Okeke was an old man. It was difficult to tell his age. Most of his age mates were dead and buried. But he kept going strong. He used to be tall once, not now. Age had shrunken him and he was simply a wiry old man with a game leg which he had got when he last had a major fall off his constant companion, his old Rudge bicycle which many fellow villagers believed was as old as himself. He had no hair left on his head. The last remaining grey had fallen off. His teeth had also fallen off except for a few brown ones that remained in place.
Okeke was a veteran of the Second World War and was reputed to have seen action in Burma. Well, that was the story he told and nobody had any evidence to contradict him. Many years ago he had come home with an old His Masters Voice gramophone with the megaphone carrying the picture of a dog. From the plastic long play records he regaled fellow villagers with old Zulu, Congo and Spanish music. He was indeed a very jolly good fellow.
He was now by himself. His wife was dead and his children were in other parts of the country struggling for existence. But he was not quite alone. He had a grandson of school age attending the local primary school, keeping his small house clean, cooking for him before going to school. And Okeke lived in the village, still strong, seemingly indestructible, as if he could live for ever.
They say next to a man’s wife his most valuable possession is his car. Okeke no longer had a wife and did not feel the need for another one. He also had no car but his bicycle took that place. He cared for it. Well, he cleaned it every morning, made sure the bell was in order, and looked after the tyres carefully, making sure they were always in good order and well inflated. His morning routine included taking his bicycle to the stream one mile away and washing it. He regarded that task as one he had to handle himself. No, his grandson was not to meddle with his bicycle and that included washing it. The path to the stream was hard soil, downhill and all he had to do was to struggle aboard the seat over the high frame and sit and do nothing, his feet barely touching the pedals, all the way to the stream, other than keep the bicycle on the road. The real job was coming back home, pushing the bicycle uphill, which he relished saying it was exercise that he needed to keep fit.
On this eventful day his friend and confidant, Jerry, also an old man, had taken his cow out to pasture. It is remarkable how these older men from the village looked almost alike, no hint of fat anywhere, just wiry and of indeterminate age. It was probably a result of years and years of hard work, eating naturally healthy foods and vegetables. Trips to doctors were not usual. Apart from the expense they did not really fall ill often. Jerry, like Okeke, had no hair on his head. If he allowed it to grow it was all grey but he liked it regularly clean shaven by the local barber.
He was standing in the usual place where he normally had a chat with Okeke on his way to the stream. Sure enough, not far away, Okeke was gliding nearer on his bicycle. Suddenly, the bicycle wobbled dangerously. A tyre was punctured.
Okeke shouted, `Jerry, stand where you are. Stand where you are!’ He had lost control of the bicycle. He was off the seat with one foot on a pedal. And the bicycle was stronger than him. The only hope of avoiding running into Jerry and doing him grievous bodily harm was for Jerry to stand still so that he could divert the wheel as best as he could away from him.
An alarmed Jerry stood with trepidation as he saw the bicycle drag Okeke towards him.
Okeke kept shouting, `Stand where you are. Stand where you are!’ And the bicycle hit Jerry right between the legs, knocking him over, Okeke landing on him and the bicycle on them with wheels spinning.
They both woke up at the bonesetters! Okeke had one leg broken and Jerry had this sharp pain between the legs. And he, funny as ever, said to Okeke, `Friend, I hope you have not removed my erstwhile offensive weapon which has now become a discharge hose for waste water!’
The old Rudge suffered damage that, luckily, Okeke’s children were able to rally round, collect money to put in a condition satisfactory to him. He would not listen to their plea to buy him a new bicycle.
Two months later Okeke and his friend, Jerry, were mended and well enough to continue their daily existence waiting for the inevitable.

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