Apu was an average Indian teenager. He had grown up in a small town in the heart of India – Madhya Pradesh. He was a perfect example of majority section of boys of his age – shy and clumsy, nervous and excited, hopeful and dreamy.
Apu had just entered college. He attended his classes, tried to stay away from girls (but in vain) and did best efforts to be a sincere boy. Like others, Apu also had wishful view of college life – how the days could be spent loitering around, how to find friends for lifetime while doing all the illegal and exciting adolescent activities, bunking classes for a movie, being mindless about future, studying only enough to remember pointers to elaborate all the technicalities in the exam. How almost perfect life is in college; Apu had imagined same for himself.
Unfortunately, life can never walk on a straight line. There are bound to be twists and turns created due to God’s free style longhand strokes on our canvases. Tragedy struck. Apu’s mother was detected with cancer. The shock immersed the family engulfing and paralysing the entire backbone of father and children alike. Apu experienced a new and terrorizing side of existence; the 3 month hospital visits brought him face to face with the sufferings of cancer patients, of little children with leukaemia; he saw and felt how a dreadful disease can sap out the spirit and liveliness. He was delusional about life and wondered if the disease could have been detected earlier. If only everyone was given a chance to go back and correct those little anomalies and alter life’s track. If something could be done for cancer at all!
But soon the tide leapt over sweeping away the body filled with motherly love, loosening the glue that bonded the people together, breaking the strands of rope called family. Apu was devastated. An emotional cloud of grief trapped at the back of his throat, a blob of tears waiting to flood the eyes; the mind and heart had stopped co-ordinating with each other.
He suddenly grew of age; carrying all this anguish inside his heart made him a little wiser, and gave the lead of looking at life through the dark glasses. Apu had to go through the turmoil during college where he could not come at peace with this outcome of his being. Thankfully, friends did provide him relief from moments of sadness, short-lived though, allowing him to relapse into his own world of struggle.
The family shattered. Everyone sought refuge in things they could hide in – father in work, sisters in search of freedom and Apu trying to find solace with the situation and gathering bits and pieces of him. College summers’ break became dreadful, the house no longer epitome of laughter and merriment, he wandered inside himself staying with extended families.
A ransacked house, another unfortunate day in the life of Apu, added misery to the anger and frustration. The feeling of losing hope of never seeing little memoirs of the happy childhood, of never having to touch the peculiar little things which could allow time travel if only for a few blissful moments broke the kid completely. He was angry at his father, for not holding fast to this little part of his mother; few remnants of his wonderful past. The entire build up of emotions had now welled up and he could no longer contain them. But how could he let it out? How could he confront his father – the strands in the relationship were too taut at this moment to endure a burst of anger.
He woke up early morning before the sun rays could lay eyes on earth and ran out of the house and ran and ran and ran till the lungs gave away, till he could no longer have a sense of people around him, till he felt all alone in the midst of wild shrubs, pointy bushes, rough trodden path and heaps of mud below his feet. He came back only when his father had gone for work and strangely found this arrangement comforting for the soul. So he took to this routine from morning 5 am and continued vesting his anger on the endless road for 4 hours each day.
After what seemed like an eternity of exhaustion, Apu realized he just can’t escape people; and someone whom he was so close to – his father. Something inside him gave the courage of saying sorry and there began the first step of reconciliation towards life. A sincere apology is a heart melting and ego diminishing process for both the speaker and the recipient and gives strength to bury the hatchet. Father and son reunited and found it was time to let sorrow rest at the back of the heart to make room for some happy and peaceful future.
Graduated from college and placed in a good company along with the hoard of other engineers passing out that year, it was not a disappointing start of new phase. That endless road in his hometown had instilled in him a sense of direction towards which he could invest his time. Running gave way to cycling and inspired by cyclists on the roads of Pune, Apu took up cycling to vent out his negative energy and fill the void of time.
Life goes in the direction you want it to lead you. Apu found much needed reassurance about life in his newly developed passion for cycling and trained hard for numerous competitions climbing up the ladder of national feats. He attempted and completed a series of 200 kms, 300 kms, 400 kms, and 600 kms in the city. He proudly represented the Indian team in Paris Brest Paris in 2015 finishing 1,230 Kms within 90 hours.
As of today, Apu has discovered a purpose in life. While earning a livelihood by being a software engineer like a fair share of youngsters in India, Apu also devotes time to keep his zeal for cycling ignited. Next on his list is one of the toughest races in the USA – RAAM. Having cleared the qualifier – The Deccan Cliff-Hanger race in India, he is heading fiercely towards his next goal.
He conquered the toughest race of his life- leaving behind all the sorrows and grief, the things that pulled him back. An incidence in life can make or break you. And Apu chose to make his life better how so ever distressed and remorseful it was earlier. He learnt how life can transform and channelize your energy with the flow of your inner conscience. He found out a bridge between him and his father when his mother left hands from both the sides.
We all have Apu inside us; each one of us is going through a struggle; whether it is big or small and even though the grass may seem greener on other sides, the closer look would reveal bugs making holes in the green leaves. It’s upon us to take life on a ride or be driven by circumstances and situations. Be like a sieve allowing only finer things in life which aid you to pass through. Filter out the stuff that affects you and enjoy a fresh cup of life every day. Don’t afraid to challenge yourself. Be optimistic. Be dynamic. Be like Apu.