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My dear, beloved bicycle thief
You've stolen 12 of my bikes. Why don't you try something new?

By Ezat Mossalanejad
Source: Toronto Star

MY DEAR, beloved bicycle thief. I do hope that this will reach you at your best possible condition of health.

One recent evening, after finishing work at 7:30, I went down with lots of hope of riding my bike home; it was missing. I searched the whole neighbourhood desperately. I was hoping that for emergency purposes you had used and abandoned it somewhere. So I went back and forth in the spot where I had locked my bike in the hope that, out of pity, you would put it back.
Alas, you had stolen my bike again.

I have been riding bicycles for the last half century; 25 years in Iran, 8 years in Poona (India), 5 years in Montreal and 12 years in Toronto. I always properly lock my bikes and nobody has stolen my bikes anywhere. Except in Toronto, where, during the last 12 years, I have lost 12 bikes.

Wednesday, during my four-kilometre walk from home to work, I continued eating watermelon seeds and thinking of you, my dear bicycle thief.

You know better than I about the ever-increasing prices and the skyrocketing rents. Therefore, it will be difficult, if not impossible, for a working person like me to buy a new bike.

Now that you have taken away my transport, I will have to continue walking for months to come. Please do not feel bad if, in the course of these long walks, I swear at you.
Especially when it turns cold.

In an attempt to discourage you from stealing, I stopped riding brand new bikes and chose to buy and ride dilapidated ones.

My friend Bruce bought me a very old rusted bike from a garage sale by paying $1.50. Thank you for leaving this bike alone. But I could only ride it for two months before the chain broke in the middle of the road. It left me helpless and caused much laughter from passers-by.

I went to Bruce again. He took me in his car and we went to almost all the garage sales in the city. In the course of two weekends we purchased an octogenarian bike for $5. I could ride it for five weeks before it stopped forever in the middle of the road.

I was left with no choice but to borrow my son's bike. I locked the front part to the bars of the bicycle rack downstairs.

In the afternoon, a client casually mentioned about seeing a bike downstairs without a back tire. It was my son's bike. Tell me please: What was the use of a back tire to you?

Do you know what happened to me that night? I pleaded my innocence by swearing to 1,000 goddesses and gods on Earth and the heavens, but my 11-year-old son did not believe me. He insisted that I had intentionally inflicted an irreparable harm upon him to discourage him from riding bicycles.

I was hoping you would think I was a woman and spare my bike

After this, I did some extra work, saved money and bought a good second-hand ladies' bike. I had been told that, in multicultural Toronto, even the bicycle thieves respect women and their fundamental rights. I was hoping that you would think I was a woman and spare my bike.
I took an additional precaution and purchased the strongest locks in the whole world. It was difficult even for me to unlock it.

How did you do that, my dear bicycle thief, without even having a proper key? Is it not better for you, my friend, to quit your job as a petty thief and become a wonderful locksmith, so badly needed in Toronto?

You have so far stolen 12 bikes from me. I have never reported to police and will never do it in future.

Let me honestly confess to you that it is not out of my feeling for you. It is due to the facts of life in this big metropolitan city. Due to various reasons, the rate of crimes has increased and will continue to do so. This has made these dedicated police officers so busy dealing with critical cases that they have no time for petty offences. Besides, hundreds of bikes are stolen in Toronto every day and bikes do not have licence plates. That is why I am appealing directly to you.

Since my bike was stolen, I have been staring at all cyclists to see if they are riding my bike. Do you understand what you have done to me? You have turned an optimistic good citizen of Toronto into a suspicious pessimist. Please, if possible, find a positive alternative to stealing poor people's bikes.

You have stolen so many bikes from me that I have become used to it. This time I have not been as stressed as before. In a way, I am turning apathetic to the whole issue.

I urgently and respectfully plead to you, my dear bicycle thief, to return my bike immediately. I will borrow money and pay you a reward five times more than the price of my bike.

It was not an ordinary bike to me. It was part of my family. Please do not separate intimate friends.

I work with the Canadian Centre for Victims of Torture, 194 Jarvis St.

You may leave the bike near the bicycle rack, where I had originally left it.

Thank you for your consideration and I am enthusiastically looking forward to hearing from you.

Saeed Tavakkol's reply
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