Saturday, September 1, 2012
Little Ajay felt like a piece of charcoal set on fire. It was 42 degrees but the humidity made it feel like 60 degrees. Ajay, all of 7 yrs old stood in his father’s field, sowing seeds. “Monsoons will be here soon son” his father had told him but Ajay wondered if it would ever come because right now there wasn’t a single cloud in sight. But he didn’t argue because for him his father was always right. He continued sowing seeds with his hand pulled cart. His family of 3 brothers & 2 sisters depended on this lone acre of land for their livelihood. Though Ajay was small, it didn’t take him long to realise that they weren’t well off. He hadn’t been sent to school, neither were his siblings except for his elder sister who taught them at home. They had 5 bullocks which were now being used by his father & brothers & so he was sowing with his hand pulled cart. It was hard work!
Ajay watched other kids walk through his streets playful & cheerful, he wished he was with them right now but he had to finish his work first. But what he loved the most was watching the march & guard of honor every evening at the Indo Pak border. That was what he loved the most about living in Ladakh. Never did he miss the ritual. Every evening he would join 100s of other tourists & watch with awe as the soldiers of india & Pakistan partake in the evening parade & bring the flags of the respective countries. He dreamt of becoming a soldier. He had heard many stories of braveries at war from his father & his single dream was to join the army which at the moment seemed far away in this blistering hot summer afternoon as sweat poured down his face. He was soaking wet! He watched as a bunch of crows gathered around the sowed area, he at once took his slingshot & aimed hard & smack hit a crow with a stone which dropped dead. He was proud of himself & patted his own back as he knew he had a good aim. “Only drive them away, don’t kill them!!!” His father screamed from the other side of the field. “No ways” Ajay thought to himself but didn’t say it loud.
Every morning Ajay would wake up at 5 in the morning and rush through the village with 6 cartons in hand selling milk which happened to be another source of income for the family. Sweat poured from his forehead, down his face to the nape of his neck down soaking his shirt wet. But he wouldn’t complain. After all he was helping his family. Even at the age of 7 he considered himself the man of the family & wanted to do his best to contribute to the family savings. At 8 AM when most of the other kids were just waking up, Ajay would finish his morning chore round the entire village & be back home. His mom would reward him with a steaming cup of chai & idli sambar. He loved idli sambar, especially when it was steaming hot & also coz there wasn’t much of a choice
Years went by and at the age of 18 Ajay finally managed to get into the army. His dream had come true. He was filled with pride to serve the nation. But nothing in life comes easy & nobody knew it better than him. His entire life had been a struggle. Others struggled with the Army routine but Ajay didn’t mind it. His single minded dedication was on his goal & that was to serve his country. Day & night he toiled to be a jawan just like how he had done all these years on his fathers fields. Soaking wet in the summer sun, soaking wet in the rains, nothing could dampen his spirits. One day on the shooting range the colonel noticed Ajay. BANG BANG!… two incredible shots almost hitting the bulls eye. BANG!…another one. “who is this boy?” he asked one of his juniors. “That’s Ajay Kumar sir. He’s a pretty good shot” said his subordinate.“Keep an eye on him, he’s got potential” the Colonel said
It was a blistering hot summer day. Ajay looked up at the sun, it seemed to him like the sun would burn him into ashes. Ajay remembered being in the field when he was 7. Today he was 22. Sweat trickled down his spine. His India jersey was soaking wet. He was used to this heat but not used to the occasion. He looked around, people behind him were screaming his name. Was it real? Were these people actually cheering him? Why would they be cheering a poor little village boy? He was no movie star, nor a cricketer, nor a singer. But still these people kept chanting his name. SILENCE screamed someone which woke Ajay from his thoughts. He looked ahead. There it was, in front of him. Multiple circles with numbers on them .. his target! He needed a score of 9.89.He raised his rifle, his lips murmured a silent prayer, he looked at the target, it was now or never! He remembered that crow which unfortunately had its head blown off back when he was a kid, he remembered the numerous targets he had destroyed back in his army shooting range. Bang…… it was done. His hands were cold & numb though sweat poured all over. He looked at the judge. He had done it!!!! Ajay Kumar had just won the Olympic gold in shooting. He sunk to the ground as the whole nation erupted. The simple village boy was now a national hero overnight. That same village boy was now the best shooter in the universe. He stood on the podium & tears trickled down his face as the Indian National Anthem was played. He was proud!
How different the world is when you achieve something. Ajay came back home to a hero’s welcome. Ministers came to receive him. There was a time when he couldn’t go to school & had to work in the fields, sell milk. His neighbours in his village told their children “that was the boy who used to bring milk to our house every morning, look where he has reached now!” The 4 yrs prior to the Olympics were the toughest. He didn’t have the equipments that his foreign counterparts had. He practised with the army rifle which was at best primitive. His father had to sell part of his land to get him better equipment, the army helped him too. Today it was different. When he landed at the airport there was an endless sea of people who had come to just a glimpse of him. Everyone wanted to know who Ajay Kumar was. The Govt awarded him 1 crore. Advertising agencies came to him. The army promoted him to the post of a Major. They said he could retire from his Army immediately & enjoy his success. But Ajay refused. He wasn’t in the Army because he was forced to, he was in it because he loved it. He had to soak no more in the sun but he chose to do it. He wanted to give back to the army all the support that the army had given him during his days of struggle, he wanted to give his country , his everything! Because that was his passion. Because he was a real Olympic champion.
THIS ARTICLE IS AN ENTRY IN THE SOAK NO MORE CONTEST ON INDIBLOGGER