Chalk and Bicycle

I could not help myself being jealous every time I saw my schoolmates having their motorcycles to reach our schools in Karanganyar back in 1999.

With limited pocket money, I could only watch them buying delicious food and drink. They had nice bags and books while I kept on making use old goods.

Things did not turn into better ones after I had told my father how I wanted to have what they had. I begged him to at least raise my pocket money hence I could pay for bus fee. I was too ashamed for sweating after a 30-minutes cycling while others did not.

In response to my complaints, my father instead opened his preaching session on the amount of miles he had to walk through to get to his school.

“I only had a pair of shoes, which were partly broken. So sometimes I had to walk with my bare feet,” he said.

I started to get bored each time I listened to his opening speech. “But things have changed a lot Dad. Students now use motorcycles or take busses not keep on cycling like me,” I said.

He replied,” So, did you want to spend minutes just to wait for the bus. Did you want to smell bad perfumes from many kinds of people? What if the bus was late, wouldn’t you be afraid you would miss your classes?.”

“Cycling would make you healthy. You would be able to estimate the amount of time you would take to be at the school,”.

OK I know. It was useless to argue with my daddy. His speech did not stop there as he continued telling me on his most favorite part on chalk and slate.

“I did not have any books. I used chalk to write on the slate. I had to quickly memorize all lessons before I erased my writings then used the slate for another session,” he said.

Financial constraints forced my father to bury his dreams of enrolling at the university level.

My daddy was too enthusiastic in sharing his experiences that he did not notice how sleepy I was.

In short, I kept on cycling until I was at the second grade of the senior high school. My dad repeated his stories to probably pump up my spirit to study but my selfishness prevented me from grasping his intention.

At 23, I fulfilled one of his dreams that is being graduated from university. Now working as a journalist, I have no chalk but a pen as one of my dearest pals.

And I miss my partly broken old bicycle. I’d love to have it as my vehicle amidst the awful traffic congestion in the city one day.

It took more than ten years for me to completely understand how meaningful the chalk and shoes for him as how much I owe for the pen and bicycle for bringing to where and who I am now.


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