We drive in utter silence, quite normal conversation for us both. However, today his eyes were doing all the talking and more. They shone with resolve. He seems set on giving me that urge to believe, to make me see through his eyes. He did give me strength. Naturally, I doubt how long it would linger before being blown out by my cynicism. He seems more positive than me and it was apparent in his cheering smile. His emotions had come to the fore clearly and it shook me up. He believed in me. He believed I could do it and that it would be me who would be victorious.
Unfortunately, I give in to my fear too often. I get muddled in what ifs and what not and all my hard earned vigor comes to a staggering halt. We continue on our journey, still in that silent daze. I didn’t need to close my eyes to see his eyes radiating hope. Our drive finally comes to an end, so I turn to him and smile. He gently pats my back as he drops me off and solemnly wishes me luck. My smile broadens as I step out of the car. He never came to watch but he never failed to drop me off. It made him too nervous to stay and watch, I assume.
I walk in with a tiny bit of confidence, shaking cause of my nerves and place my bag down. I sit down and pull out my running shoes. I change into them and stay sitting on the ground for a while, still swamped by my anxieties. I need some movement I realize. I get up, warm my body and stretch a bit. I see the other girls doing the same with thrice as much confidence. I must look quite hopeless. I feel like it at least.
Soon I hear the announcement in a gruff male voice demanding the attention of the women in my section. I jog up to the reporting stand. On checking the names I find mine right on top. “Great”, I mutter to myself. I jump to calm myself, start walking to give myself a run up, simultaneously preparing myself, mentally for a few practice jumps. I steady myself, start running, step on the plate and jump. They obviously don’t measure these. I repeat my routine twice more before they are ready for us. “Under-17 national selections for Long jump girls. 12 candidates but only 2 will be selected”, the voice booms through the speakers.
We had all practiced hard and waited in baited breath for this day. And it all came down to three jumps. “Nina Lawson”, the speaker literally roars. The sound of the go whistle follows my name, indicating its time I give it my first shot. I jump up, close my eyes for just a milli second and I see a vision of my dad’s eyes. It gives me a sudden boost of energy reeling me into my most confident state of mind.
I set my eyes on the pit as I run as fast as I can, step on the plate before flawlessly taking that huge leap and land in the pile of sand with a sigh. They measure as I walk back for my run up. Though my name followed by my jump resounds through the air, I pay no heed as a gear up for jump two. I just repeat my routine again and again.
6.43 m; I am later told is my best out of the three. These three jumps are probably my best jumps till date. Not just in length but the emotions enveloping them. It was like a leap of faith. And it felt just perfect.
Even if I hadn’t made it to the national team, today would have been one of the most prized days of my life. After the years of practice and hardwork invested in it, along with the hours of brooding over it, it all came down to that look in his eyes. The one that simply stated, better than any language probably would, that he has faith. Pure unwavering faith in me.