The Eternal Journey

The Eternal Journey

A Second Chance...

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As I finished reading the first script of my autobiography, I sat pondering on the introductory note to this masterpiece of mine. Should I talk about the indefatigable human rights activist in me? No. that may not sound an impressive start. Let me talk about my successful professional career. Hmmm.. wait. There's no fun in playing a spoilsport to my own autobiography. Family Life?? No. My stint with sports? or a summary of them all?? No.

I sat glancing at the distant hills, a scenic view from my balcony, trying to find serenity amidst the pool of thoughts running in my mind. And then emerged one dating back to 1974. 'What could be a better start than this?' I thought. And I started writing the First piece, last. 

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89, 90, 90, 20, 85, 89. Keep guessing what these numbers could be. 

30th May, 1974. 7:00 AM. I was waiting in my verandah for the daily newspaper. That was supposedly the day, when the results of the Class X examinations were to be declared. Usually, the newspaper would have been delivered by then, however, that day, there was no sight of the paper boy. The air brew a lot of tension. To everyone in the family and the village who dreamt of seeing their village in the academic landscape of my state, this was a much awaited day. Considering my talent, they were very sure of seeing my name among the list of top scorers in the state. 

The cuckoo on the clock in my verandah began singing nine chimes. As the ninth chime ended, I could see the poor fellow in a distance, struggling to push his bicycle. Finally he managed to reach my home and deliver the village's ray of hope into my hands. By then, a lot of people had assembled in front of my home. An over-confident Me, started browsing through the news paper for the results.
I gave a quick glance at first, then the glance turned into a deep search, which repeated more than a couple of times, and then I was madly turning every page over and over again. Impatience rose, turning into anger and later transformed into fury. Few of my friends who came closer to me to help with my situation, were overcome by my fury. I slammed the newspaper into their face and left the place at a pace which no one could have ever imagined from me. My Enrollment Number was just not there. 

I was devastated. As I walked through the virgin soil in the fields, I could not stop but think of what could have gone wrong. I was totally unsure of what my parents would think of me. I could not dare show my face to them. As I walked out of the village, I reached the house of our well wisher, my father's best friend, Raghav uncle's house. 

Knowing that he was not in town, I went in, borrowed his bike keys from his son Ravi and took him along. I was totally directionless. Having never seen a failure (or may be I thought that I haven't seen a failure at all until then) ever in my life, this was totally beyond my comprehension. I felt like a no one then. and in this fury, I was driving at MAD speed and poor Ravi clung on to me as tightly as a baby monkey clings on to its mom. I can remember Ravi getting scared and pushing me to control the speed, however, I was in no mood to listen. He got so scared that he finally started showering abuses on me to reduce the speed. My adrenaline however pushed me to the other extreme. And then the unexpected happened. 

I did not realize that the little path ended beyond the next 50 meters. In full speed, our vehicle reached the end of the path and the next minute, we were flying; a Rajdoot, a 15 year old kid holding the reins and a 13 year old kid as a pillion, all of us in the air, it was definitely not a Bollywood film being shot. Our trajectory took us to a huge well, leaving us just short enough to prevent us from falling into it. The bike however, skid past us and found its way into the fathoms of the well. There I lay unconscious, counting my breaths, I could see my entire childhood in front of my eyes. 

Biking, the only passion of mine besides studies, always enticed me and I first learnt cycling when I was 10. Later on, as Raghav uncle bought a Rajdoot, I pestered my dad until he spoke with Raghav uncle to teach me how to ride the bike. However, my parents were always worried about my adrenaline rush which let me ride the bike at high speeds. My father was very particular about me not riding it in the absence of supervision as I never had a license. My mother, a typical Indian housewife, was always in a mood to prevent me from driving a bike at any cost. 

One fine day, when things went beyond control, my mom forced me to swear on her that I would never drive a bike until I have the temperament to handle it and I was licensed to do it. And I had to succumb to her love and authority. 

Just two days before the incident, my parents promised me that they would take me to Srinagar, my dream destination, once the exam results were declared. I also told my mom that I would make it big in the exams and thereafter in life and that I would build a nice house for her once I become an IAS officer.  

As these scenes and many more replayed in front of my eyes, guilt seemed to prick me. I wished I had not behaved the way I did after seeing my exam results. I wished I hadn't over-sped the ride. I wished Raghav Uncle was at home, for this disaster could've been avoided. I wished this place wasn't as lonely as it was. I wished... It was too late. And I breathed my last, or so had I thought.

I woke up in a room fully lit by the Sun. I wondered if I was in heaven or hell. Going by the description of hell that I heard as a child, I knew this was not it. As I was wondering where I was, a gentle knock on my head brought me back to my senses. My mom, seated beside me, was staring at me, with tears in her eyes.

To cut the long story short, someone who saw us overspeeding, had followed us. Having seen us in a pitiable state, they informed our parents following which we were rushed into the nearest hospital. Thanks to my father being a teacher, one of his students had administered timely treatment and I had been in the ICU out of my sense for 8 days then. Ravi was however, declared dead on arrival at the hospital.

I was overwhelmed by guilt and regret for what happened to Ravi. I could see the hand of God in the sequence of events that happened. I felt that God wanted to teach me a lesson and in this process, made Ravi the sacrificial lamb. Never did I dream that the cost of teaching me a lesson would be this high. How incredible are God's ways, for He chose to give me a second chance.

89, 90, 90, 20, 85, 89. These were my marks in the First three languages, Mathematics, Science and Social Studies respectively. That explains the absence of my name in the list. Even the Academic Board chose to give me a second chance. I appeared in the Supplementary Examinations and cleared Mathematics subject with a 100% score. And the rest is History.

Life gives us many chances. However, there is always that one 'Second Chance' we get when we start feeling 'It's all over'. The onus is on us whether we utilize that chance and create history or give up and become a part of history. Failures are an essential part of life, in fact, we begin our lives with failures. We fail to crawl and then learn to crawl. We fail to stand-up and then learn to stand on our own feet. We fail to walk, and then our parents teach us to walk, extend their little finger as a support until we learn to walk on our own. We fail to learn many things, but eventually learn them.

This incident in my life killed three things dear to me; my over-confidence, my perception of success & failure and my dear friend Ravi. This autobiography of mine is all about the various chances and that one 'Second Chance' that life gave me. It is a journey of failures I encountered in the path that led me to building a $ 10 Bn. empire. I am sure that it will make an interesting read to you all.

There are many instances in my tale wherein I felt "It is too late now", including the one when I wanted to write this autobiography. This 'It is too late now' is just a feeling, a thought, a perception to fool ourselves into giving up on doing something. The measure of my success, as you will see, is directly proportional to the efforts I put in whenever such an instance occurred in my life.

While I thank my parents, my family, and every individual that I came across in my life for having made me what I am, I specially dedicate this writing to Ravi, whose life will forever remain the foundation on which my life and my empire exists today. I can't forget the words that Raghav uncle said when I met him for the first time after I recovered at the cost of his dearest bike and his only son. The only ode that I can pay to Raghav Uncle is by mentioning his kind words on the cover page to this book. I thank you for picking up this book and I sincerely wish that you too, turn those chances that life gives you into opportunities and emerge successful in whatever you aspire for.

Signing off...

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This post is a part of Write Over the Weekend, an initiative for Indian Bloggers by BlogAdda.

This week’s WOW prompt is – 'It is too late now'.

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About Uday Sankar Yerramilli

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