Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Leap.

It seems so achievable yet such a task. How often has dad told me to walk up to it without any fear, to look it square in the eye and just take the leap. I never really listened to him. I mean, I did. But applying it was a whole different thing. It had become about reaching new heights and surpassing milestones. Dad was not the kind to push me very hard, always just that encouraging nudge. But today it was a bit more coercive and it really shocked me.
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.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Time.

I sit up straight in my bed. I am sweating a tad more than the usual. I rummage around on my small night table for my glasses. I put them on to see that it is just about sunrise time. I look around for Cindy, my beloved wife. Not seeing her anywhere, I presume she must already be at church. She had an early morning mass routine that despite age and sickness never shifted. I slowly get out of bed and reach over for my walking stick by the wall. I stick my hand into my glass of water and plop my dentures into my mouth before I make my way to the bathroom. The early morning businesses needed my fleeting attention. I was never much of a fan of brushing, flossing and cleaning. But Cindy would through a mad fit of rage if my dentures didn’t look their shiny best and I do not like to make her angry.

I feel more disturbed than the ordinary today. I stare at my reflection in the mirror while I grip the basin with one hand. A few more wrinkles I chuckle to myself. I concentrate hard to recollect last night’s dreams. But considering how disturbed I feel it was probably a nightmare. Unfortunately nothing concrete visualizes. I hope my routine morning walk will spark things up. I hurriedly make the bed, fluff the pillows, turn off the fan before grabbing the keys and wearing my shoes. I pull the door behind me and stagger off down my driveway.

Cindy and I will be married this spring for 60 years and we have lived in the same house all through. Our kids have walked, fallen and run on this very driveway before growing up and going places. We have come a long way since our initial years of crazy love and parenthood. Fond, warm memories of Cindy come rushing back to me as I coincidentally cross paths to the church.

I walk on past it tapping my stick along to a well known rhythm in my head. I finally reach my rejuvenation spot, a bench in the nearby park. I land myself on the bench and I am left gasping for my breath. My old age is really catching on and I better admit it. I look around at the sun rising, the early morning breath of pure nature is breathtakingly energizing.

The park is pretty deserted except a couple of lone joggers, some brisk walkers and a sprinkle of pregnant mothers all getting in some exercise before the sun makes itself comfortable in the sky. They all seemed pretty charged and probably had only just arrived a while before me. The park is one of my favorites because of the lack of noise and the sensible crowd of adults that trickle in. It always ensures my bench experience stays pleasant.

The trees looked to be shedding their way to autumn. I gaze at a nearby tree, its huge astounding charisma regardless of the age and the present nearly dry state. Beneath its mighty branches is a small pile of brownish yellow leaves. However, the tree is still bearing a couple of piles more. As I watch the tree a small breeze blows, few more leaves detach and drift to the ground. It all reminded me of the ever constant change. Change in my life over the decades, change in this tree in the past few minutes, change. It happens to everything and everyone I deduce. But dealing with it has never been easy, for me at least. I watch on as the tree faces the steady change of season as it persists standing tall with its eternal beauty never reducing. The tree embraces change making it seem so effortless and conquerable.

As I pick up my head, still swimming in these thoughts I see Cindy walking towards me in her familiar flowery gown and smile lit face and I realize the strength she brings to me with her overwhelming presence. As she sits down next to me and our smiles do all the talking, I am just left feeling glad that we, Cindy and I, lived on and grew old together. Despite every change and the storms of time.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Simple things.

She walked into her room, gently lifted the aquarium off the table and placed it on the floor. She sat cross legged on the floor peeping into her aquarium with excitement and awe. Her aquarium was unlike others. She had hand picked the members of it and it was a strange assortment. She had two turtles, three snails, a couple of gold fish, shiny black pebbles, clear water and a small mound of sand with a bridge to reach it. It was a square tank, quite big but essentially not heavy and an easily portable one. She usually placed it on her night table by her head, throughout most of the day and all night. But everyday she has a habit of placing it on the floor to look inside. Her beady eyes gleamed with joy every time a turtle surfaced onto its little island. And with marvel each time a snail fell off the walls and into the water. Or just intrigue when a fish nibbled on the colourful pellets. Remarkably, she never went a day without her staring session and absolutely never forgot to feed them. She peeped into it each day with the same warmth as the previous. Her thrill of watching them failed to make any sense to me. I never probed or intruded to understand. I just let her be. Her fascination I thought would fade away with time. If not, someday I hope to be able to see through her eyes.
It's been 2 years, 3 months and around a week and a half since we first went to the pet store. Fishes have bellied up and been replaced, snails have shriveled and the turtles have grown, but her everyday routine has not altered even a bit. She still sits and ogles.
She never threw a tantrum when she found one of them belly up. She calmly ran up to me and told me that another one has moved on. That first time, I was perplexed to have to decode to her the cryptic circle of life. But her insight left me astounded. She didn't need my help at all. Either her reason shined through, never for a moment tarnishing her innocence. Or she knew better than to scrutinize it.
At that tender age of 6, she taught me to let life run its course. Sometimes maybe we need to look closely to attempt to understand those complexities. But finally somethings will never be in our control and others will remain a mystery. And that is the simple truth.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

The possibilities.

I stare out the window and imagine how different it must look at night. Dark and scary? Or will the vision with sunlight keep me unnerved? Something very mysterious about the dark though. There is always the possibility of a surprise ready to pounce. Well, I grew up with that illusion at least. I say grew up like I am all old. Long way for that Mia. You are just 16, I try to pacify myself. But it works only temporarily.
However, there is some truth in the fact that it is not just the years gone by. On the other hand it is the experiences and lessons of these years. Some of us see the world baring itself to us, while some haven't even started on the path of self discovery. And that sets us all apart.
I look past the three dimensional world, to explore a realm of the world, in my hearts mind. I instantly see beautiful white angels hovering around, cupid with his bows and arrows firing away, fairies in their pretty dresses flying about and suddenly all seems right. The energy in me now feels more positive and vibrant. I like this. No, I love this.
I held onto this vibe with a determination of an impressive kind. I close my eyes and let it spread through every cell, every molecule in me. I open my eyes again and I cant help but smile. I smile at the feeling, so clear, pure and distinct. Such positivity is a pleasant surprise.
A shrill voice on the speaker breaks into my thoughts and snaps me out of this rare mood. The lady announces that we are preparing for landing. I look out my window again. The clouds are reluctantly moving far away, the landscape sluggishly materializes. My wishful world is now a realm above. A realm I felt for the first time on my first flight.
The heights, the clouds, the separation from anything real and mundane, gives you the sensational feel of the existence of a parallel world. A world that fulfills blazing hopes and the most outrageous imaginations. A world that surpasses all natural feeling and breaks all superstitious barriers to let you believe. To let you actually live.