A chance encounter

This morning I went to the cobbler to repair some shoes and left my bike outside. On exiting the shop I saw an elderly gentleman inspecting it closely. This conversation ensued:

Gentleman: Tiegħek din ir-rota?
Me: Iva.
Gentleman: Kemm hi sabiħa Marija madoffi. Meta nara żewġ roti niġġennen jiena.
Me: Kellek xi rota fil-passat?
Gentleman: Jien? Jien kelli mutur u anke roti, imma issa waqaft tliet snin ilu. Kemm ittini żmien lili?
Me: Issa jien naf. Seventy five forsi?
Gentleman: Jien għandi tmenin! Tliet snin ilu tani stroke ħafif u il-mara ma tħallinix insuqu iktar il-mutur.
Me: Ara kemm timmissjaħ.
Gentleman (wiping off tears, I kid you not): Ħafna. Qiegħed hemm ġol-garaxx u ma nistax insuqu.
Me: Imma għallinqas għandek memorji sbieħ tiegħu. Ħudha hekk hux.
Gentleman: Jien kont il-President tal-Pellegrinaġġ tar-Roti u l-Muturi ta għal ħafna snin. Dak jien bdejtu, fl-1956. Kollox f'idi kien.
Me: Il-aħwa, x'biċċa xogħol dik. Anke jien president, għandna għaqda tar-roti u nippruvaw inħajru n-nies isuqu r-rota.
Gentleman: Hekk sew mela, sabiħ tant.
Me: Allura għidli xi ħaġa dwar il-pellegrinaġġ.
Gentleman: Bdejna mix-xejn u kiber sew issa. Jien anke lil papa eskortajt meta ġie Malta, u il-mutur daħħaltu il-knisja.
Me (thinking what a real badass this is): Allura imbagħad x'ġara, għalfejn waqaft?
Gentleman: Uuu għax imbagħad bdew jinbidlu l-affarijiet, bdew jidħlu nies ġodda, u daħlu n-nisa. Mindu daħlu n-nisa, beda l-inkwiet.
Me: X'jiġifieri beda l-inkwiet? Bdew jindaħlu?
Gentleman: Mhux jindaħlu, bdew ħafna intriċċi. Intom in-nisa mhux hekk?
Me: Le jaħasra sinjur, konna sejrin tajjeb tant! Għalfejn tgħidli hekk? Mhux minn naħa tat-tnejn ikun hemm l-intriċċi?
Gentleman: Imma n-nisa, in-nisa, jidħlulek fin fin. Tgħidlek, wassalni naqra l'hawn, vjaġġ żgħir, ħa nirkeb miegħek ... u minn hemm jibdew il-kunfidenzi.
Me: Ħeqq, mhux malajr tgħidilha m'intix interessat.
Gentleman: Insomma, sinjura, ara x'tagħmel u ibqa iġġieled għar-roti, sbieħ tant.
Me: Ħalli f'idi, aħna nħobbuhom ħafna bħalek.

Then he opened his car boot and gave me some old photographs of the pilgrimage, of his motorbike, and of the motorbike inside the church. Incidentally, he was parked in front of a garage (he was next to his car) and the owner of the garage needed to take out his car, so the gentleman had to move his. If not for this, our conversation would have been much longer.

On riding back home I came to three conclusions:
1. One day our bicycle rides need to be as big and grand as the Pellegrinaġġ tar-Roti u l-Muturi.
2. One day I must take my bicycle inside the church like this badass gentleman.
3. Bir-rota tgħabbi.

Photos are uploaded with his permission. 

Michelle Attard Tonna is the President of the Bicycle Advocacy Group

Michelle Attard Tonna