Monday, December 7, 2009

Dedication to my love - Part 3 - The Worst & The Best !

Looking back, I am still not sure about calling that day as the worst or calling it as the best day of my life. But then, one thing is for certain - It was a day to remember ! A day that I want no one else to face. A day that changed me forever. A day that brought out the inner me to the world. A day that gave me the greatest lesson of my life. A lesson that - In the quest for your love, you need to give up three very important things – ego, shame and reactions.


4:30 P.M., Friday, January 11th, 2008
Outside the chemical engineering department bus stop,
University of Wisconsin, Madison

It was around 4:30 P.M. As i was standing outside the chemical engineering department, I felt hell pouring cold snow on me. The cold wind was tearing me apart. The temperature was around – 30 C. And the tears in my eyes were freezing.

To say that I was feeling shattered would be an understatement. To say that I was devastated would also not explain enough as to what I was going through. And worst of all, I had no idea of the horrors that were going to hit me in next 20 minutes.

And as I stood there in the freezing cold and wind, my throat was choking in pain. My legs were shivering in the wind. My heart was feeling numb. And through it all, my mind was recollecting again and again the oncampus interview in which I had just been rejected.

“You could not even clear an oncampus interview ! What scholarship and research assistantship will you make ?”, screamed my mind to myself.

I had prepared for this interview for 2 weeks. I covered every topic that I could read and answered every question that I was asked in the interview. But then the professor said :

“Sai, there is no denying that you have done fabulously well in your life. I appreciate your merits. But then, one of my students is returning for the spring. And I am intending to offer this position to her. So, I am sorry. I will not be able to offer this job to you. Anyways, I will keep you in mind for the coming semester.”

It was the first interview reject of my life ! I never knew before what an interview rejection felt like ! Before leaving India, I promised dad that I’d find atleast an oncampus position if not a research scholarship. But then, today, I had a reality check. A reality check in the fact that the world respects experience, reference and recommendations more than knowledge. My ego had received the first slap on its face.

“The position is gone Sai ! What will you do now ?”, my mind was asking.
My heart had no answer !

“Speak Sai Speak ! You brought yourself into this ! The position that you should have got is just gone ! And there are no jobs left for this semester. What will you do for monthly rent ? How will you pay the fees ?”, asked my mind restlessly.

The cold wind continued to hit me like a thousand pins. Every part of my body froze. And it is then i realized that after the interview, I had forgotten my winter jacket in the department room.

“Get it back.. You are freezing.”, said my heart.
The department was about 100 feet from the bus stop.

“No.. The bus is due any moment. It’s the last one for the day. Anyways, you deserve this punishment of the cold wind. Its your ego that you were the best C++ programmer, presenter and interview giver that brought you into this”, said my mind.

“Sai, get your winter jacket !”, commanded my heart.

“You think you can walk in till there ! It’s a 100 feet ! And its – 30 C Sai ! Its snowing hell and blowing wind at many a miles per hour. And anyways what do you want to walk for ? To get that jacket and fight another day like this ? To get that jacket and make all your loved ones see you continue struggle ?”, tore my mind.

“Sai, get your winter jacket !”, commanded my heart again.

My mind did not say anything. My body refused to move.

All of a sudden the phone began to ring. I opened my hand gloves to pick the call. And the wind immediately bit all my fingers leaving them numb.

“Swathy calling”, said my phone.
I did not pick up the call.

And as I put my phone back without lifting the call, I realized that there wasn’t even a single person at the bus stop ! I was in the plain formals I wore for the interview. And the cruelly cold wind was just cutting through me. I hadn’t eaten anything all day. And it was almost 36 hours since I slept.

“Why aren’t any one there here ?”, asked my mind.
“Sai, go get your winter jacket”, said my heart.

“Oh will you shut up ? I can’t walk for 100 feet now. I would rather use my leather bag as the defense.”, said my mind.

Thinking thus, I put the leather bag, which had the laptop in it, infront of my chest. I also ensured that I turned to stand in the same direction as that of the wind, so that only my back gets to face the cold wind.

And it was the moment I was turning, I first realized in my life that the crutches i use to walk were "metallic". And these "metallic" crutches too had gone madly cold due to the wind and snow. Infact, they were carrying ice around themselves. And their chillness was so spreading through my woolen gloves, that I could no longer hold them and stand.

So I began to search for a place to sit. I sat in the snow heap, that had collected around the footpath. I tightly held on to my bag so as to not cause any damage to my laptop as well as to not let any cold air pass through me.


And as I was sitting, my mind began again.

“You are an interview reject Sai ! Come this 30th, if you pay the tuition fee of 12,500 $ you will not have monthly rental to pay. And if you don’t pay the tuition fee, you will be fined and fined and fined only to be expelled for the next semester.”, said my mind.

My heart did not say a word.

My eyes were burning. And whether the burn was out of the cold or out of the longing to see my mom, I didn’t know. My arms were aching. And whether the ache was due to the cold or due to the load of dreams I took on, I didn’t know. My body was paining. And whether the pain was due to the cold or it was because of the restlessness in me, I didn’t know. My legs were shivering. But this time though, I knew the reason. I knew the cause of my legs' shivering. I looked down to see the snow on which I had stood a few minutes back. It was something I shouldn’t have seen.
I kept my calm.

“Be positive Sai”, said my mind. The colour of the snow, everywhere my left foot had stepped was brownish red. And this changed colour also changed my mind's attitude immediately

My heart did not respond.

“Use your strategy Sai. Recollect the happy moments of your life. Think of people whom you love the most. Think of the times you spent with your best friends. Think of the day when you topped your inter class and were overjoyed to see the pride in your dad’s eyes. Think of the day when you first saw the buildings of C.B.I.T. and how you fell in love with it. Think of the day when you first entered a C coaching class to learn C language. Think of the day, you got your first job. Think of the day, you got your GRE score of 1470”, said my mind trying to cheer me up and make me feel calm. But then, if at all anything, I could only feel my mind panicking.

The wind had picked up even more. I was feeling snow cold myself.
“Bus please.. Bus please.. Bus please”, my mind was constantly chanting.

And now as I sat there all alone, feeling like a dead body, with my mind scared more than ever before, i felt i was left to destiny's will.
And scared that my mind was too, it decided to take the opportunity and blame me for everything.

“Sai”, said my mind.
“Ya”, responded my heart.

“You know what ?”, asked my mind.
“Ya”, said my heart.

“You have been one very adamant boy all your life”, said my mind.
“Ya, I know”, said my heart feeling a strange sense of smile.
“Why are you smiling ? Are you feeling proud of it ?”, asked my mind.

“No Dear.. I am not proud of it. But then, I am strangely happy about it”, replied my heart.
“Happy ? ! And what for ? For sitting in the junction of this totally alien country like a beggar ?”, asked my mind with a pinch of anger.

“Nopes Sai. You are seeing the wrong side. I am not happy for where i am sitting now. But then, i am happy for having come thus far. I am happy today for having believed in my love. A love that taught me to dream of the impossible. A love that made me feel a desire for my tomorrow. A love that made me feel hope for my tomorrow. A love that taught me to see the best in everything and be the best in everything. A love that made me wake up at 3 in the morning today and sleep at 12 in the night the other day. A love for which I had turned my world upside down. A love to attain which I will sit like a beggar in the middle of a street. You see Sai, when I believed in my love, i started feeling that anything is possible. I started setting goals, made promises and started working. Infact, I’d say i started living. I wanted to break all barriers - physical, mental, financial and emotional - which came in the way of my love and which people have forced on me. I have broken them so far. And i will continue to break them because somewhere down the line i realize that true love of a person shouldn't bind that person, instead it should make him/her feel liberated. And Dear, as i sit in this junction of this alien country, in the quest for my love, i am feelinh happy. Happy that i am fighting it out and happy that i have come thus far. And just to make you feel calm, i must tell you that the job is not done yet.. I am awaiting the day dear, I'm awaiting the day when I’d proudly meet my love”, said my heart.

And as my heart was replying thus, I suddenly felt something warm under my nose. And within seconds of my feeling that, I could feel blood trickle down my nose. Infact I saw blood from my nose falling onto my shirt and the laptop bag. I tried moving my hand to remove the hand gloves but to my greatest horror, my hands just refused to move. I tried desperately, but it was as if someone had tied me. And the more i tried, the more i failed. I tried moving my legs now but they were refusing to obey me now. I felt like a soul trapped in a cage.

I wanted to scream for help. But there was no one in the vicinity. It was pitch dark now and my only hope was the bus ! It was due 10 minutes back.

- To be continued -

Friday, November 6, 2009

Dedication To My Love - Part 2 - Mohan Anna & The Call

4 P.M., February 14th, 2008
403, Apartment J, Eagle Heights
Madison, Wisconsin.

It was 20 days into one of the greatest tragedies of my life. I was on the verge of going mad. I had lost everything – literally everything. All my dad’s money. My health. My hope. My strength. My faith & even My passion. I didn’t remember when I had eaten last. And I couldn’t remember when I peacefully slept last. I wasn’t sure how many hours did I have left to live in America. And I wasn’t sure how many hours did I have left to even live.

“Mohan Anna calling..”, Said my phone.

It was snowing like hell outside my house. The temperature outside was -30 C. I hadn’t spoken to anyone for 2 days. And I hadn’t attended my classes for the week. I was living my worst nightmare ever. My body, heart and soul had all stopped feeling anything. My mind was using various plans I had to inspire myself and yet I was just feeling empty.

“Mohan Anna calling..”, Said my phone.

Mohan anna was my neighbour in Hyderabad. I knew him ever since I first knew myself. He was one of the first ever to congratulate me on one of the brightest days of my life – When I topped my college in first year inter with a 97 %. His brother Gopal is my batchmate and one of my best friends.

I had lost touch with Mohan Anna during my engineering and subsequent years. But two days before I left for America, Gopal came to me and said, “Sai, what you are doing in life is something extraordinary. I wish and pray for your success. Annaya is living in Minnesota, U.S.A. This is his phone number. Do call him up if you need anything. Baba’s blessings will always be with you”.
“Mohan Anna calling..”, said my phone.
I picked it up.

“Heyy Sai.. How are you doing ra ? Did you eat anything ?”, asked Mohan anna.
“Yes anna..”, I lied as I didn’t want to disappoint anna again.

Mohan anna had been the only person in the world who supported me through the past, horrible 25 days. He was the only person I was talking my heart to. He was the only person whom I had opened up to. And he was the only person who knew every second of what happened in my life ever since I had landed in the U.S. And as I look back, both Mohan anna and me, realize that it was pure destiny that we met and got to talk to each other on phone regularly.

“So, what did you cook ?”, asked Mohan anna affectionately.
“Hmm.. Nothing much anna.. Same old same old.. Avakaya pickle with curd rice.. Just made some ginger tea..”, I replied unable to recollect any food items immediately.

“Hmm.. How will that be sufficient ra ? Please do eat something and eat well”, said Mohan anna with the feelings of love that one must be blessed to hear.

“Ok anna. Sure”, I replied trying to put some courage in my voice.

“Hmm.. That apart, Orai Sai.. I am not sure how to tell it to you ra.. But I have some bad news for you.”, said my dearest anna.

“Sure Annaya..”, I said with a smile in my voice.. “Please go on. Not to worry.. What worse can possibly happen after everything that happened to me in the past 25 days ?”, I said.

“Hmm.. Do not say that Sai.. You have been absolutely inspirational in the past 25 days to me. I have never ever seen anyone fight for their love as you have done and are doing. But then Sai.. I think its time !”, said Mohan anna.

“I am sorry annaya.. I am not able to understand you”, I replied.

“Hmm.. Well Sai, I am not sure how to convey this to you.. The doctors of our Sai organization are insisting you leave America immediately. The reports have been horrible. You could be infected with blood poisoning any moment. You can literally die any moment ra. Please leave now and go to India for medical care. I am not sure on how are you surviving there in Madison, all alone in such adverse conditions. I myself am not able to bear even the thought of it or even any news about you”, said Mohan anna.

“Hmm.. Annaya, is that all ?”, I asked.

“What do you mean is that all ? Don’t you understand the seriousness of the situation ? Our Sai organization people are thinking you lied to your parents about your health and came here. They think you are mad about America and egoistic. They say it is your egoism that will cost you your life. Please leave ra. I will book your return tickets.”, said Mohan anna.

“Annaya please.. You and only you know as to what i have experienced in the past 25 days. And after all that has happened, I am not going to give it up. Definitely not now. My life might leave my body. But my soul would not leave my love. I will fight and win this battle. I will get my love no matter what. And anyways what will I do after going to India ? Live at the merciful and pitiful looks of everyone ?”, I asked.

“Sai ! Please try to understand. You first need to survive more than anything else. 25 days back I knew nothing of you. You were just my neighbour Sai of hyderabad who drove a Scooty, Studied well and attended bhajans in our colony. But when I came to know everything of you, I was stunned ra. Even our own Sathya Sai Organization is mad at you at the way you are adamant about living in America inspite of your frail and worsening health.”, said my dearest anna.

“Annaya.. I have got nothing to say as of now. Last week, I have lost 10000 $ of money as medical expenses. I came here with 15000 $ in all. Having paid the advance for the house & having bought groceries and clothes, all I have is 15 $ in my shelf. I do not have money to pay for the next month’s rent. I do not have money to pay for my tuition of even the first semester. I do not have money to buy even a pizza. And yet, inspite of it all - I do have something and only one thing in me today. It is a small belief. A belief that I can pull out something extraordinary in my life here. A belief that my love would not desert me. A belief in the God above and in the blessings of my parents & love of my sister. Annaya, the final research scholarship test and interview is on the 22nd of this month. A scholarship equal to the tuition fee of 25000 $ and a monthly stipend of 2000 $. This scholarship is the last for this semester and there in only one left anna. It is going to be a do or die battle for me. If I don’t make it, it is the end of everything. It means my life is ruined. But if I do make it, then I can come out of all this in fraction of a second.”, I replied trying to sound as positive as I can.

“Hmm.. Sai, I am not sure what to say ra. I am talking of your life and death but you are talking of the scholarship exam ! Anyways, Leave everything for the moment.. How are you managing yourself all alone ra ? Aren’t you feeling it tough ?”

“Ya annaya.. It is a little tough. But I am somehow managing it. I get up at 4 in the morning. And listening to music, I make some tea and watch the snow falling for sometime. Then I do the dressing up of the wound for an hour. I also simultaneously put clothes off for washing. I have literally planned out and organized my entire house here. It took me three days to do so. But then, I have finished organizing my house. Every item now has got a particular place here. The most used things are the kept closest to my hand and reach. I use an entire room to keep my medical kit and dresses. And the other, well lit room, I use it for study”, I said.

“Hmm.. Am not sure what to say ra. But why are you doing all these things ? Why do you have to struggle so much ?”, asked annaya.

“Hmm.. Well, I have already told you everything anna. I am in a mad mad love. And as such, it is that love which is driving me into all this. I do not have any further reasons, apart from my love, to believe or explain right now. But as I said, I can feel love in what I am doing. I can sense a belief for my tomorrow. I believe that if I stand up for what I want the most, nothing will stop me.”, I replied.

“Hmm.. Not sure what to say ra.. But anything that you are finding it particularly difficult ?”, asked Mohan annaya.

“Nothing annaya. Nothing much at all is that difficult ! I am slow in doing things. But then, I start early. So, that’s not being a problem. Most funnily though I must say, washing vessels after cooking is one of the toughest, most testing and most irritating works I ever did in my life ! After I return to India, I will first ensure that atleast one day of every week I wash vessels for my Mom anna !”, I said trying to shift the mood of talk.

“Hmm.. Please stop it ra. Are you serious you can pull this off ?”, asked Mohan annaya again.

“Hmm.. Ofcourse annaya. Ofcourse I do ! The syllabus for the exam is C and C++ programming. And I believe in my programming ability to pull it off. My life annaya – my life as of today – is in a stage wherein I need 42 runs in a single over. And I believe and I really do believe that not only will I score 6 runs of every ball.. but I also believe that God will ensure a no ball will be bowled and I will hit a 6 of the same too. I am chasing a huge target annaya. I have been studying non stop for 9 hours a day now. And I will not loose the exam, no matter what – I will not loose it. Even if I am dead on the pitch half way, i will end up fighting. Annaya, trust me, 10 days from now not only will i be a research scholar in this university but two years from now, i would have begun the journey towards being the best entrepreneur this world has ever seen.”, I finished.

“Hmm.. I am not sure what to say ra.. As I already told you, there is a very thin line of difference between courage and foolishness. And I am not sure what to say about you as of today. But then, please do give me a call whenever you feel lonely. I will always be there for you in this fight. If you do need anything, just remember that I am there for you. And not to worry, I will speak to our Sai organization and manage them about your not leaving.”, finished Mohan anna.

“Thank you annaya.. Thank you so very much ! I will always remain indebted to you for this ! But annaya, more than Sai organization, can you please ensure that your parents in India talk to my parents regularly and comfort them ? Atleast for the next 10 days.. They have witnessed nothing but tears in the past 2 months and I want someone to be there for them to share their difficulties without inhibitions. And as of now, your parents are the only people who can help me in this”, I said.

“Sure ra.. I will ensure that. You prepare well for your R.A. exam. I will take care of the rest”, said Mohan anna.

“I will anna. I will for sure”, I replied.

Mohan Anna hung up the phone and the empty feeling of fear, pain, sadness & loneliness hit me again as he hung up.

But then even as I was feeling everything and nothing but negative, I knew there was a bigger purpose ahead of me. Inspite of not having anything in my life at that moment, I also had the three most important things of life – Something to do, Something to love & Something to hope for. 9 days from thereon - the R.A. exam and the interview would seal off my fate. And with not a penny in my pocket, not an energy in my body, I was there all alone in my room, almost dead, with nothing but a small belief - a small belief in my love - a small belief that something extraordinary in my life is still possible.
Lying on the bed, I now took the gift of the small wind pipe chandlier that my best friends had once given me and held it in my hand. I looked at it and was recollecting the most memorable days of my life for inspiration. I was also recollecting what had happened to me ever since I first landed in the U.S.A.

- To be continued -

Friday, October 23, 2009

A Dedication To My Love - Part 1

Dedication :

“ The greatest purpose of human life is to be acknowledged for what you are – Nothing more, Nothing less ”, said one of the most inspiring characters of my life.

And looking back, 24 years into my life now, I am writing this blog, not for any acknowledgement from anyone but as a dedication to my love. I am writing this to leave to my love's, God's and time’s judgement on what sort of a person I am. I am writing this to offer an explanation to my self on why everything I did was worth it at all. I am writing this wondering how will the times and people of the future look at the actions of my past.
This blog is actually a confession. A blog that describes me, a little part of my life and the characters involved in it. A blog that hopefully will, in the times to come, will keep inspiring me and people like me to pursue what we want and love the most no matter what.

27th December, 2007,
Night 1 a.m.,
Waiting lounge,
Begumpet Airport.

I was feeling devastated. It was as if my heart was torn apart and left on an icy grave. I could only feel tears and not blood running through my body. If ever there was a moment in life wherein I was looking for atleast one reason to live, this was it.

My ipod had been playing the same song since an hour. And everytime the song finished, I wanted to hear it again.

“ Aankhon mein sapnay liye,
Ghar sey hum chal tho diye,
Jaaney yeh raahen ab le jaayenge kahan.

Mitti ki khushbu aayi,
Palkon pe aasun laayi,
Palkon pe reh jaayega yaadhon ka jahan.

Manzil nayee hain – Anjana hain karavan,
Chalna akele hain yahaan,
Tanha Dil, Tanha Safar,
Doondey tujhey – Phir kyun Nazar ?
Tanha Dil, Tanha Safar
Doondey tujhey – Phir kyun Nazar ?
Tanha dil !

- Shaan, Tanha dil

The more I heard the song, the more it was tearing me apart. As I kept hearing it, i was reminding myself of every moment of my life. It was reminding me of all my friends, my family, my college life, my dreams and my love. All my challenges, criticisms, opposition, hatred, pain, tears and indifference.

“ Sai, you can stop it even now.. No one can question you. Your friend is really right. You are someone who can’t swim in a pond and yet you are ready to jump into an ocean full of sharks. Your Perima is really right. You cannot walk through a platform without the support of someone and yet you want to do every task on your own in a place where it snows for 8 months of an year. Your friend’s mom is really really right Sai. You can never ever live without the help of someone. And so even now there is time. Just call up dad and let it go. You cannot stay all alone in a totally foreign country. You cannot risk all your dad’s earnings on your talent. You cannot risk your life. The doctor said it can begin any moment. So,stop it all sai.. stop it.. Please ! The world is not going to change because of you and what you do”, said my mind.

My heart did not answer.

“Are you even listening Sai ? Please call up dad.. You are burning hot because of fever. You must be running close to 104 F. Do not be arrogant. It is a matter of life and death”, asked my mind.

My heart was dead. It hasn’t spoken since 4 days now. And it was yet to recover from what my doctor uncle told me 7 hours back.

December 26th, 2007
6 P.M., Premier Hospital,
Langar House, Hyderabad.

“ Sai, I am sorry. I cannot hide this from your dad. He has to know and take the decision”, said Dr. Vijay uncle.

Dr.Vijay uncle knows me and has been serving me for almost 7 years now. Mom says I am indebted to him all my life. And she is true. His skills and his skills alone have ensured that I physically survived many times.

“But uncle please.. Its for my love.. Its for my dream ! The flight is at 2 45 tonight. And it is the only chance I have to get my love and add meaning to my life. Please understand uncle. Do not tell this to dad. I request you.”, I pleaded.

“Sai, I told you many a times.. Going to America and studying there is not the only thing you can do to prove that you and people who are disabled are worth love. You can do that as well with Infosys. Infact, you have done more than enough now itself. When I saw you first 5 years back, you weren’t even fit medically to get into an engineering college. I supported you then. And I have served you for 5 years now. I have been inspired by you for 5 years now. I know you more than anyone else. But I cannot do this favour. You have no clue of life in America. And I will not let you go there.. Not atleast today. You are running a temperature of 103. You are not medically fit to even fly. ”, said uncle.

“Hmm.. Ok Uncle.. you can only certify me as physically unfit. But, I believe I am more fit mentally than anyone else on this planet right now. May be I have not seen America. But I have seen myself and people around me. I have studied and worked my heart out during four years of my engineering. In a class of the most brilliant, I ended up as one of the top 5 students. May be I am egoistic, may be I arrogant, may be I want people to acknowledge my abilities, may be I just don’t care but beyond all this may be’s – I know something. It is the fact that I am in love. And I want my love no matter what and no matter at what price it is.”, I finished

“Hmm.. Ok dear.. You go your way. I will go mine. I will speak to your dad. You decide it with him”, said uncle.

“Fine then. But do bandage my leg tight enough. Its going to be a 26 hour journey to Madison”, I said.

Uncle smiled and said “Sai, you are impossible” as he bandaged my leg.
I smiled and said “Thank you uncle. I learnt to believe in the impossible from you”.


December 26th, 2007
7 P.M., On my scooty
Langar House to ECIL

“Sai – The doctor told me everything”, said my dad waiting for me to reply.
“Dad !! Please..I think this is the final time I will be driving my jaanu scooty for a few years now. So, let me concentrate.”, I said.

“Hmm.. But sai, do you know the implications of what he said ?”, asked dad.

“Hmm.. Dad, Do you remember my first day to CBIT ? I was driving this scooty for the first time in my life.. The first time, I was ever driving something.. The first time, I ever was traveling on my own.. The first time, I was trying something alone.. You and mom were so very scared that day.. Infact remember dad ? Mom prayed at Chilkur temple that day so that I drive safe and get confidence”, I said trying to change the topic and feeling a little cute of my mom’s infinite, innocent and selfless love for me.

“Ya, and I also remember Sai, on how one day you and suresh came home after hitting a road divider and getting hurt badly. You were bleeding all over that day”, said dad.

“Ya dad.. I fell but I did rise again and drove it.. Didn’t I ? So, I won in the end”, I said.

“But life is not the same as driving a scooty Sai. And I believe you still have enough time to take back your decision”, said dad.

I didn’t reply to his words. I stopped at a gas station to fill in my scooty with petrol.
“One last time I am filling petrol to this love of mine”, I told my dad with a forced smile on my face.

Dad looked at me with a strange sense of pain and support in his eyes. I still remember the question his eyes were asking me.

“Do you think all this pain is necessary ? Do you think you will pull this off ? Do you think you will win your love Sai ?”, his eyes were asking me.

I had no replies to any of his questions.
My heart wanted to hug him then and there and cry for a few min. But then boys don’t cry !


December 26th, 2007
10 P.M., Home

“Amma.. Please pack all the gifts I got in a separate bag. Especially the statue of the cycler given by Suresh.. Be careful with the chandliers given by Sreenhija & Kavya.. All the greeting cards separately.. I’d be wearing the sweater given by Sathya and the watch given by Veera, Avi, Raki & Kiru gang. So keep them on my table.”, I said to my mom

My mom was motionless. Her eyes were swollen and red. She had been crying for almost three days now.

“Amma.. Please ! Its time.. I have a flight to catch in 4 hours from now ! Our friends’ gang is waiting at the airport. We need to call periamma and all our relations before I leave. ”, I said.

Mom didn’t speak. She hadn’t spoken to me since 3 days now.


December 26th, 2007
10:30 P.M., Home

“Not to worry mama.. You will rock ! I am sure you will.. Send me an email as soon as you reach U.S… No, call me ! If not for my dirty manager, I’d have dropped you till America itself.. But unfortunately, I am stuck in this train back to Mumbai”, said Veera – one of my best friends.

“Thanks mama.. They are the most encouraging words I have heard all this week. Will definitely call you as soon as I land”,

“Ya and call me up every week.. Email everyday.. Our gang is already at the airport. Everything is taken care of. Rock on mama.. You will get what you want ! And wear the watch we gave you”, said Veera as the phone got cut with the train going into no signal zone.

“Ya sure.. Thank you mama.. Thank you !”, I said as the phone got cut.
I was smiling for the first time in a week although it was only for a few seconds.

“Here’s the paracetamol and the antibiotic. Hope the fever comes down before you take the flight”, said dad.
“Thank you dad”, I said as I took the tablet.
I could hear mom sobbing in the other room as I swallowed my tablet.


December 26th, 2007
11 P.M., Outside my apartment

“All the best Sai.. You will rock.. We are proud of you”, said all my friends and neighbours in the colony.

“Thank you”, I said.
My friend pradeep joined my family as we began to drive to the airport. My mom hasn’t yet spoken to me.


December 26th, 2007
11:45 P.M., Outside Begumpet Airport

I got down the car. And as soon as i got down, i was hugged by Avinash, Rakesh, Suresh, Santhosh and Kiran tightly. They had been waiting there since an hour.

We all had a party only the previous night. I cut a cake at the paradise hotel and we had a bang till 12 in the night. I was wearing the watch they gave me.

“Mama, here’s your trademark coca cola.. Have a sip”, said Santhosh.
Mom took the coke from my hand and kept it aside. She was still to speak.

Suresh realized the situation. And said “Aunty, don’t worry.. Our sai will rock. He has decided and he will back it up. When he returns the entire state would be clapping for him.”

“Ya aunty.. He will rock”, said Avinash.
“Why even doubt amma”, added Rakesh.

And my mom began to sob again. Dad took her to the side and was consoling her. I wasn’t sure what to feel. My heart had gone totally numb by now.

I kept speaking to my friends. Took some photographs. And a small video.

And as it all happened, the greatest love of my life, my sister preethi sat down by my side.

“Sai, I want to give you something”, said the angel of my life who was the only reason I was even trying to put a brave face and inspire myself into a smile through those moments.
“Ya.. What is it ?”, I asked excitedly.
“Well I saved 45 rupees of money since last week. And I bought this greeting card and pen for you. I want you to write all your university exams with this”, said my preethi.

To say that I was touched is too small a line to describe that feeling I felt then ! I always believed people live for and dream about certain moments in their lives. And this certainly was one of those moments of my life ! It was like a sweet dream come true.

“Thank you”, I said with a wide grin on my face.
I put the pen in my pocket carefully and kept the card in my carry bag.

She hugged me and said “you will succeed in your love Sai.. I know you will”
“Ya, I will.. For you and our family.. I will succeed in getting my love”, I said.


December 27th, 2007
12 15 a.m.,
Begumpet airport

“Time to check in”, said the airport authorities.

My mom began to cry unconsolably as soon as she heard it. The pain of that moment still haunts me. My friends tried to console my mom. Over the years, to say that everyone of my friends were a friend to my mom and dad than to me wouldn’t be an understatement here.

“Sai, do you think you will pull this off”, asked my mom.

“Amma.. I am your son. Like periamma says “Vasanthi’s son”. And I have been born, brought up and fed in love. You have taught me to fight out for what you love the most. To silently suffer for what you love the most. To silently work towards making your love the best. To believe in the spirit of the impossible. So, there is no doubt I will pull this off. When I return, the entire India will know my achievement and what I did for my love. I will succeed in this”, I said.

Am not sure if mom heard all of that. But she, like me, had lost all ability to feel anything.

“Sai Prasad Vishwanathan, you are requested to check in”, said the airport authority again

“Just a min”, I said as I went to dad.

“Sai, I am not going to say anything. I trust you. I trust your abilities. I couldn’t earn a lot in my life. And I am sorry about it. But whatever I earned, I gave it to you. 15,000 $ is what I have given you. That includes the house’s loan amount. Your first sem’s fees is 12, 500 $. So, if you do not get the funding in first sem, you will be only left with 2500 $ for 6 months with rental for a month being 700 $. I am not sure on how will you manage. My only belief is that you will pull off the funding or some odd job within the first month of your going there.”

“I will dad. I am the best C programmer my college has seen. You know that I found my love in C++. And I am sure, I will pull my funding off within 15 days of my landing in the u.s. One opportunity is all I need. And I will put my heart, blood and soul into it. And trust me dad, not only will I get funded to study, I will also ensure that simultaneously another student like me studies in the same country”, I said as I took final blessings.

“Hmm. And do take care of your health. Baba will protect you”, said my dad.
“You take care of mom”, I said.

I took leave of my friends and sister. Looked into the eyes of my mom which were dry and lifeless to capture one last memory. And began to leave to check in.

I turned the ipod on. And it began to play the first of the 30 songs I had carefully selected to hear throughout my journey.

“ Aankhon mein sapnay liye,
Ghar sey hum chal tho diye,
Jaaney yeh raahen ab le jaayenge kahan.

Mitti ki khushbu aayi,
Palkon pe aasun laayi,
Palkon pe reh jaayega yaadhon ka jahan.

Manzil nayee hain – Anjana hain karavan,
Chalna akele hain yahaan,
Tanha Dil, Tanha Safar,
Doondey tujhey – Phir kyun Nazar ?
Tanha Dil, Tanha Safar
Doondey tujhey – Phir kyun Nazar ?
Tanha dil ! ”

- Shaan, Tanha dil

- To be continued -

Monday, July 27, 2009

Dedicated To The Rose in Everyone ! :)

This story written by me is a humble dedication to my parents who taught me the way of life and made me everything i am ! It is inspired by all those lovely lovely friends of mine who proved my parents correct and who refuse to see anything but the good in me :) ! It is a humble gift to the soul of my life - My Sister Preethi..
Preethi was a very affectionate & passionate girl. She was 12 years old. And one day, as she went to school with her brother, she saw an old lady selling rose flowers. She fell in love with the roses on first sight.

“Amma, how does the old lady get those beautiful roses ?”, asked Preethi innocently when she returned home.

“She grows rose plants at her place dear. That is how she gets them”, replied her mom.

“Can I too grow such rose plants and get roses from them too?”, asked Preethi with loads of enthusiasm.

“Sure dear. We will plant one at our place tomorrow”, replied her mom lovingly.

That night, Preethi was really excited. Every moment of that night, She had kept thinking of how she would plant, how she would water the plant regularly, nourish it, care for it and get a rose herself. And the following day, her mom did help her plant a stem in their house’s balcony.

Preethi was having the best time of her life that week. She was caring for the plant, watering it, nourishing it – looking after it as if it were her own child. It was her first love. And with the dawn of each day, She would immediately run to the plant to see if a rose had bloomed.


It was three weeks into her planting the stem. One day, Preethi got up at 5 in the morning. And ran to the plant as usual. But something terrible had happened. Alas ! What did she see ?

Instead of rose that she was expecting to see, she saw a very small bud and a long stem with a lot of sharp thorns. Preethi was disappointed. She wanted a rose and she got thorns ? And touching the thorns was so painful too ! This was the least thing she wanted in life. She now hated her desire to love a rose. She thought that roses aren’t so sweet after all. She now decided to ignore the plant altogether. She stopped watering it. And she decided she would never ever go to the balcony after that day.

It was the 13th of December. Preethi woke up excitedly today. After all, it was her birthday today ! After the early morning rituals, She took the blessings of her mother. It being her birthday, she was lovingly kissed by her dad. He then closed her eyes with his palms and took her to her surprise.

He took her to the balcony !


When she opened her eyes, Preethi was uncomfortable to see that she was in the balcony. But then, voila ! What did she see in a few seconds ? In the balcony, she saw a beautiful rose. It was the same plant she had ignored 2 months back. It has now grown taller, most beautiful and looked super lovely ! The thorn was still there. But then, the beauty of the rose was too good to notice the thorn ! No one would even care for the thorn now. Even if the thorn were to cause pain, the beauty and loveliness of rose was an experience worthy to suffer the pain !

“But Dad, how is it possible ? I had stopped watering and caring for it ! It had only thorns initially. Where did the rose come from ?”, asked Preethi.

“Dear, a rose comes out of a rose bud. And rose buds are on the stem of the plant. Initially, the thorns grow faster on the stem than the rose does. But if continuously cared and protected for, the rose will eventually come out. When you stopped watering and caring for the plant after seeing the thorns, your mom and i watered, nourished it till we got the rose”, said dad.

“Hmm.. :) Thank you so very much dad”, said Preethi excitedly.

“And that growth is not only about the rose dear. It is also about you. As time passes and as you grow, the bad and troubling qualities in you would seem to be grow faster than the good qualities in you. The thorn like defects in you would seem to become more dominant than the rose like goodness in you. But then, if you fall into the trap and think of yourself as bad, you would be ignoring and killing the rose in you dear ! So, never ever think that there is badness in you. Never ignore the good in you. Never neglect to water yourself for the goodness you have. You will realize dear that in time, by caring for yourself every day and every minute, by valuing the smallest and the bud like good qualities in you, by working on those qualities with love, by not worrying about the guilt of thorns, by understanding that it is all a part of the growth process, one day a beautiful rose will come out of you. A rose that everyone would love. A rose that is so very beautiful. A rose that would just spread joy to everyone who has it. Ignore the thorn. Become the rose dear.”, finished dad.

Preethi could not understand such a heavy philosophy and words of her dad :P. She looked confusingly at her dad. She plucked the rose and immediately ran to give to his brother who was still in his bed sleeping.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Life, Love & Regrets

" Following our love is painful. Forgetting our love is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering "

Said in Page 46,
Book : By the River Piedra, I sat down and wept,
Author : Paulo Coelho

It was around 3 a.m. on a rainy night. The moon was playing hide and seek in the dark clouds. And as a cool breeze blew melodiously to shave my face, I was there all alone in my room, by the window, with a novel in my hand.

“Following our love is painful. Forgetting our love is painful. But not knowing which to do is the worst kind of suffering ”, I read in the book.

Something about those lines struck me hard. Something about those lines made me feel uneasy. Something about those lines made me immediately close the novel without reading it further. And something about those lines took me into my past.

“Given a chance Sai, I would want a life of which I have no desires and regrets”, said one of my best friends during a casual talk. “I neither want happiness nor do I want misery. I just do not want to desire for anything. Whatever I have desired for, I never got it anyways. So, I will take whatever life has to offer and not regret anything. That is the best way to live”, my friend finished.

It seemed a beautiful thought. But then, Something about those words pinched me as soon as I heard them.

“ Is that possible ? ”, I asked my friend immediately.

“ What ? ”, asked my friend.

“A life without regrets.. Is that possible at all ?”, I asked again.

“Yes Sai.. All you need is a lot of mental strength and a bad memory ;)”, my friend replied jocularly.

“Hmm..”, I said.

We changed topics and life moved on. But then those words continue to haunt me through the years. And tonight, as i was reading those lines in the novel, they only served as a gentle reminder for the unanswered question.


“Heyy heart, are you there ?” asked my mind.
“ Yes dear.. I am always there whenever you want to speak to me :)”, replied my heart sweetly.

“Ya Ya, I know.. So, what do you think about it ?”, asked my mind.

“About what ?”, asked my heart.

“About that only yaar.. The regret.. I have suffered enough now.. I want an answer. Do you think by not desiring anything and by having a bad memory, we can have a life of no regrets ?”

“Hmmm.. What made you think I would have an answer at all to that question ?”, asked my heart.

“Because ‘regret’ is a feeling. And as you always say, ‘feelings are your department and only you know and understand them’ ! ”, replied my mind.

“You have become intelligent in dealing with me.. haven’t you ?”, replied my heart.

“Hmm.. Years of experience with you have taught me that there is no point in arguing with you. So, I am resigned to understanding and accepting your ways”, replied my mind.

“That’s lovely dear.. But then, I still wonder what made you think I can answer that question and moreover, even if I did answer, what makes you think it would be the right one ? !”, asked my heart.

“Would you answer it or not ? Leave the reasoning and judging of its correctness to me.. Just answer !”, commanded my mind.

“Hmm.. There you go ! :) You have already answered that question and that too just now dear ! So, there is nothing left for me to say !”, replied my heart.

“What ? !! Are you crazy ? When and what did I answer ? Heart, I know that you are mad. So, do not prove it to me time and again ! Just talk straight and talk the point please”, said my mind frustrated.

“Hmm ok.. Dear, as you said regret is certainly a feeling ! And so it belongs to my department. But unfortunately, when you and your reasoning, you and your judging, and you and your decision making skills use my regretful ‘feelings’, then things, life and attitudes change !”, said my heart

“I didn’t understand.. Can you be clearer ?”, asked my mind.

“Hmm, let us take the novel’s story for instance. The girl is in love with the boy. Love - a feeling. But she does not have the courage to stand by it. Courage – a feeling. The absence of courage and the pain of his loss thereafter led her to regret it all. Regret – a feeling. And thereafter, she only used regret to make a decision about how her life should be led ahead. She used her ‘regret’ - reasoned, judged and decided - how life should be led from there on. Right or wrong, She decided, based on regret, she wouldn’t love him anymore. She decided, based on regret, that she wouldn’t risk anymore. She decided, based on regret, that she would be strong to never think of her love again. She decided, based on regret, that she would change and want nothing from life because she never got what she wanted in the first place ! She decided based on the regret that she would forget her past. And she made and followed all her decisions based on that one feeling and to avoid that one feeling – Regret !”, said my heart.

“Hmm.. ”, said my mind.

“And as you see dear, while there were three great feelings involved in the story - love, courage and regret – in the end, she used only regret to make all her decisions and and changed her life accordingly.”, said my heart.

“Hmm.. So do you say it is wrong ?”, my mind asked.

“It is not for me to say that dear. To reason it as right or wrong is your department. But then, did you think as to what has she got so far for all the decisions she made based on regret ? She got “Silence”, which she interprets as peace and which she treats as “no regrets” anymore !”, finished my heart.

“How do you know that its not peace, no regrets and only silence ?”, asked my mind.
“Because, peace, regrets and silence are all feelings dear :)”, said my heart.

“Hmm.. So what do you say ? A life of no regrets is impossible ?”, asked my mind.
“No dear.. It certainly is possible”, replied my heart.
“Huh ? !! How is that possible ?”, asked my mind.

“Sai dear, every human being is bestowed two critical abilities - An ability to think and an ability to feel. But then which of the abilities is the master and which of the abilities is the slave is what makes the difference between loving our life and regretting our life”, said my heart.

“Hmm..”, said my mind.

“Dear, When you use our thinking to follow my love, when we together exhibit strength & endure the pain of our love, when we show courage to stand up for what we love - We begin to experience, live and love life. And in that lovely life no matter what troubles come in our way, no matter how painful those troubles may be, no matter how humiliating those troubles can be, and no matter how many sacrifices need to be made, in the end – Our love will win. Dear, Right from a simple love to study higher, or love to work in a creative field, or any love that you are passionate about - you have to use your thoughts, your hardwork, your time, your strength and even your pain, humiliation and sacrifices to go after what you love. In short, if you follow me and go after what I want, I can lead you to a life of where we don’t feel any regrets. But if I were forced to follow you and do what you want, I am sure we both will regret in the end. And that is because to follow your decisions in itself is a great regret for me. It is, for me, equivalent to accepting that the love i hold in me is something inferior to the thoughts and decisions you make.”, said my heart passionately.

“How dare you say that ? ! You say following me makes you regret ? ! Remember heart, It is my mental strength that keeps you unaffected of failures ! It is my mental strength that keeps you away from feeling miserable. It is I who save you from getting hurt ! And it is I and my intelligence who get you the respect people give you. And you say you regret following me ?”, retorted my mind angrily.

“Hmm dear.. What mental strength are you talking about ? Strength is in following what you love. Not in running away from it. And it is not me who is afraid of failures dear. It is you. It is not me who needs other’s respect. It is you. Remember Sai, in the end, the people whose words you are following, the people whose decisions you are living and the people whose respect you are craving for will all leave the world. They have to leave. The only person who will be with you is me and unfortunately you are making me ‘empty’ & ‘silent’. And with an ‘empty’ and ‘silent’ me, all you can do in the end is regret Sai. On the contrary, if you were to follow me, not care about what people say or think, not care about the rules established for you to follow, not be scared of the challenges that come your way, then in the end when you and me are alone, I’d have love, you’d have memories and together we would have ‘lived’.”, finished my heart.

“Hmm.. Sounds romantic ! But totally impractical. Who on earth would understand that I was following you and that I was in love and for love. Who would understand that I am and I would in the end not regret anything that I do ? And who would respect me for it ?”, asked my mind.

“Sai, when you understand yourself and when you don’t regret what you do.. there is no need for anyone else to understand you ! But when you don’t understand yourself and regret not having done what you wanted, it doesn’t matter who else understands you ! Because their understanding is of no use to you then ! Also, any respect out of such useless understanding, is worthless too. So, as long as you understand yourself and follow your love, even if the whole world thinks you are crazy, it'll make no difference to you. But then if you don’t understand yourself and cannot in the end justify what you did with your life, even if the whole world respects and understands you, it’d make no difference to you !”, replied my heart.

“Hmm.. And how do I know that what you have said is all the right thing to do ? ”

“Hmm.. Sai, in the matters of the heart and feelings, there are no right or wrong decisions. There are only “Human” decisions. And yet inspite of it all, if you want a proof, you’d see that when you are born as a human child Sai, you are expressing and seeking love. When you are dying all alone or amongst your loved ones, you are again expressing and seeking love. Even in between, at all the critical points of life, you are expressing and seeking the love of the almighty. And yet every time a decision to follow your love needs to be made, you “think” ! And it is such a shame Sai that you even think before following your love ! It is nothing more than an insult to the very love that you are born, brought up and die in. Just remember this one thing Sai – Greatness, respect, obedience, name, fame, satisfaction and peace may all lie in liking what you do and making me follow you, but then LIFE lies in doing what you love and making you follow me ! Remember Sai, we – the heart and the mind - only live once together in this world ! And who is the master and who is the slave is what will make the difference between love and regret over your life.”, said my heart.

My mind didn’t speak after that. I moved to my table, calmly opened and began reading the novel again. And as i turned page after page to read out what the girl in the story has eventually decided to do in her life, there was a storm in my heart & rain in my eyes.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

My Life's Most Inspiring Day - Part 1

I felt as if a thousand angels were dancing around me. It was a strange sense of joy that I was experiencing for the first time in my life ! It was a feeling of blood rush and adrenalin that had never happened to me before. It was a feeling that I am unaware as to how to express. It was all about a moment when, 16 years after my birth, for the first time ever, I was holding a cricket bat in my hand !

Like every average Indian, I was born with a mad, blind love for this game called Cricket. Unfortunately, my health conditions & disability, apart from the excessive affection and tender care my parents had for me ensured that i never got to play it till then.

That summer though, I had just finished my 10th board exams. There were two months of holidays ahead. And after one complete week of persuasion and emotional protests, I finally earned what I had been so desperately longing all my life. I had earned for one day - the permission to play cricket in the open grounds with all my friends !

Every second of that evening is still fresh in my memory. It was around 4 30 in the evening that day. I had dreamt of that evening all through the previous night. I had imagined all the possible shots that I would play for a given ball and the number of different ways I could get a batsman out. Much to my excitement, I also found out that I was a left hand batsman and a right arm bowler. “A rare gem I am”, I excitedly thought to myself. :)

I couldn’t sleep all night. I even visualized friends calling me up and saying that they would want me in their team throughout the summer after my performance in the coming evening. I thought with that one innings, I could change everyone’s life and attitude towards my playing cricket and spent all night imagining it.

The evening had arrived. Desperate to run away to the play ground, I was now gulping through the boiling horlicks that my Mom gave me. She looked more nervous today than I had ever seen before. Infact, the boiling horlicks was a deliberate tactic by her to delay my entry into the playground ! And as she ensured that every inch of my body was well protected & cared for, she was passing on millions of instructions to me on how I shouldn’t stress myself much and on how I should stay and play only in the shadows. She also suggested dad that he stay at the ground after dropping me there. I vociferously protested this suggestion of hers and won that protest too. It was a day when I was destined to win everything, I thought.

There were 15 players in all at the ground. Only a couple of them were known to me. Both of them were my classmates at school. Dad left after dropping me there and re-repeating mom’s instruction set. Much against my wishes though, he had also spoken to my classmates before he left and asked them to take care of me. He wished me all the very very best.

Although, it was just another evening of play, fun and frolic for 14 of those players it wasn’t the same for me. It was the biggest evening of my life. It was an evening that I had only imagined till then. It was dream stuff for me. And looking back at it today after all these years, dream stuff it certainly turned to be !

“Sai, you will be a joker”, said a tall lean guy. I hadn’t known him before and I didn’t understand what “joker” meant. But then, the authority with which he said I would be a joker and more importantly the very term “joker” made me feel as if I wanted to hit every ball of his over for a six right then !

I looked towards my classmate to explain what he meant.

“Sai, since there are odd number of people, one guy gets to play for both the teams. That guy is called a joker”, replied my classamate.

“Woww ! So, I play for both teams ! That’s so damn great ! The tall guy wasn’t bad after all. Guess I am the first guy ever in the history of the game to play a debut game in the same match for both the teams ! You really are a rare gem Sai”, I thought to myself.

“The condition though Sai is that a joker can only bat. He can neither bowl nor field. Additionally, he will be the last to bat for both the teams.”, added my classmate.

I felt as if someone had slapped me hard ! I cannot bowl ! And I cannot field too ! And worst of all, I bat last !! I wondered if Mom had prayed for this in the morning and wanted to talk to her about it immediately ! My heart wanted to scream a big NO to that condition mentioned by my classmate. But then I was scared of loosing even the little opportunity I had. I nodded to indicate my agreement.

As I played for both teams, it would be illogical to say that my team won the toss. Anyways, one team of 7 won the toss and decided to bat first. It was 10 over a side match. I was sitting behind the wicketkeeper and fervently praying that the top 6 get out in the first over itself ! That would give me 9 overs to play. “2 overs to settle down, 3 to consolidate and 4 to slog” – I planned mentally.

Much to my horror again, not even a single person got out in the first 8 overs. Inside, i was fuming like all those volcanoes whose names I had byhearted throughout the month of april. The score was a daunting 76/0. 5 more batsmen to come before I get to bat for this team. 2 overs left. Yet, I was hopeful.

In the 9th over, two wickets had fallen. And the score read 80/2. “4 balls 4 wickets and I get to play 2 balls”, I thought. I was hopelessly hopeful. I also wondered if my dad, during his talk with my friends, had fixed this match to prevent me from batting ! He was certainly capable of doing such things.

As I was thinking all such, the first innings was now done. Half of my dream was broken. The next team was set a target of 92 to win in 10 overs.

Since I neither got to bat, bowl or field in the first innings, I now thought the chasing team was my actual team. Infact, I mentally labeled the chasing team as India and the other team as Pakistan. I was now preparing to thrash the pakistani bowling attack when I get the chance. The question now though was would I get the chance ?

The chase of 92 runs began. And the chasing team had a start that I wanted them to have – They lost 3 wickets in first two overs with almost nothing on the board.

The match moved on.

32/5 in 6 overs. The score line read for my Indian team. 24 balls left. 60 runs to win. Two batsman left. And one of them was Sai – “ Now that is what you call a match,” I then thought ! Infact I wished one more wicket to fall, so that the match would really begin with my entry.

The wish had come true too. It really really was my day ! At the end of the 7th over, the 6th wicket had fallen. The dream moment of mine had now finally arrived.

It must have been about 6:30 in the evening ! The sun, as if to answer Mom’s prayers, was casting long shadows on me and the ground. 16 years after my birth and 17 overs into my debut cricket match, I was holding a cricket bat in my hand ! The entire team was dependent on me for victory. 3 overs. 54 runs. Sai at the wicket. I wished dad was there to see me play !

I was now gearing up to face the first ball ever in my life. Would it be a bouncer ? Would it be a Yorker ? What if I charge down the wicket ? Could I pull the ball on the front foot ?

And as trillions of thoughts were passing through my mind, I saw the bowler. I could not stop chuckling to myself on seeing him. He was the tall, lean guy who made me the “joker”. “God exists and he listens to my prayers too !” I thought on seeing him.

Let us see who is the joker now. 36 runs in this over no matter what, I told myself ! One of my classmates was my batting partner and the other classmate was my by-runner.

“Who the hell needs a by-runner anyways ? If at all something is needed, it is 9 new balls, because each of them is going to disappear out of the ground !”

I was waiting for the bowler to roll his arm over. “If its short – pull, If its a bouncer – hook, If its a Yorker – come down and hit it, If its length – just time it”, my mind was instructing me at a rate it had never done before in life.

And as I took one the most awkward stances ever taken in the history of the game, the moment of my life had finally arrived. But it was a moment that had left me shattered !

It was a moment which even after so many years I can never overcome. A moment that broke all my dreams. A moment that I watched with horror and helplessness. A moment which went onto change my very attitude, philosophy and outlook towards life. A moment which made Mom give me the golden mantra for my life later that evening !

In that life changing moment, as I was waiting for a short ball or a Yorker or length ball and was dreaming to thrash it out of Hyderabad, the tall lean guy had strangely and with a very casual smirk on his face did something I had never expected. Instead of bowling the ball properly, he just rolled the ball along the ground towards me ! He rolled it all along the ground, very slowly and in my direction so that I could hit it easily. And immediately after rolling it, he began speaking to my classmate at the other end as if he did not care what happened to the ball.

I was shocked ! I had lost all my strength in that single moment. Why would he not bowl a proper ball to me ? Is there no umpire here ? Why had he pre determined that I am incapable of hitting anything ? And why was only a ball that rolled along the ground considered fit for me ? ! To all these questions, I never got the answer. All of a sudden, my throat was now choking with pain and anger. The bowler had bowled underarm and rolled the ball along the ground like they do for 2 year old kids. It was the first time in life when so much hope, dream, ambition and passion for something all crashed in a matter of microseconds. The first time in my life, when someone had made a judgement and pointed out my lack of abilities.

And as if to make matters worse, I didn’t hit even that ball and was clean bowled ! I guess life is not only bad when its bad, its cruelly cruel ! My insides were all now imploding and I wished that I no longer existed or was visible to anyone in the ground at that moment.

I put the bat down and walked towards my house with tears in my eyes and questions in my heart.

- Continued below -

My Life's Most Inspiring Day - Part 2

I was back home much before the scheduled time. Mom was furious that I had walked all the way home from the ground. But I didn’t care.

“So, did the prince score a century and take a hat-trick ?”, asked my dad.

I wanted to stare angrily at him but did not have the courage to do so. It was as if everything and everyone around me were just adding to the pain and I could do absolutely nothing. I went down and sat in the balcony. As I sat down staring at the sun merging with the sky, I was wiping out the tears that my blank heart was shedding.

“Anna, did you score a century ?”, asked my Jaanu sis.
And as most of the people who are close to me know and for all reasons still unknown to me even today, she was the only person whom I would not show my bad emotions on. She was the only person with whom I would share everything. And she was the only person who was capable of making me see the brighter and lovelier side of things always.

She pulled a chair and sat down beside me.
“So anna, did you score a century or take a hattrick ? I bet you did both !”, she said affectionately ! Her sweetness felt like snow fall on the lava that was flowing within me.

“No preethu. I got out first ball. I was clean bowled !”, I said.
“He he he.. Wish I was there to see you ! Sai scoring a duck !” she giggled. “So you came running away from the ground after that duck ?” she asked.

Something inside me struck me hard. Her innocent question ripped me apart. What made her think I would run away from the ground ? And infact, she was right ! I really did not want to be there at the ground too anyways. It was just a coincidence that the match had finished.

“No preethu. The match was over. I was the last to bat”
“Oh. That is ok anna. You will hit the fastest century the next time !” said the soul of my life.

“No, I will never ever play this game again preethu. Infact, i will not even watch it from now on. I will be stone hearted towards it from now on. I regret having played it today too.”

It was then that my mom had joined me with her usual glass of horlicks ! I wonder how is that she always feels my hunger and thirst even before I feel it !

“So, why is that our prince will stop watching and playing cricket ?”, asked my Mom.

I had told her and my sis the events of the evening in detail. Dad too joined us. The sun and with it the anger in me had totally set.

After hearing to the whole story, Mom hugged me and took me and sis inside the house from the balcony. She insinuated dad to leave the place and he went on to watch T.V. And then she made us sit down beside her.

“Sai dear”, she said. “What you did today was one of the bravest and most inspiring things I had ever seen in my life ! We are proud of you for what you have done Sai ! You know its not about the score at all, but then the fact that you had the passion, the enthusiasm, the planning, the dream and most important of all, the hunger to be a part of the game and make a contribution to it that makes us proud of you. They are all the qualities that you need to score a century. You had them all and showed it too. We are really proud of you dear !”

“But then ma, why did that boy bowl underarm to me ? Why did he not consider me a normal guy like you all do I asked ?”

“Hmm, you see Sai. This life is very much like cricket. And as in cricket, there are all sorts of characters and balls in life”

“Huh ?”, I looked at my Mom puzzled.

“Hmm.. Sai, in life as in cricket, there are different types of people. And the actions that these people perform are like the balls in an over. Some actions are strict like Yorkers. Some are easy going like length balls. Some are full tosses. Some are unplayable like the bouncers. Why they bowl a particular type of ball, only they know. But then, people like bowlers are capable and do bowl different balls.”

“Hmm..”, I said.

“And as a batsman, what is that is your responsibility ?” asked my mom.

“Never ever get out. No matter what ball is bowled !”, I replied quickly.

“Yes. You should never ever get out ! You should never let the actions of people affect you. You should focus on the action as just another delivery and play as per its merit. Not only people’s actions. Even life’s situations demand you to do such things Sai”

“What does that mean ?”, I asked.

“Well Sai, the one life you have got is like the one opportunity you get to bat. You will be facing different kinds of people as bowlers and different kinds of balls as situations. We, your parents, and your sister would be sitting in the middle of the audience watching you play along with the whole world. We would have coached you to play and would be ready to be there after the match. Your friends and your loved ones constitute your team. Your dream is your target. Every day is a ball. The kind of ball is the situation. The people you meet and those who oppose you are the bowlers”


“And among the bowlers, there are people who would sledge. There would be people who would laugh at your stance. There would be people who would keep telling you that the target is impossible. There would be people in the audience who would chant against you ! Remember even Sachin has his haters and you are no exception to opposition !”

“And what is that you need to focus on ? Not the sledging ! Not the bowlers ! Not even the coach. You must focus only on the ball. You must focus only on the situation and how you will use it to reach your target. You will relentlessly keep working until you reach the target. No matter how many sledge you, no matter how many ignore you, no matter how many smirk at you and no matter how many don’t even think you are fit enough to play at their level, you will slowly, steadily be making progress towards your target. You have to stay there and play till you get out !”

“But what if get out ma ? I got out the first out ball today”, I asked.

“Hmm.. Yes dear. You got out the first ball today. But then, is cricket all about only one wicket ? 10 wickets have to fall before you are all out ! And in this game called life, you yourself are all that 10 wickets ! Isn’t that exciting ?”, she asked.

My heart was feeling a strange sense of inspiration. It was fascinating to have my angel telling me that the game I loved the most is the very game I will be playing for life. The game I loved the most can also be called as “life”

“And as I said Sai. Each ball is like a situation. And like balls, there are going to be Yorkers, bouncers, full tosses, length balls, wide balls and no balls. And there are going to be many ways in which they will get you out. People will sledge, people will chant against you, people will smirk at you, you yourself might chase a wide ball and get out, you might be run out due to lack of proper judgement, you might be caught in the deep because you did not hit the ball hard, you can be clean bowled too because you couldn’t have a clue about it. But the most important thing is to stay at the wicket and play the game till you reach your target ! Put a price on yourself as a batsman. Do not give your wicket away no matter what and never loose sight of the target.”

“Hmm.. But ma what If I get all out and fail to meet my target ? Won’t they all be laughing at me ? Won’t I have been a burden on my team ? Won’t I have broken all your trust and subjected you all to pressures and whims ?”, I asked.

“Hmm.. Sai, God had created this game and there are two ways to play it. One is to consider this as just a game and play it. And one is to consider it as every thing and play it. There is no wrong method as such. But firstly, it is very important that you play the game. And you must play it with all the passion. There are people who consider that God has already fixed the match and that they would score as many runs as God has willed them to score. Remember Sai, God is a bowler, God is the ball, God is the audience, God is the coach, God is even a friend and batting partner but then God is NEVER the batsman ! Its you and your own free will that is the batsman. And never ever blame him for match fixing. He is just an all round player who plays for you sometimes and who plays against you sometimes. He is like a JOKER. He plays for both the teams. But then he plays only to make you a better player”

“Is God too a joker ?”, I asked even as my heart laughed heartily.
“Yes. And a joker who can only field and bowl. But can never bat !”, said my mom.

“And what about the umpire ma ?”
“Well the umpire is what is called as luck Sai.. It will check if you are playing well. And will sometimes favour you and sometimes favour the bowler. All you can do is to accept whatever comes your way. Else, if you keep cursing the umpire for the decision, you will pay a heavy fine at the end apart from loosing at your wicket.”

“And who are the fielders ?”
“The fielders are those and that who oppose your dreams and ensure that you fail to reach your target. The fielders are not only people they are things too. Money is the best fielder of all in the opposing team. It is the wicketkeeper fielder. It always is behind you and keeps distracting you. You also have criticism fielder, sledging fielder, the bad neighbours fielder, the bad relations fielder, the fear of failure fielder, the overconfidence fielder, the “I will make you tired” field and many others. You have to overcome them all”

“And so you must have a great team too Sai. You will have your best friends as your batting partners. You must have confidence as the bat, self respect as the batting gloves pads and attitude as the helmet. You must exercise self control and most importantly learn that the target will be achieved as team not alone. So play for yourself as well as play for your friends and team. Play to achieve the target. But most importantly play.”

“And ma, what if I loose inspite of all this or what If I play a bad shot ? Should I regret it ?”

“Sai, you first to play to have fun. And then you play to win. The only important thing is that you should play and play no matter what. You should chase the target. You should chase your dreams. There are many people in the world Sai who because of the fielders around them, a bad team sometimes, a bad technique may times regret playing a particular shot and refuse to play ever after. They would never ever play after a wicket has fallen or a bad shot is played. But then Sai, it is the greatest insult to God if because of one bad shot, you refuse to play the game altogether and give the opposing team “win declared”. It would be insult to the audience. It would be a let down to your team, your friends and your beliefs and values. It would be a gross injustice to the batsman who is partnering you and who trusted you with playing the game throughout. So, at least for a fellow batsman and for a fellow human you are not supposed to loose to the fielders, a bad team or a bad shot. They are there all to distract you from getting what you want."

"Remember Sai, it is not courage to regret a bad shot and it is not courage to stop playing the game you love altogether because of it. Courage lies in playing the shot again after you looked ugly playing it once. Courage lies in trying to score till you win. Strength lies not in never regretting but it lies in supporting yourself, your beliefs and the people who believed in you and are playing for you ! Strength lies in playing, playing and playing till you win. So remember Sai, never ever give “win declared” to the other team. Loose but still play. Look awkward but still play ! It is an insult to God to give up and say “win declared” to the opposing team half way. What is that you get by giving a win declare ? Nothing more than an opportunity to sit and watch the game ! You would either become the audience of the game or do the pitch report all life or worse be a commentator. You would become one of those who would consider that toss the only factor that will decide the match. Remember Sai, it is ok to be a looser. But very important to be a player. It is of the utmost importance that you played this game of life with your heart, soul, mind, qualities, friends, family, god and against tough fielders, awesome bowlers and superb balls to achieve an impossible target. Remember Sai, as a player, when you were given a chance - you took the bat and walked out on the ground. You choose to entertain God in this game that people say he created. And to entertain God with your game is the greatest victory you can ever have. Even if people call you a looser after trying, the very fact that you tried, opposed the fielders, played the bowler with the limited ability you have, supported your friends, cared for your beliefs, valued your strengths and stood by them and for the very fact of having played the game passionately and entertained him, God would certainly give you a standing ovation irrespective of the targets you achieved and that is all that matters.”

“Hmm maa.. I cannot say how inspired I am feeling now ! I promise you maa.. No matter what, I will keep playing and playing and playing till I drop dead.”

Mom slapped me on the face. The word “dead” has never been the word she liked, especially when it came from my mouth ! :)

“Remember another thing Sai ! Never use bad words. Never sledge. Never ever discourage a fellow player. If you edge the ball and are caught, walk ! Play hard but play fair. Trust your friends. Give them space. Remember, it’s a team game ! And there are times when friends loose their wicket too. Do not show your emotions. There are times when you run them out or they run you out. Remember, its all part and parcel of the game ! The objective is to have fun, win and entertain the audience. Not to show you are the only best player the world has ever seen. Talk to your coaches called teachers from time to time and learn the game from them. Always be enthusiastic to learn. Do not loose focus and do not get carried away. Remember Sai, You are just a player and God is watching not only your play but also on how you play. So be on the alert.”

“And maa.. one stupid question”, I said sheepishly.
“Yes dear”, said my mom.

“Who exactly is the pitch then ?”
And my mom smiled at the question.

“The pitch is the country you live in dear. It is your very own India. It is your soil and motherland. People will tell you that a true player is one who can and will score more runs abroad and in foreign conditions. But then dear, to play in your country with the support of your home crowd is a fun and experience that is something totally different altogether ! It is the joy, bliss and a blessing of a lifetime ! And it is something you will miss when you play abroad even if you score tons of runs.”

As mom finished thus, that night, I was the most inspired soul on the planet. We all moved to have dinner. And my jaanu sis said that she wanted my autograph and she will be my fan throughout my life, no matter what ! I took her autograph too :)

Almost 10 years have passed since that day. And everytime I face an overwhelming situation I look for an analogy not in the Bhagawad gita, not in the Quran, not in the Bible, not in the movies, not in the people around me.. But I look for an analogy in this game called cricket – the religion of India.

And thanks to my ever inspiring Mom, everytime I look into it, there is an answer. I began playing the game i loved the most.. A game called LIFE !

Sunday, April 19, 2009

I Am A Hypocrite, By Choice - Part 1

“ Sai, I am the sort of a person, if I do not like something about someone, I tell it right on their face. I cannot be some person on the inside and someone else on the outside. That’s being hypocritic”, said one of my dearest friends during a very casual talk about an incident at his workplace.

Now, its been years since I had that talk with my friend and yet very strangely, those words had remained etched in my memory forever.

And no matter how hard I tried to bury them as just a casual talk, I never really could do it. And everyday, during the nagging time when my head hits the pillow but the sleep doesn’t hit the eye, I keep thinking and rethinking of the wisdom of those lines. And the more I think of them, the more I loose my sleep.

The loss of sleep is because my heart realizes that those words of my friend were also talking about the ‘real’ me. Infact, they were speaking about something I am not. They innately and pokingly reminded me of my ability to be some person on the inside and someone else on the outside. In short, they keep reminding me that, unlike my true friend, I AM A TOTAL HYPOCRITE.

Friends, I guess time and again in life, we come across situations and more importantly people in those situations, with whom we have a difference of opinion, difference of thoughts, difference of ideologies, difference of approach, difference of attitude, difference of culture or difference of even character.

And all along my life, I have met only two kinds of people with regard to those situations.

One kind being those who take the differences above, talk it out straight and try their very best to set right the differences. Those people are labelled as the ones who are frank, straightforward and no nonsense types when the differences are properly settled eventually. But God forbid, if the differences aren’t properly settled and if there comes no compromise solution leaving the issue contentious on forever, the very same people are labelled as ones with ‘attitude’, as people who are fussy and as trouble making people who give a damn to what others have to say.

And for the same situation, the second kind of people are those who choose to live with the differences rather than actually solving them ! They tend to take the difference in their stride and see if they can appreciate it throughout life. In short, they try and see if they can unwillingly put up the differences or even ignore it for good. And if they come out in this task successfully, they are called as simple, noble people, as diplomats, as people who see the larger picture or as people who live for the greater good. And God forbid again, if they fail to put up living with the differences and eventually burst out someday to become the first kind of persons, they are labelled as actors, back stabbers and worse as hypocrites.

And now, given the knowledge of the above, for years now, I have been left wondering as to what kind of a person should I be ? Should I be someone who is frank, straightforward and carries an attitude or Should I be someone who sees the larger picture, Someone who is for the greater good, is diplomatic and a hypocrite ?

The choice wasn’t easy. It certainly wasn’t. And strangely, it was a ‘choice’. It was a ‘choice’ of being something that I was not. It was a ‘choice’ of being someone that I did not want to be. I had made the ‘choice’.

Knowingly or unknowingly, I had decided to be someone who will live with the differences and appreciate them than express my other side. Wantedly or unwantedly, I had decided to be someone who will withhold the ‘immediate’ expression of my disagreement over any contentious issue. By choice, I decided to be a hyprocrite and give myself time to think of the differences, see the larger picture and greater good.

The question though now remains – Was my choice correct ? If yes, then why is that those words of my friend have left me sleepless for hundreds of nights now ! And also, how long should I be a hypocrite ?

- To be continued -

I Am A Hypocrite, By Choice - Part 2

It was about 2 in the night. I lay on my bed thinking of that very question for hours and hours. Was I right in being a hypocrite ? Was I doing the right thing by not expressing my anguish, dislike for something or someone ? Am I a good person by being a saint on the outside but a horribly ill feeling, fuming person on the inside ?

“Obviously you are not !” , said my mind. “You are not a good person Sai. If you really were to be good, then you should not be feeling bad about anything at all in the first place. No anger, badness or situation should hurt you. No one or no thing should make you feel anything apart from goodness or sweetness. And you yourself know that you are no such saint ! You do feel bad about a lot of things. You do feel bad about a lot of situations. You do feel anger at the ways certain things are dealt with. And so, with a really bad you, your choice of portraying yourself as good was and is absolutely wrong. Take my word Sai, your being a hyprocrite will only hurt you in the long run !” finished my mind.

The thought had hit me hard. I got up from my bed. It was going to be one of those sleepless nights again for sure. Looking for a glass of water, i turned on the table lamp. The cool, neat white light coming from it almost felt like moon light.

And as I picked up the glass to pour water into it from the jug near my cot, the table lamp’s white light fell on the glass forming beautiful rainbow colours on my hand.

“Dear, do you see it ?”, asked my heart.
“See what ?”, my mind said.
“The small little rainbow coming from the glass due to the table lamp’s light”, replied my heart.

I looked for it. Yes, there was a small but beautiful rainbow colours that had formed on my hand.

“Yes, I see it. So what now ? asked my mind a little authoritatively.
“Dear, I feel every human is like that rainbow in his/her heart.”, said my heart softly.
“Huh ? I didn’t understand you”, said my mind.

“Well dear, let us assume for a moment that each of the emotions I feel is expressed by a colour. For instance, let red denote anger, green denote envy, white denote peace and so on and so forth”, said my heart.

“Hmm.. So ?”, asked my mind.

“Well dear, assuming I say I am feeling white now, what would you infer ?”, asked my heart.

“Well, I would like to believe that you are feeling peaceful”, said my mind.

“That is very true. But then white in itself is a composite of 7 different colours. And although it is appearing neat, white and light on the outside, does it mean that it doesn’t have the darker colours of red, green and blue on the inside ?”, asked my heart.

“What are you trying to infer ?”, asked my mind.

“Well, I am not trying to infer anything. But then, I am trying to point out to you that although white appears neat, calm and peaceful on the outside, by your logic it really is hypocritic and a very very bad colour. Isn’t it ? That’s because its real colour is not really white. It contains the darker colours of red, green, blue on the inside which it never shows out”, said my heart.

“That’s stupidity ! Anyways, Can you come straight to the point please ?”, asked my mind with frustration.

“Well dear, like you said, many a times in life, we come across situations in life and more importantly people in those situations, with whom we have a difference of opinion, difference of thoughts, difference of ideologies, difference of approach, difference of attitude, difference of culture or difference of even character. The differences above make us go through and feel so many different emotions, mostly negative ones. And although it is human nature to feel and be affected those emotions, it is upto a priceless possession, the only possession which differentiates us from the rest of living systems on the planet, to determine whether or not we express those emotions out. It is upto that priceless possession to control and ensure we feel neat, calm and unaffected by the hard hitting emotions”

“Priceless possession controlling the emotions ? ! What is that ?”, asked my mind.

“ The priceless possession is you. You the mind”, replied my heart much to the surprise of myself.

“Huh ? Me ?”, asked my mind.

“Yes, you ! It is upto you and your intellect to decide whether or not to follow my ever changing emotions and express the same. That is what all your education is for. That is what all the scriptures are about. And that is what our elders, friends and people have always told us. To not let be carried away by our emotions”, said my heart.

“Hmm, go on”, said my mind.

“Dear, I - the heart, i am like a nuclear reactor. And my emotions whether it be love or hate are like an uncontrolled chain reaction. The situation or person is nothing more than the minimum required thorium to start off the reaction. And once the reaction starts, not even God can stop it from multiplying, no one can stop the energy from building. And if the negative, building up, unstoppable, ever increasing energy is let out, then it causes nothing but destruction. Hope you get the point.”

“Huh ? Energy causing destruction ?? !! The good, noble heart causing destruction ! The sweet heart of everyone ! You consider yourself an equivalent to a nuclear bomb ?? ”, asked my mind a little happy and a lot puzzled.

“You got me wrong. I said I am nuclear reactor and my emotions are like nuclear power. Now, it is upto you to decide what you make of the power from my emotions. You can use your intellect and channel me into a proper energy resource, utilizing it for multiple and good purposes or go ahead thoughtlessly, express it out and destroy others in the process”, replied my heart.

“Hold on ! By that logic, won’t I be destroying myself if I were to keep the energy within myself and keep building it up everytime I see the person or come across the same situation ?”, asked my mind.

“Well dear, that is where true strength, character, goodness and care for a fellow person is really defined. True goodness dear, is not about not feeling bad, but is about having the strength to face what is different and contradictory to you. True goodness lies in having the care to understand the differences, having the character to respect it, the intellect to give yourself the time for digesting it, apart from the vision to ignore it for the greater good and bigger picture. All the situations, persons whom you are not comfortable are nothing more than the minimum required thorium creating radically different emotions. And as weak humans we are bound to feel those emotions. And yet, as good humans we are also bound to ignore them and do what is right even if it means holding ourselves against ourselves. It is like building sheath of lead around your heart to remain unaffected by the building up nuclear power in yourself. You should prevent yourself and use your character to remain unaffected by the potentially destructive energy apart from overcoming it to use it for better and greater purposes”

“But, why should we become so complex when things can be expressed out and sorted out in a much, simpler, straight forward way ! And anyways, I guess the energy that you store within yourself will only explode some day or the other.. So, why not now immediately when things are much more simple and less dangeours ?”

“ If sorting is out only could have been as simple as you said ! As I said, you are dealing with emotions. And to use emotions for dealing with emotions is nothing but aiding the chain reaction dear. As you know, never in the history of mankind, has emotions solved any problems. They have only created decisions. Decisions which we force our intellect to follow. Decisions which we emotionally follow. But we never realise that from wars to peace talks, its only the intellect, work and actions that has resulted in problem solutions. That’s because the problem in itself was the emotion or rather the expression of the same”, said my heart.

“Hmm..” , said my mind.

“And as harsh, cunning and hypocritic it may sound, the best way to go ahead is to understand that to get emotional and feel bad is nothing but being human. But then to check the expression of those emotions and prevent a spill over from happening is what is the responsibility of a wise human. That is what all education is for. That is what all intellect is for. They are to help us decide which emotion to express, when to express, how to express, where to express and what to express. The which, when, how, where and what is primarily the time given to a fellow person as well as yourself to understand the situation and help it become better by mutual cooperation and self intellect, thought processes – not emotions. And if somewhere down the line, the time matures and emotions are expressed, you will be called a hyprocrite for delivering the emotions late and keeping it under wraps all these days. But then the delay in expression of it was for your own and the greater good. It means that you have given yourself as well as the other person and most importantly inconveniences a chance to correct by itself. And I for one passionately and totally believe that humans possess enough intellect to understand & correct themselves and their mistakes over time. Time, friendship, cooperation, love is all they need and for giving them that time, your being a hypocrite is a very very small price to pay” finished my heart.

“I would not still agree with you”, said my mind.

“Hmm, I know. It’s a life long battle Sai. And whether right or wrong, you have always followed me. This is just one more occasion. It is upto you to decide. But then unless you are fully convinced, be a hypocrite. Because years later people’s minds forget the words, the situations, the actions and the decisions you gave them. They will only and only remember forever how you made them feel for what they were.”, replied my heart.

I drank the water and turned off the lights to hit the pillow waiting for sleep.