the truth, I was so joyful that I shrieked and bounded hither and thither.

We congratulated each other. After saying farewell and wishing 'a good holiday' to each other and to our teacher, we went to our houses. The sorrow for separation and happiness of report cards were side by side.

That evening I welcomed my father at the door. I gave him the news in jest, as I was prepared before:

- Dad, I'm sorry.

- Nothing wrong, I hope! You didn't fail, did you? Why are you sorry?

- I caused you a heavy loss…

- Really! What kind of a loss is this? You didn't break any glass when playing ball, did you?

- No, daddy, this is really a heavy loss.

- I'm at my wits' end sonny. I am tired. Say what it is. Whatever it is we will look a way to solve it.

- I caused you a loss worth a bicycle…

- I see. You imp, you mean you passed your class… Why don't you say it directly…I got confused without grounds.

My father embraced me. He kissed and congratulated me.

- "Then tomorrow morning we shall go and buy a bicycle to you."

- "But I want that white bicycle."

- "Okay, then we buy it."

I can't tell how I passed that night. I even played kriegspiel in the computer so as to occupy myself and pass the time; but time didn't pass quickly. Though I like this game, indeed all computer games.

The next morning we went to the bicycle shop with my father. I showed him the white bicycle.

- "Here", I said, "I want it."

My father and the shopkeeper laughed at me. Apparently my father has come and reserved it one day ago.

The shopkeeper congratulated and gave me the bicycle.

- "Well done," he said, "you see, you deserved it, and now you got it. Enjoy it!"

I thanked him. We got the bicycle and left the shop. I wasn't riding on but pushing it right beside me, and looking at it with admiration and adoration. The clanking sound of its chain in clearance was so pleasant. I could see my face in its mirror. I was intermittently ringing its pealing bell. There were some people looking at us. I felt a secret happiness because of their looks.

We directly went to that dirt road with my father. There were trees on both sides of the road, and there were some bushes and blackberries. This solitary place was indeed a good training place for me.

We at once started practicing. My father was holding the saddle and running right behind to prevent me fall down. At that moment Okan came as well.

- "May it be easy," he said. "Enjoy it!"

My father was tired of running behind me and was in a sweat: at that point Okan helped me. Then both of them ran right behind me. They warned me:

- "Look forward all the time. Don't afraid. Turn the tire to the side where you are as though falling."

I was acting as they say it. However, when I paid attention to my feet to push the pedals, I couldn't drive straightly, and continuously falling down.

During this practice, for a moment I felt that I was driving the bicycle. My father was not holding me. I was driving by myself. But was I really driving the bicycle without anyone's help? Wasn't there anyone holding me. I was so anxious that I wanted to look back. Thus I lost the control. The bicycle suddenly went in other direction into the blackberries at the side of the road. In a flutter of panic I couldn't succeed in applying the brakes. I suddenly found myself in the blackberries. My father and Okan came my side in a hurry. They slowly and softly took me out of the thorns of the blackberries with great care. But still I had scratches on my hands, face and head. My hands and face were covered with blood.

After the first moments of bewilderment we roared with laughter. My pains were not trivial, but I didn't cried, on the contrary I laughed loudly. My father said:

- "Well, it is all right. Now there is nothing to afraid of. Because it was the worst thing to occur when learning how to ride a bicycle, and it occurred!… I suppose you wouldn't fall worse."

When I was resting, Okan went with his bicycle and brought cotton and plaster. We cleaned the wounds on my face and hands where blackberry thorns scratched and pricked and then covered with plasters. I looked at my face in the mirror of the bicycle. At that moment it occurred to me that my mother would get angry with my father and me. Really, my face covered with the plasters was very funny.

No, it wouldn't dismay me! We again started working. Now, each time I could ride a longer distance without anyone's help. I got into a happy mood. I could even speed up without fear.

However, the worst occurred with my encounter with that simit seller kid why for walking in that dirt road. The kid who understood that I was a novice rider stopped at the midst of the road with his tray on his head and opened his arms with a grin on his face. He was supposedly joking. I drove first to the right and then to the left; then I didn't find out but bumped him such that I wish you saw us! I fell to one side; he fell to the other, and the tray and simits to the other side. The simits were scattered on the ground, on the grass at the side of the road.

My father and Okan at a run came near us. The simit seller kid and I stood up. We tidied up our clothes. We didn't tell him off. Because he was aware of the cost of his joke. He was gathering his simits quietly. When I lifted up my bicycle and examined, I saw there were no damages; I became happy.

And that was my last fall. Since then with every day passed I became more skilled in riding bicycle.

Now? Hoohah, don't stay in my wind, you would catch cold… Now I can do acrobatics like those other children; but I always conform to the traffic rules. I protect myself and anyone around.

My white bicycle is unique! I love it so much!

Hüseyin YURTTAŞ