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For all I know, the race was going to be the mother of all.

I knew it since I watched being discussed endlessly and was being speculated to be a fight between yellow and green for the Cock House finish. The winner would claim and kiss the coveted Cock-House trophy for being the overall winner. The mounting desire that each cadet nurtured to out do each other was no hidden secret and I was no exception. Thus everyone got readied for this one last test. Route familiarization, rehearsals, strategies, pairings, were all being carried out with utmost precision.

The Race It was a run the entire school was looking forward to. Passion was at its pinnacle before the annual cross country race of the school. On the wave of the flag I set out, sprinted towards the end of the parade ground, got onto the main road that rolls down a steep incline towards the school gate. My secret aim was of reaching the defile which unfolds along the canal, first. I had my task cut out and was all set to execute it with precision unmindful of the physical pain. From now on I would whimper no more, and I felt one with Pheidippides of Greece with a message to deliver, doubt no more of my grit and resolve. I wouldn’t need no energy gels, no fluids,just a bit of cheering from the stands for one knew that the road taken accords no preferences or hindrances to the venturers chasing their dreams. Each one of us knew what lay in store was exquisite torture till the end, but on their own  will power each was trained to fend.

The-Old-Gateway-of-Sainik-School-Kazhakootam The towering eucalyptuses, the intermittently planted stout cashew trees on the wasteland below, sprouting bramble growths on the way side, even the ditches and potholes en route  – all seemed to be amusing wayside markers ushering me on.The route turned towards the left past the majestic school gate that stood immersed in blue and just before the black asphalted road hit the turn towards the town, an orange mud path wound through the coconut groves alongside a canal allowing you the right of way.

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This picturesque natural abundance is followed by the climb onto the barren hill, right at the place from where the Ammumma kada is just barely at the tree line. There I climbed the uphill scouting ahead with a hungry Yellow in tow and reached the level, leaving the pump house and the Officers’ quarters behind, where the final struggle was to unfold. I was sticking to my lessons right. Ask more and your body gives you more. Mind commands and the body adapts in line to its unending demands.

The attainment of triumph, the soul’s unwavering want was just strides away. The cheers fell on my listening ears pepping me up to gallop even fast, the finish line. I needed more and for more I did duel. Duel with my instincts and the will to conquer. Clear blue skies, pearly clouds and the setting sun. The world seemed so perfect and life so beautiful. Flexing muscles demanded more blood flow. Burned up oxygen to edge forward left me gasping for breath. And then, a bolt of pain that streaked up my calf, left me limping a bit. It didn’t take much time to change to tearing pain, and along with it a riot of questions thrown up in my mind went unanswered. I drew blank.

My castle of dreams came crushing down leaving no trace. Holding my hamstring I bent down, bowed down, limped a bit, hopped a bit and stopped. Dejected I watched the Yellow pass by. At that I tried to collect myself but my spirits would fail me. With the finishing line in sight I sat there on the wayside.

From there I saw him turnaround and stride. Is he confused, is he lost, I wondered? He strode and reached up to where I hunkered. He hooked me on his shoulders and exhorted.”Buddy, move on! Let’s walk a bit and then run a bit. Let’s finish this bloody race.” At that moment, the shades of Yellow and Green paled out. What remained in its place was this indiscernible but immaculate shine of brotherhood and friendship. This is dedicated to the spirit of elite clan of Kazhaks who are ever ready to walk a mile with a buddy in need.

Ben E King’s Stand By Me, re-interpreted by The Song Around the World Project.

8 Responses

  1. see,
    what a great fall!!
    Up from the coconut tree straight onto the print and in company of stars.
    thanx paudi for the daily update though not daily!!
    thanx brown for sharing.

  2. hi vijay,
    No need to feel apologetic about pauldi. I think this episode would have hardened his resolve. Beggar is an ace cross country runner now.
    in the league of “Evan aalu puliya”. SAI trained, airforce team captain and what not.
    Last heard him, he was up a coconut tree in the tsunami struck andaman with his laptop.
    i hope he would climb down and enlighten us with his latest exploits soon.

  3. Dinesh/Prince,

    I was the in that gang which never took part but was more tired than many who took part.My role was to encourage runners, so we used to stand near the area where school forests started. By then runners were tired so I used to push our tired runners, run with them ofcourse supported by many others. Then once that runner got back on track focus on the next one from our house and so on. I remember Paul Davis who later won award for cross country race had found the runner within him and was challenging previous years winner Sunil Kuruvilla. Kuruvilla was expecting no competition and did not practice as usual, but for the unthu and thallal (push) by all of us non particpants there was no way Kuruvilla would ve won. Finally we managed to get Kuruvilla to hold on the first place. Still sometimes feel apologetic about Pauldi:)))

  4. hi dinesh,

    On a hind thought that is a better way of running the run.

    Using a bit of cool brain power you can do away with uncool will power, shoulders to lean, Sprains etc. so very nice.

  5. Good reading Boss. but what about the rest of them (the faint hearted) who always looked ways to skip the race with the excuse of sprained leg, head ache etc.

  6. satchi,

    Actually I had way more than one person in mind while writing this and for that matter i am sure each one of us would have had this experience of helping each other out both on and off cross country route.

    Taking the liberty of echoing for each of us (if i may be allowed), i recollect the innumerable cross country races, that took place in the school, while we were there, whether practice or actual, had this intense and laudable samaritan drama being played out and thats what had had leaft this unerasable memories, of comraderie and friendship within all of us. The list am sure would fill into volumes. And thats what make us all proud to be a kazhakian.

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