Tryst with Destiny
April of 2011. Yes, its exactly 7 years ago. That was the time when Arab spring was creating ripples across the region and Japan was still recovering from a series of tectonic shifts and tsunami waves. President Obama’s campaign had just announced him running for a second term. But away from all global developments, a couple of incidents happened in the Indian sub-continent which continues to shape lives. Those two incidents may seem very diverse; but on closer look, they have many common themes too. Both happened along the shorelines of Arabian Sea; one a few kilometers from the ‘Gateway of India’; and the other, not too far from where Vasco-da-Gama had anchored 500 years ago, thereby opening the ‘gates’ of Europe to Asia.
On the 2nd of April, the blue eyed boys of India had their tryst with destiny. The nation had a collective sigh when ‘God’ nicked ‘Slinger’; only to recover some hours later, thanks to a memorable win sealed by a slap over long-on by “Captain Cool”. A billion plus rejoiced history being created; yes Indians were world champions of cricket again, after almost 28 years.
The second incident happened nights before history was created at Wankhede. Mr. Prajith Jayapal, then in his early thirties and working with a telecom company was returning from work. In a twist of fate, a little past midnight, he had a perilous car accident that resulted in a severe spinal cord injury. In the months and years that followed, it was a fight for survival and then mobility for Prajith, who eventually bounced back with 70% medical disability. But the joy that his family and friends will have today shall probably beat the ecstasy this cricketing nation had on the victorious night.
As journalist Rajdeep Sardesai points out in his book Democracy’s Eleven, Indian cricket have been witnessing the rise of small town players through the last decade. From, probably, being outcasts in the aristocratic cricketing world; today India rules the world of cricket. Young Prajith also hails from a small town of India- Kozhikode; and despite being grievously injured and physically challenged, has risen like the mythological phoenix. Seven years since that April of 2011, both the game of cricket and journey of Prajith impart some precious lessons. Here are my 2 cents.
1. Straight Drive
Did someone say test-cricket is like daily-life? In sport or life, they always instruct you to be patient and keep it simple. In the batting crease, one needs to bite time, duck some bouncers, leave those wider ones alone and even let to miss or edge some. As coaches say; a century scored will certainly have some good scoring shots, but the majority of training and skills are directed at just staying there right through.
Our friend from the land of Zamorins did just that. When the odds were against him, he responded by not submitting to fate and fears. Today, from his wheelchair, Prajith can create mural paintings, sing timeless classics, manage farmlands and is now set at doing the unthinkable; driving all the way from Kozhikode to Delhi and back in an adapted car. Like any patient bowler, he did not fret when hit for a six by destiny; rather let that go and came back to stick to his line, length, and daring dreams.
Upset with someone letting you down, a missed promotion, an unexpected health challenge or a lost opportunity? Well why not just let it go and take fresh guard without losing hope. Because life is worth every bit of it, for being alive and moving on.
2. Magic of Ten
It was Nadia Comaneci who first scored a perfect-ten at the Olympics. From Pele to Rooney and Zizou to Messy, our favorite soccer superstars have had number-ten on their jerseys. Often neuroscientists talk about muscle memory. Be it for an athlete, musician, surgeon or simple tasks like tying shoe laces; muscle movements required to master motor skills can be honed only through years of practice. Bestselling author Malcolm Gladwell in his book ‘Outliers’ narrates that ten-thousand hours of practice is required to achieve the level of mastery associated with a world expert; whether Beatles or Bill Gates. He further elaborates that it takes about ten-years to put in those many hours of hard work.
Analysts opine that Indian cricket, crippled by the allegations of match fixing, started its resurgence with ‘Dada’ taking charge as captain. And arguably the tipping point happened in 2001, when India remarkably beat Australia at home. You guessed it right; almost ten years before that night of euphoria in Mumbai. It may be worth noting that our ‘Specially abled’ friend too chose to drive almost ten-thousand kilometers to prove his point, and had diligently planned and prepared to achieve his dream.
The key message is that great achievers don’t just work hard, they work much much harder. Success follows if one is willing to fight relentlessly for tens of years and hours.
The diehard cricket fan will wait in anticipation on what may happen in England & Wales next summer. As you read this, Prajith’s Drive-to-Delhi mission is only a few blocks from Rajpath. But one thing is sure; the indomitable spirit of this master-blaster brings tears of joy and hope to all; and life for the ‘Specially abled’ may never be the same henceforth. Just like ‘Yuvi’ did it at Kingsmead; Praji has hit this one right out of the park indeed!!!
The author is Co-founder & Director @ BioQuest Solutions Pvt. Ltd, a Bangalore based MNC that has been partnering with clients across the life-sciences knowledge value chain since 2005.