Saturday, March 07, 2009


The urge to compete with self or others is an instinctive and deeply rooted feeling in quite a number of individuals, especially kids. What is important is to identify what evokes the spirit of competition in them.

One morning, I was walking relatively relaxed towards the bus stop—relaxed enough to notice trivial things that often catches us unaware and lets us revel. There were the usual scenes of dog walkers, the man who cycles his son to the school and never forgets to draw the cross as he passes by the church, the cycle man who dutifully sits by the side of his for-hire cycles and wears the looks of a dad who has that many number of aging unmarried daughters, the grocer who never feels bored to sell the same goods to the same people with the same enthusiasm and rigor, the dry wood godown that has its casuarinas stacked all in order and the cold coal on the floor gathering some heat from the mellow morning sun, the work-in-progress lamppost around the corner of the road pretending to be a banyan tree with all the thick black wires hanging from top to bottom, the vengeful blacksmith who strikes the iron while its hot and the onlookers who see their instruments of work getting ready, the bustling government gym, and the me who is wondering about the oft-repeating dream where I run really hard across the connecting corridors of my school and climb down the stairs two steps at a time with utmost precision to reach the back gate of my school.

There was also this very small puny school boy sporting his green t-shirt with some white printed letters hiding behind his backpack, white shorts, his hair oiled and kempt—I can even hear the instructions that his mom gave him while combing his hair, the tightly pulled up socks that covered his shank, the matt-finished white shoes with a green band that ran all along the periphery of his shoes, walking brisk and carefree.

So it is me and small kid in the picture now... He would not have caught my attention if he had not tried to reach one of the strings hanging outside the petty shops that display their liabilities. This is what exactly happened: while he was walking, he thrust some pressure onto his toes and sprung up and touched the string with his head. I was amazed at this gesture that made me conclude that there is nothing unique about me when I try to reach the beams of a roof with my finger tips.

With just this act of his, he managed to evoke a smile and gather all my attention. At this stage, we were walking by the side of each other and this continued for about 20 seconds. Believe me—to maintain the same pace as mine, the kid really had to take at least twice as many steps that I took for the same duration. He was obviously trying to beat me. And the moment I realized him, I wanted to test his intent or rather, my intent. I increased my pace and went ahead and in the next a few seconds, I did really witness him inching closer to me. Finally, I let him feel good by lagging behind...