Fast forward 18 years, and it is the era of blogs and e-books. In the daily grind of studies and a start up job; I had completely forgotten the mesmerizing activity of reading a book. This childhood love of reading a physical book was reignited in the form of an unexpected gift.
I had been recently attending a webinar related to product management. As I heard out the discussions, I raised my own set of questions. As a product manager, I have a habit of being curios and asking queries without inhibitions. This nosiness to learn, has also been a by-product of devouring novels late into the night during my teens. As this eagerness came out in full display, my questions came to the notice of the host, Mr Rahul Abhyankar.
To my amazement, not only did I receive the answers, but also a surprise in the form of a brand new novel. Rahul, on behalf of IPL, rewards questioning people like me, with even more knowledge, that is, in the form of books.
Working in tandem with the diligent product leader, people from his team (Madhurima and Pawan) ensured that the book not only reached me; but was handed over by Rahul himself respectively.
This incident shed light on an entirely new experience. I had never imagined that there could be an entity run by people who ensure a priceless moment for the book receivers. As I drift into the paragraphs of Inseparable Twins; this gift from IPL, has enabled me to take a happy trip down memory lane.
The sun was setting in, leaving behind a crimson blue sky. With the dusk visible through the large windows of our room, we went about organizing a few of the shelves in our cupboard. My two famished sisters took a quick break, to attack the cookies and the piping hot tea brought in by our mother.Meanwhile, an object caught my attention. It was a half torn novel, simply lying at a corner of the mattress I was seated on. I was too young to know the difference between a novel and a book. At that tender age, the only differentiating factor between the two was that a novel was a big, thick book read by adults.
As my retina began scanning the pages respectively, I felt a sensation I had never experienced earlier. I began melting into the paragraphs! My hands steadied, my eyes widened, my nostrils engaged with the delightful old rusty smell of the pages; as I lost track of time. The book simply got me hooked. It would be much later when I would realize how Enid Blyton had captured the imagination of millions of kids all around the world. None the less, the moment was the first time I felt the true power of stories.
My eldest sister noticed the sudden wavering of my attention, from assisting them to reading. She eventually realized that I had not only begun understanding relatively complex stories, but was also enjoying them. Proud of her little brother, the very next day, she opened a drawer and exposed me to a huge collection of her favorite novels. And, this was how my love for reading began.
I sat down with a thud on the bench, enduring a pursuit that had drained me in my entirety. The afternoon sun shone down strongly on the thickly forested area. The autumn leaves stretched out in full glory, filtering the sunlight to a bearable warmth. Butterflies glittered, as they made their way around the dark olive brown branches.
I loftily looked up into the sky, as an inner calmness began to spread within me. My chest heaved with deep breaths, as I tried regaining my lost energy. A chemical reaction began, soaking in the pure golden energy of the sun; as it excited the molecules within me. The whispering of the leaves acted as a catalyst, as I descended into the comforts of freedom and achievement.
Jump into the Unknown
I shall roll back time to a few hours earlier. I was up and about, performing tasks like any other day. I was on an outing at Nandi hills, Bangalore with my colleagues. I woke up early to meet a dense foggy morning on the hillside. I jumped into the pool to make the best of the few moments I had for swimming. Eventually, I attacked a huge breakfast, taking to it as a poor man would to a morsel of bread. I wondered out loud to my friends, about the sun dazzling too brightly on such a beautiful day. I set out with my team, assuming we were headed towards a light hearted group activity. Little did I know that I would get the wind knocked out of me.
I was tasked with climbing and clearing a track of 7 bridges. The tracks were constructed using nylon based ropes and coarse cables, which was professional grade stuff. The bridges would have been a few feet high. Additionally, I had been provided with the complete safety gear.
As I proceeded towards the first bridge, I unfortunately had the devil accompany me. It reared it’s ugly head in the form of fear of heights. This appeared to be a cakewalk for the remaining troupe. But, it was paralyzing to me. I was simply unable to take the first step! The instructor motivated me not to give in to my fear. A thought passed to my surprised self. I had swum in wavy beaches without batting an eyelid. But the thought of being a few feet high had shaken my very core. I felt like a point on the Y axis of a graph, where I could slide down the axis easily; but was not able to negotiate moving up the line.
I took a couple of steps forward. And lo and behold, I was hanging mid air with just half a step firmly planted. I clung to the rope for dear life. The instructor had to eventually accompany the first few steps with me. I grimaced at myself and gingerly moved ahead.
A Slow Move
As I started on the fourth bridge, I had to retreat back to take rest. My right hand shivered vigorously, an after effect of the extreme mental pressure I had embraced! As I picked myself up, I could hear my companions shouting out loud. Up till my turn, none had taken such a dismal amount of time to traverse the path.
While a couple of them motivated me, a few cracked jokes on my upcoming fall. They did it in good jest, unaware of the internal turmoil I was undergoing. But, I utilized it as fuel to deploy a razor sharp focus to my steps.
Over the second last bridge, I was targeting to cross over a thin cable with ropes dangling above my head. I was half way through when my body began giving up. My strength began perishing as I loosened my grip, unable to stand. I knew I could simply tune off in the luxury of pushing myself to do something unfathomable. And I began letting go of myself as my brain told me that I would not be able to take it any more…
I caught something from the corner of my eye. My silhouette was staring back a few feet from me. It seemed contently settled amidst the thick bushes, with young wild flowers impishly gathered around it.
Kaboom!, came the sound, as my cortisol kicked in. It prodded my inner entrepreneur, urging me to finish those last few steps. I pushed myself, thereby surviving to tell about the beauty I had witnessed.
In the swimming pool, I had my way with the water, as I tamed it with my strokes. But on the ropes, I was stripped naked with nothing but fear. Man has always utilized his biological fight or flight response. It enabled pushing evolution to the limit, thereby giving birth to fire, and many other such products which have become priceless to our existence.
This endowed me with a heavy sense of accomplishment. I was able to carry the baton our greatest of forefathers had handed over to me. I was also able to tick off another item to my checklist because of the chance given by mycurrent organization.
In turn, I would like signing off with the following words –
Don’t pray for an easy life, pray for the strength to endure a tough one.