“You are the most irresponsible boy I have ever seen,” fumed Arjun’s mother. “You are good for nothing,” she concluded.
“Mai, do you even realize it was my 10th round of bringing water from the base village,” retaliated Arjun. “I don’t even know why we stay up at the hilltop. Could you not find a place near the base?” his reflexes in defense.
“Shut up, you useless boy. It’s only a few years now that you do this work; I used to bring water since ages. Your father used to leave for job early morning and you were too young those days. Now, go and bring vegetables, for me to prepare lunch for the day.”
Reluctantly Arjun ran down and brought vegetables quickly. His mother was surprised by the speed the young chap went down and returned home.
“Do you fly?” she questioned puzzlingly.
“No mai, I like to run. This air pushes me and says, Lets run away, I run faster,” a bizarre reply from Arjun.
“You and your nonsense theories,” murmuring she moved to kitchen.
Following her to the kitchen, Arjun explained, “Wind is my best friend. I often talk to it and you may not believe, but it gives me proper replies too.”
“You are growing physically but not otherwise, you idiot,” laughed his mother.
“1 mile in less than 8 minutes, and you qualify for Army’s Basic Training Physical Fitness Test,” announced the auto rickshaw loudspeaker through the narrow lanes of the village along with date and time. Almost, every youngster was motivated to join army from the village and Arjun was no exception.
The D-day arrived and without much preparation, Arjun participated. To the amazement of everyone assembled, Arjun completed the mile in less than 5 minutes. The crowd was dumbfounded by the watching Arjun run.
The best part was he had a normal breath, even after running at that pace. He was not huffing and puffing like the other participants.
A few wise men, even checked the route taken by Arjun to ensure that he did not take short cuts to establish his win. After being satisfied, he was declared the winner of the race.
When asked about the reason, Arjun proudly said, “My friend, wind, was my constant motivation and pushed me all along. He was my cheer leader.” The crowd roared into laughter.
As soon as Arjun entered the camp, he was a ‘Star’. Everyone had huge expectations from the young man. The coach had earmarked Arjun and was confident of winning Gold at the Annual Athletic meet. Coach knew proper nurturing of this young champion will bring laurels, not only to the Camp but to the entire nation.
Hailing from a remote village, Arjun did not have even the basic requirements like a running shoe when he ran the qualifying event. He had problems to adapt to the spikes. He even got hurt in the initial days and resisted the change.
The Coach had to counsel him with the advantage of spike on grounds and even on synthetic tracks. After the initial hiccups, Arjun adapted to the spikes and synthetic tracks.
A tailor-made plan by the Coach ensured that Arjun was given proper care and attention. Arjun became a star sprinter within no time.
Once during routine drill, all the cadets were supposed to cross a pit over of a rope tied over 15 feet pole. Next, they had to jump over the wall of hurdle and then crawl through the muddy lanes prepared for cadet training to test their physical strength.
“This is easy for you,” commented Ravish, Arjun’s best friend at the academy.
“My friend, Wind, is absent totally. I’m not feeling great about this. When he is along, I perform well. He gives me tips and motivation,” replied a dejected looking Arjun. He continued, “You city people may not even understand the emotions we, villagers, share with Mother Nature.”
As both were chatting, the trainer spotted them and ordered, “10 rounds of the ground with guns raised.”
Both the friends immediately stepped out and started doing their rounds. With sun beating straight on the heads, the given punishment was very difficult.
Arjun felt uneasy with a parched throat.
When both returned, the trainer announced them to complete the drill routine. Their faces fell flat. They could not utter anything.
Ravish took the lead as he was aware of Arjun’s physical condition today. He even ensured moving slowly so that his friend got more time to recover.
This ploy backfired too, as it was mid noon when Arjun started his routine.
Such was his dehydration level that he could not hold on to the ropes through the first difficulty level and dropped to the ground from that height.
He was immediately shifted to the medical camp and first aid monitored. The doctors diagnosed it as a minor injury but a sensitive one. They confirmed that he needed 2 months rest. Everyone was relieved by the verdict.
Being out of action, the Officers gave Arjun permission to visit his hometown and take rest until he recovered.
The recovery was slow but the exercises suggested by physiotherapist ensured Arjun was able to make basic movements. He depicted a strong mental strength to recover from the injury. He had his mother at his hindsight, who was his biggest strength.
Arjun missed his training, the academy, his coach, and Ravish in particular.
Ravish and Arjun met at the academy during a running event. While Arjun aced the race, Ravish was not far behind. Both hailed from contrasting background. Ravish belonged to a higher middle class family in the city and had all the luxuries he desired for. His love for motherland attracted him to the Academy.
After around a month and half, Arjun started to walk inside the house, he felt happy.
Days turned to weeks and Arjun was almost back to normal. Though he did not have the pace as earlier, he was confident to regain it back at the academy.
One fine day, his village friends cajoled him to join them for a picnic at a nearby hill top. Reluctantly, Arjun agreed as he felt something was pulling him back. The wind was strong indicating negative signal to Arjun. He did not want to behave rude with his school friends.
The picnic began fantastically. Everything was perfect. The bus, the people and the things arrived on time. Boarding the bus, singing and pulling each other legs, the boys had a wonderful time. Many recollected and shared their schooling stories. Arjun was also enjoying thoroughly.
Reaching the destination, the climb began. Arjun was cautious, not to rush. He was pretty careful with the stones and the zig-zag turns. Since he was injured, he trailed from the lead pack. On reaching the hill top, the boys played different games and the entertainment was full blown. Everyone forgot about the time. Again a strong wind blew rendering adverse signals to Arjun.
Suddenly, they realized it was turning dark and in a hurry, the group decided to descend.
Arjun was skeptical. He requested a few boys to stay back as he was nervous and anxious. “Don’t worry Arjun, you are a strong athlete and you can do it easily. You are the best of this lot,” motivated one of his associates. It calmed Arjun’s nerves but still he felt something unfavourable.
As Arjun was descending, his leg slipped over a bounder. “Thud”
Arjun fell down. He could himself hear a crack sound and he feared for the worst.
While all his friends lifted him, Arjun’s spirits died. He lent a deaf ear to the motivating words of the gang.
On reaching the nearby hospital, the doctors confirmed that the earlier injury had aggravated. Arjun could not control his tears as he found himself on a wheel chair.
His worst fears realized. The doctors confirmed it was curtains for his running career. Arjun could not withstand this verdict.
He became silent totally. The zeal and enthusiasm was replaced by tranquility and depression.
When the news reached the training camp, his coach and friends were utterly disappointed as well. “We have lost a Gold medal,” uttered coach in dismay.
At home, his mother tried her best to keep him motivated and assured him that he would stand back on his feet sooner than later, Arjun knew this was not possible.
These days he hardly spoke to anyone in the house. The once energetic lad had now become static sitting idle near the window. The injury was recovering, the Wheel chair disappeared but the mind was paralyzed.
Ravish, too tried to bring a smile on the otherwise dull face, without any success. Arjun has disconnected from the world. He was alone, fighting with a bout of depression unsuccessfully. Each day, he tried to rise himself to find he was an inch deeper into the mess.
One day, as Arjun was at the window, a gust of air passed through and he could hear the words, “Lets….Lets run away.” His friend, his soul mate, Mother Nature patted him and he could feel the energy.
Arjun’s face lit up. He could feel some magic happening within. All the negativity vanished. He accepted the fact that he could not move fast, the recovery path was difficult, but everything was not over yet. He could still make a life out of whatever he had learnt.
That night, he was more disturbed than the past few days. This time, he was analyzing the possible actions he could understand to re-erect the otherwise dead soul. Nothing materialized but he was determined to bring about a change.
Next day, he discussed with Mai, about the possible options he could undertake. She felt happy that her boy was recovering but appalled that she could not suggest anything. She for once understood, mere words of motivation does not work, complementary action was required. She sobbingly went in.
“Mai, don’t cry, I will come out this, I just need a way out,” Arjun said assuring.
He felt more helpless as he wanted to do lot of things but his limited movement came in between every thought that passed through his minds. He called Ravish and requested him to share his thoughts on the same.
Ravish reached Arjun’s place. They did brain-storming session but the meeting ended inconclusively.
Observing Arjun’s radiant face was turning pale, Ravish popped up, “How did you manage to reach Academy from such a remote place?”
Arjun’s face lit up suddenly. He shouted, “Thank you Ravish, you have shown me the path that I was searching for.”
Ravish was bamboozled. “I did not give any idea man. I’m myself short of the same.”
“You just asked me a very valid question. How did I make it to the Academy, right? I can share my journey from this remote village to Academy to you and everyone around THE WAYS TO JOIN ACADEMY. I will start delivering lecture on this thought process. India may have lost one Arjun but I will ensure to deliver thousands of Arjun. Thank you Ravish.” said an exuberant Arjun.
“Sounds interesting, but your travelling would be difficult?” quizzed Ravish.
“A man never walks through his legs; it is his mind which makes him walk and run. Now that I have found my way of living, I will definitely find my way. By the way, I’m not paralyzed,” chuckled Arjun .
“That’s wonderful. I will record all your videos and ensure that it reaches the entire world. Internet may be an issue here but from my house, its manageable,” assured Ravish.
“But, you are still in the Academy, how will you manage?” questioned Arjun.
“I will not. I will send my younger brother, who is pursuing digital marketing and he will take it in the right direction,” Ravish responded.
Arjun’s face glowed like sunflower during sun shine. He got a direction to think. He had a motive to live. He had a purpose to serve.
Arjun shared the meeting details with his parents.
“I was sure, something good would happen. God bless you, my son,” Arjun’s mother blessed shedding tears.
“Mai, this is the time to celebrate. Just see, how I train the boys,” Arjun’s happiness could be felt in the words.
The next few days, Arjun spent his entire time for development of his training program. He was never so happy, not even when he was selected for the Academy.
The ray of light at the end of the tunnel shone brightly.
Three weeks of documenting every aspect of the program, the commitment, and hard work brought the entire program in black and white. Arjun was in constant touch with Ravish, his coach at the Academy and other friends throughout this period.
He decided to launch his program on 15th August as it marked his individual Independence Day as well. It marked his Independence from the shackles of depression, Independence from negative thoughts.
He now felt like a free bird flying high in the vast sky. He knew his reach to youngsters would be an advantage to every youth who wished to undertake Army training and serve the Motherland.
As the d-day approached, Arjun and Ravish ensured maximum social media coverage. They made a special video of Arjun which enumerated Arjun’s journey from a villager to a cadet.
This highlighted his successful journey of being a sprinter at the Academy. The coach spoke highly about the cadet and also shared the injury episode. The friends who had seen Arjun’s caliber spoke with great regards. Everyone gave a testimonial in favour of the young dynamite.
As expected, the video was viral and youngsters all over the country reached out to Arjun for enrolment in the training program. Arjun was overwhelmed
His personal training had ensured he got the best technical knowledge in running and he was absolutely confident of imparting the same to the future nation builders of the country.
As the tri-colour was hoisted at the village, the Sarpanch announced the official launch of “Lets Run Academy”. He requested Arjun’s mother, to light the lamp and bless the young champion tread a new path in the life journey.
A huge gathering ensured that the launch was a huge success and everyone, including Arjun was cheerful.
As things were happening, a gust of wind blew forcefully whispering “Lets Run Away” yet again in the ears of Arjun. He thanked his dear friend, wind, profusely for marking attendance on such an important day of his life.
Arjun bowed down on knees and thanked his friend, who stood by him strongly.
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