|Rock climbing (B&W) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
It was the dead of a summer night. Around 2 am I woke up with my stomach groaning like a hungry lion. I tried my best at forcing myself to sleep but since my stomach just wouldn’t listen I had no choice. Being the first year at college our block was locked up to avoid any seniors entering and ragging us. Who said ragging doesn’t exist? It just gets invisible when handled with an official notice. Since I had nothing to eat and no one around was awake I had to tread the untreaded path – jump off my 1st floor balcony and stealthily move to the night canteen; a small place that served basic stuff to eat till the wee hours of the morning.
Getting off the balcony was easy. I moved on to my first floor window sill and using the horizontal beams to hang on, which were there more for the design than the support; I jumped down landing perfectly on my two feet. “That wasn’t hard I thought to myself.” After devouring the food I ordered (even the basic things taste yummy when you’re hungry) I made the way back.
No how would I climb back up? I thought to myself. The same way I came down? Is there any other way? No. Fine. Here we go. I got on to the ground floor window sill. That gave me the needed height to make the jump for the beams present. Once I got a hold on them I had to pull myself up and get on to my window sill. It was nothing from there. Pulling myself up was the only challenge.
Using all the energy in me, which was high compared to when I jumped down, I jumped and lurched onto one of the beam. I had to quickly pull myself up or the force of gravity would make sure I had no energy left. I pulled myself, gave it all I had. My head which was nowhere to the level of the beam suddenly began to make its presence felt. My eyes were now over the beam and all I could see was hope. I needed a push, somehow. My hands were giving way and I couldn’t feel the ground beneath my feet. Having lost hope I let go and came down with a thud. The thud was not loud enough to make the entire hostel take notice, but was loud enough to awaken some of my mates.
Since giving up is not something I know, I tried again, but failed everytime. In this whole process, I gained an audience – all my mates had now occupied front row seats to my ongoing dismal performance. “Josh mein aake kud gaya”. “Kya Nelton, tu apne aap ko hi nahi utha sakta? You can’t even pull yourself up?” were the few comments I could catch. Needless to say, they stung like darts. One of my friends was kind enough and jumped down to help me. He let me stand on his shoulders and try to get over the beam. I tried that too and it was of no use. I didn’t have an iota of strength to give it another shot. Finally, after trying for an hour, having no other way I woke the watchman who was guarding my block. Jumping out of your block was an offence. Getting caught was a bigger one. The watchman opened his eyes and having realized what had transcended started with his rant. Luckily for me, he didn’t go to the complaining part and quietly let me in. I went straight to my bed and bid the night farewell. The days that followed were marked with constant jibes at me. All I did was keep quiet. Days turned to months and months to years, people forgot that incident but me.
Yesterday, on an adventure at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park at Borivali, Bombay, history had repeated itself. I had a 20 feet feature that stood as a test of whether I was still the same as in hostel or not. I set my shoe-clad foot on a small edge and raised myself. But before I could get on to another point I slipped and slid down. I kept trying but somehow I just couldn’t get a grip. A little bit up but a lot more down. Sensing the impatience, I requested the next participant for a final try. I took off my shoes and took the first step, then the next. Before I knew it I was a decent 3 feet above the ground. I was off but the end wasn’t anywhere near. My body was starting to give way and my mind all clogged up. I remembered my hostel incident and that did it all. This was one way of burying a memory and I was going to let the chance go.
Clearing my mind I said to myself, “Come on, you can do it. One step at a time, take your own time. There are no Oscars to win here.” The crowd below got behind me. Cheers of “Nelton, Nelton” filled the air. Slowly, little by little, I went from one point to another, rising higher and reaching closer. I now only had the final few steps before me and victory would be mine. But what I didn’t have was the energy. My stamina quota was exhausted and all I wanted was to rest. “Could I just be pulled up by someone” I thought. But that would mean giving up right? A perfect case of ‘So close, yet so far’. Giving up is something I didn’t know and I wanted to keep it that way. “Come on Nelton, you can do it”. I looked up and searched for another hold. I raised my aching hand and reached for it. Moving my weight I got onto a better hold. I could see the person at the top smiling at me. Come on he said. I held on to the final hold and pulled myself up. Pulling 80kgs is tough but there was a lot more weight in the mind which I was pulling. One, two and three and there I was. With my face covered in sweat, a stained tee, a body aching at every point and no energy left I stood victorious at the top with a cheering crowd below. I had finally pulled myself up.