Of Mad Dogs and Yamaha 50s

Owais Mughal

Many years ago, before I became a proud owner of Yamaha 100, I used to have a Yamaha 50. It was red in color and many a times the person riding on it also used to get shades of red. These red shades sometimes came in anger and sometimes as blushes. This motorcycle made sure that its rider always remained humble.

During my high school years, poetry of Allama Iqbal became part of our compulsory Urdu course. Almost in every Urdu class our teacher used to make us think about Allama Iqbal’s philosophy of ‘khudi’ (ego). I tried my level best to understand it but whenever I sat on my Yamaha 50, my belief in ‘khudi’ always went lower than before. This motorcycle was more a like a case of ‘be-khudi’ (no self control).

Maximum rated speed of this motorcycle was 60 kmph. This must have been the theoretical limit set by its Japanese creators, (Mr. Yamaha??) because on the road it never went above 15 kmph.

So Once Upon a Time….

I was riding my Yamaha 50 on a narrow street. To give room to an oncoming vehicle I swerved to the side and went past closely to some wild bushes. What I didn’t know at that time was those wild bushes were home to a mad dog which was not very fond of visitors; especially those who came on motorcycles. On seeing my motorcycle near his front door, this mad dog suddenly came out of the bushes. He started showing me all his canines and then made bubbles out of his saliva. pphhrrr pphhhrrr.

At this point I was hoping the dog should start barking so that from his barking tone I could judge his mood. I also knew that ‘barking dogs seldom bite’ but Patras Bukhari’s famous lines also came to mind that

You never know when a seldom biting dog may stop barking and start biting ….

so I guess I was rightly suspicious of his motives.

The dog’s silent phrrrrr phrrrr bubble making exercise was extracting living daylights out of me. I turned the accelerator to the full while not taking my eyes off the dog.

Nearby, the dog also started stamping his back feet on the ground as if getting ready to take off. My motorcycle gained full speed which to my horror came out to be exactly 15 kmph. For a second, it seemed to me that the dog smiled at me and then I remember vividly that he ran after me.

I’ve heard that mad dogs go for the human legs first therefore I immediately lifted my legs. I made them horizontal in the air, so they were at the same height as my motorcycle’s fuel tank. On the other hand the dog gained speed and reached up to just 3 feet behind my motorcycle.

Since I don’t have photos from this incident, I tried to sketch it out for you. I have no talents in drawing but I hope my sketches may convey the situation well.

The mad dog came witihn 3 feet of where my legs start

phir kia hoa? …(What Happened Next?)

hona kia tha..He must’ve been an old dog because somehow his maximum speed also came out to be 15 kmph. My motorcycle and this dog were now in a state of dynamic equilibrium. We were both running but the distance between us remained constant.

The traffic on both sides of the street screeched to a halt as everyone started watching this interesting tussle between dog and machine. The human (i.e. me) was out of this equation as my fate was totally dependent on the machine-animal variables. After chasing me for 15 or 20 feet, the dog finally gave up and I was able to breath again. The traffic that had halted to see this interesting duel also started to move again. All of this happened in just few seconds but for the life of me, I cannot forget the details up to milliseconds level and hence I am able to stretch those few seconds to so many lines of text here.

I was a teenager when I started riding this motorcycle. I was full of energy, dreams and ready to take on the whole world. You cannot imagine how handicapped I used to feel while riding this bike. There was no mode of conveyance available to mankind, to which I didn’t lose in speed.

For example, filled with youthful agression, I would sometimes decide to overtake a passenger bus. I would increase the accelerator and in 30 seconds or so I would emerge from the back of the bus and reach its side. At this stage my motorcycle would reach its maximum speed. Both bus and I would be running in parallel now. Some passengers, who would be looking at me with interest, would openly start smiling by now. This would further deplete my trust in Allama Iqbal’s philosophy of ‘khudi’ and increase in that of supurdagi (submission).

Trying to overtake a bus was always a humbling experience.

This motorcycle remained in my custody until 1990 when I bought a Yamaha 100 and was able to conquer the whole world with it. Yamaha 50 was sold for just under a thousand rupees. If it is still alive and running then by now it must’ve grown old to Yamaha 20 or Yamaha 10. I wish all the best to its current owner, whoever he might be.

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