Monday, September 28, 2009

I pull, You pull, We Pull...

When you belive in something, nothing can stop you. The fire that burns within is strong enough to vanquish the strongest of oppositions. At that moment of glory, nothing and nobody can beat you. That is the power of self- belief.

One such occasion embraced Jimmy and his buddies a few years back. The annual college sports fests were on in full swing and the kids of the "ABC" dept, the one to which Jimmy belonged, were giving the rest of the depts a run for their money. From absolute nothingness up and until last year, they were rising from the ashes and winning almsot everything. Obviosuly, this lead to abc dept being at the top of the points table on day 4 of this 10 days long sporting extragavanza. And the next event to take place was "Tug of War." Though a very short event, it commanded a lot of hype and publicity. One reason for this was that ut an absolutely intense, high testosterone levels game. But more than that, as it was held in the centre area of the college, it commanded the maximum audience. The shouting, clammering, egging on transformed the place into a battlefield. Anyone present there would have been elevated to a new level of higher consciousness where only your instincts work. Jimmy and his friends, were no different.

The abc dept consisted of a bunch of average built guys who if you looked at, really didn't garner much excitement for a game like tug of war. They maybe would have given a tough fight but were simply not tough enough to win. And to add to that, since they were against the "XYZ" dept, they really didn't stand a chance. The xyz dept had been the outright winners for the past three years(year before that it was abc) and before that too, it was mostly xyz winning this event. Thus, it was an apt seeding done. The best against the worst in the first round. The outcome of this contest was a no brainers,everybody thought. The hefty, muscular xyz guys were gonna rought the poor, average abc kids in no time. [There is something inane about watching a helpless person being cornered even more. No matter how much we deny, we all love to feed on such situations. Watching someone being overpowered calls for a great sight for all of us. We are all really a bunch of saddists leaving in an optimistic world built on hope] The crowd too, expected that this thing was gonna get over before it started. And though abc had its fair share of supporters cheering them on,they too were sceptical of their team's chances today. Passion is a good thing but it really cannot help you win everytime, they felt..... So, with a resigned voice, they started to cheer them.

Things too,didn't take of well for Jimmy & Co.

A few days before, during one of the practice sessions, Jimmy had hurt his right foot’s sole. A stone had pierced into his leg, leaving behind a a large hole which was profousely bleeding. A few days on, now on the tug of war day, the wound had healed considerably but any tickle to it meant the freshness of the wound would expose its weakness again. Jimmy was the main stay of the cricket team and he couldn’t risk injuring himself any further. But fate always plans otherwise. J Jimmy was still limping. The wound pricked with every step that he took. Apart from this, the cement surface on which the competition was held had worn out and was piping hot cuz of the afternoon sun. If one had to give 100% in tug of war, one had to play bare foot. Playing bare foot gave way to a lot of permuations and combinations on how you could hurt yourself. And this all was too big a risk to take for Jimmy.

The total weight of the entire team was to not exceed 520 kgs. Miraclously, the hefty,well fed xyz guys totaled exactly 520. They all were weighing almost the same, with the Anchor(The person in the last to whom the rope is tied) being slightly heavier. On the other hand, Team ABC totaled 519 with Irvin and 520 with Jimmy. Team abc had gone with the strategy of a very heavy anchor and the most muscular person in the front, unlike the even distribution of weights by Team XYZ. They also decided upon keeping Jimmy in the reserve for the 2nd and 3rd rounds, this being a best of 3 event. So, Jimmy, weighing 66(back then) was in the reserves and Irvin, weighing 65 was in. Things were indeed this bad. They had fielded the best possible team from their dept. And with Jimmy injured, things were a bit less promising now. And true to everyone present’s expectations, the 1st round went to XYZ. Though ABC did put up a good fight, we all know, a chain is only as strong as its weakest link. Irvin could hardly hold onto the rope. His breath gave away very easily. Before the heads of the team and its supporters dropped any further, Jimmy decided he had had enough. His instincts(those wonderful things) were working in over drive mode. And he simply said,” I am coming instead of Irvin.” He didn’t care if Irvin felt bad or what the heck. Irvin, too, knew what he had done and gladly stepped aside. And even the others. And even the others, couldn’t say a no to Jimmy. They simply never had said a no to him. In the ABC dept back then, what Jimmy said, was the final word. You never challenged it cuz you knew, Jimmy is thinking in the best interest of everybody. So from round 2, Jimmy jumped in. And alongwith him, the entire band of supporters too got psyched up; though they were still skeptical about their team’s chances. But nonetheless, they somehow got themselves too keep the hope. One of his friends had once(and still does) said to Jimmy, "Nothing's Impossible for you buddy. You can make anything happen. With you around, we are never short of inspiration." That friend,Vicky was in the crowd that day, cheering them on. And yes, so was Gina.[And yes, Jimmy remembers everything about how she was looking,feeling,what her eyes spoke,etc etc. stuff Jimmy always tends to remember from every moment he spent with her... Silly Jimmy!!! :) ]

The surface on which the competition was held had taken a severe beating. Wearing shoes meant you had lesser control on your feet movement. Being barefoot gave you the liberty to somehow fit your legs in the cracks and holes that had developed. You could easily constrict your feet and hold tight to the ground. With the shoes on, this thing couldn't be done. Many of them however,on both the teams, didn't desire to do so cuz going bare foot almost surely meant the skin of your sole getting burnt and scrathed and bruised. No one was willing to take that risk. They simply didn't feel it was a good return on their investments. All this while, Jimmy's instincts were working in the background and a voice from within was telling him,"Take the shoes out dude ! You know how slippery they are. Don't worry about the wound. It has healed up and won't be much of a bother." So, Jimmy, heeding his inner voice did so. Some were surprised at what he was doing but he convinced them all by saying, it's not that serious. The wound has healed now. Like I said before, Jimmy's word was final.

Jimmy has this distinctive style of wrapping the rope around his forearms. That way, he says, it gives him even more grip[though it shortened the length of their rope, which can be disatorous sometimes]. Jimmy had occupied the third position in the chain, standing there like the main connector between the people in front and those at the back. The whistle blew. The pulling began. Both the sides, were giving their absolute best. After a while, it seemed like the xyz guys were gonna win this one now with abc literally running out of steam. But like they say, the best things happen when you least expect them to. All of a sudden, there was a sudden surge from abc's side. From God alone knows where, they were able to pull the xyz guys towards them. They were simply not understanding from where this force was coming cuz they all had literally downed their efforts. Or so it seemed..... Somehow, inch by inch, they managed to pull their oppostion towards them and more importantly towards that all important middle line.... And it happened !!! Just Like that !!! Before, they could recover, the refree blew the whistle and said," Round goes to ABC." Everyone around, totally shocked and stunned was simply not able to do,say,feel anything for a moment. And then all of a sudden, the entire premise lets out a Huge roar. They simply couldn't belive their eyes. The ABC team went beserk, shouting,abusing, going absolutely crazy. They were returning the favor to the xyz folks now. A sense of belief filled them up and they now,once again switched sides for the third round. It was perhaps history in the making but it was still too early to tell. Jimmy, felt a slight throbbing in his injured leg at the exact spot where he was hurt but since he was not limping and since they had won a round, he felt, it was really nothing to worry about. Gina, though knew, something was wrong cuz she was perhaps the only one to notice in that entire frenzy and maddness, Jimmy as he was walking, was leaving little spots of blood behind.....

The teams now positioned themselves for the third round. Jimmy and the anchor,Sunny are absolute video game freaks. Jimmy owned a PSP and Sunny always wanted to play with one. Jimmy had promised him earlier that if he gave his 100% in the tug of war, he could have the PSP. Jimmy,not one to forget what he says easily, reminded Sunny of the PSP and the way he put the message across was nothing less than a coach inspiring his disciple to go for the kill. Many around found it funny, but Jimmy and Sunny, knew what they were doing. Jimmy remembers seeing in Sunny's eyes, the fire lit up when he reminded him about the PSP. Silly kids !! But they are mad about video games. Anyways, the refree now asked the teams to get ready now. Jimmy stationed at position three, kept reminding Sunny about the PSP, who was some 20 feet behind and the last(cuz he was the anchor). Something was telling Jimmy, Sunny was the only one who was gonna fight till the end in this round,even after he himself had given up. The whistle blew and the intensity was set into motion once again. This time, the noise from the crowd was much louder than before. There were now more people cheering ABC on. And the voices only kept getting louder with the second. The two teams, nothing short of committment, were also full of abusive words as well. It was the best way to stay focussed in the game. The tussle,too, this time was much more intense than previous occasions. Both teams were simply not ready to give up. The burly, xyz folks had a lot at stake. The average abc bloks,the underdogs, from simply nowhere, were churning out every bit of imaginagle and un imaginable strength they had. The pulling went on for more than a minute, the longest ever, and still, there was no sign of giving up from either side. But somehow, it was seeming just a bit too much for the average kids from abc to hold onto. The xyz kids were just too strong and after a minute of intense pulling,slowly, their strength was giving away.... Or so it seemed...... Jimmy, who was still giving the best he possibly could on three limbs, was the first to realize this weakening. And tug of war, though a team game, once you are in the motion, you simply cannot turn around and inspire others. The only one you can inspire is yourself. Without thinking anything further, Jimmy let out a very loud cry(I think, he actually abused) and pulled with all that he could(it was the last straw). And he kept on shouting, kepting on letting out a war cry all the while. He had learnt from his Martial Arts' practise days, that letting out a war cry would lower the flow of blood to the heart momentarily for the opposition. He was simply acting on all that his instincts were thinking[He was a slave of his thoughts at that moment... How he wishes it always is this way...]. There was no stopping him, he simply kept on developing a crescendo of his voice as he kept pulling. Jimmy didn't feel it, but later on, onlookers told him, that it seemed like he was the only one pulling from his team for those last 30 secs. And finally, the moment came for which everyone was waiting for.... The whistle blew again and the refree said,"ABC wins." This time, there was no momentary silence. The crowd erupted with a tremendously loud decible. The average kids had done the unthinkable, the impossible. The crowd had gone simply mad at the sight of this. Team ABC, too, had gone crazy. They were hugging each other,punching the air,banging their chests, lifting each other....all the great things men do when the win[The joy of winning is indeed amazing to say the least]. Jimmy, as soon as the whistle blew, fell down on his knees and let out the strongest of war cry till then. He too knew, they had done the impossible. He actually was unable to speak and so like all the others was simply shouting for a few seconds. When the initial excitment died down, the handshakes happened cuz a match like this generated respect for both the sides competing. Along with this, the waning of the initial excitment and noise made Jimmy realize(yes you guessed it right) that his left leg was throbbing very heavily. Jimmy shuddered now, he did not want to see what had happened down there... He was constantly looking for Gina in that crowd, to reassure him that everything is alright, but he had somehow lost her.... He was on his own there, helpless. Helpless I say cuz everyone was either too happy or too sad to bother about anything else. And sooner than later, Jimmy had to face the truth. A Bloody truth. What Jimmy saw, could have fainted any weak heart. The wound, due to the non stop beating and rubbing against the cement surface for the past five minutes or so, had exfoliated into a terrible blood dripping mess. The small stone particles infused deep into the skin were not helping much either. It was now starting to pain, rather Jimmy realized it was paining all this while. Thankfully for Jimmy, everyone around quickly noticed what was wrong and helped him to a place to sit. Andy, one of his good friends from back then was quick to get some anti septic and cotton and rub it over there. Everyone around was now a bit sombre to see what had happened to their hero. But still, Jimmy laughed it off and that eased things a bit. On one side of him was Andy and the other side was Gina. Andy was helping Jimmy wash the dirt and dust off the wound. Gina, who knew what was coming, simply couldn't hide her apprehension. It was all showing in her eyes. Like any concerned love would, she gently touched near the place of the wound to see how much damage had Jimmy's passion caused him. Seeing this Jimmy got angry. Angry cuz, he did not want Gina to touch that bloddy mess of his. She seeing it was more than enough. She shouldn't even see him in pain, he felt and here she was, so near to him,when he actually wanted her to stay away from it all cuz he didn't want her to see him in that state. He obviosuly got angry on her and Jimmy still remembers how quietly Gina took her hands back and just sat there, watching, motionless.....

P.S: The celebrations did not last long. Abc was accused of using some sort of unfair means to win the match. So a rematch was held. This time, the half depleted ABC team lost without a fight. They were too disraught to put up a fight. Xyz, proceeded to win the finals of tug of war even that year. Jimmy,obviously, couldn't participate again. It was not that he did not want to but he could not. Jimmy's late grand mother was counting her last and just the day after the tug of war match, Jimmy had to rush to meet her. This meant Jimmy was not gonna return for another seven days i.e until the last day of the fest. This decision proved decisive. ABC's performance in other disciplines also reduced. They simply didn't have that fire power left anymore to give it their all. Eventually, they slipped from their High's of being the top team till day 3 to being 3rd overall on the last day. However, What goes around,comes around. The next year, they were the Top team. :)

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