The stolen bicycle
On the morning of Thursday 12th I thought that my bicycle had been stolen because it was missing from the bicycle parking lot on the ground floor of our building. The last time I saw it was on the evening of Tuesday 10th when I parked it there. On Wednesday 11th I went by train to the city of Tokorozawa and spent the day with my friend, Colin Wellington. So I did not see it, did not look for it, did not need it, did not ride it - until the morning of Thursday 12th. Then I went out in the morning to get some breakfast food. I came back and asked my wife,
“Where’s my bicycle?”
“I don’t know.”
“It’s gone. It’s not here.”
“I don’t know.”
“Someone stole it! I can’t believe it!”
“I’m not shouting!!!! I’m just saying!”
And I could hardly believe it, too, to think that some malicious, thieving person walked into our building’s bicycle parking lot with impunity and out of all the bikes there picked out mine and cut the chain lock on it and then blithely walked away - or, rather, rode away. I was really put off - more put off than angry. I surprised myself how absent of anger I felt. I was surprised how much fatalistic resignation I felt to it since there was nothing I uld do.
I was quick to feel deprived, as well. It’s a symptom of just how dependent I’ve become to the familiarity of easy bicycle access in my everyday life. So many in Japan rely on their bicycles every day that the sudden lack of it ranks as a significant matter - greater than the loss of bicycle to the average Canadian adult, but not so serious as the loss of use of an automobile. Somewhere in between, like - say - the sudden loss of air conditioning in the humid urban Canadian summer.
But it wasn’t stolen. Later that night I learned that on Wednesday 11th, when I was away for the day, my daughter had taken the bike to her grandmother’s condominium and left it there. When I asked about it her rebuttal was that it is her bike, after all, which is true. The orange bike that I use is actually hers. But she has not ridden it since she was in Grade 6. I began using it after my old black bicycle fell into decrepitude and had to be trashed, but then was not replaced. I don’t know why she used the bike after ignoring it for five years. I asked her,
“Emma, why did you use the bike?”
“Ah, choto, tsukata.” Meaning, “I’m just using it.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“That’s an answer.”