When Not to Ride a Bicycle

By Subhravanu Das

Do not ride a bicycle when you are in a dinosaur costume. If you must, then first take the costume off, turn it inside out, and put it back on. That way, the costume’s spikes will have a chance to massage your spine as you zigzag through a bottleneck to get to your son. And the costume’s tail will be coiled peacefully around one of your knees instead of swatting at the cars that come chasing. And when you get arrested at a traffic light that’s stuck on amber and are hauled away from the bicycle, the costume’s teeth will have your face to nibble on and the costume will not go hungry.

Do not ride a bicycle when you are carrying a bunch of tender coconuts. If you must, then first hollow out the coconuts. That way, the coconuts will be light enough for you to juggle as you pedal down a slope. And the coconuts will be loud enough for you to drum out a peppy beat from their bones. And when you crash into the back of your son’s school bus, the coconuts will string together to form the greenest of garlands around your neck.

Do not ride a bicycle when you are fashioning birthday candles out of a wax dollhouse. If you must, then first melt the dollhouse. That way, you’ll be able to swallow the dollhouse as you hurtle unencumbered through a field. And the tiny, red wax-people of the dollhouse will resolidify inside your stomach and grow distant from one other. And when you slide the bicycle into the lake beside your son’s new home, the tiny, red wax-people, unwilling to bury a hatchet or two, will have pushed on to the farthest reaches of your body and will keep you afloat.

Do not gift-wrap a bicycle for your son’s birthday when you do not know his ride of choice. If you must, then first inject barium into the bicycle’s frame. That way, when your son sells off the bicycle behind your back, you’ll push around a pram fitted with an x-ray machine to pick the bicycle out from among thousands in tens of parking lots. And you’ll steal the bicycle using the extra key stowed away in your flask, and you’ll drag behind you the pram-x-ray chained to your waist. And when you make your getaway and find no one in pursuit, you’ll have time to x-ray all the shots at all the bars before draining them into your flask.

Do not dream of riding a bicycle when you are passed out in a hammock after yet another no-show by your son. Dream, instead, of being a wheel that those with bicycles will need. Dream of being a seat that those with bicycles will covet. Dream of sniffing oil and snorting pebbles. Dream of welding bicycles into oblivion and folding their metal into a mammoth, empty trunk that will accompany you to the end. Dream of an involution of sight that will eradicate the need for bicycles.

Subhravanu Das is an Indian writer living in Bhubaneswar. His work has appeared in Gone Lawn, No Contact, Popshot Quarterly, and elsewhere.

Art by Lesley C. Weston (Pen and watercolor)

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