Arjun had booked the cab for his grandfather Mr Babulal Shah where both – the pickup and the destination were the same. The initial confusion had taken a step back when the ride raced into the past with the memories of the 81 year old.
If you had missed the first stop of the ride, read it here:
The next stop information popped up on his phone. And the driver started the cab and the car moved on.
“Next destination is 10 minutes away.”, said the Google Maps lady.
The car kept passing through the streets where Babulal had spent most of his childhood and the starting years of his youth. Eventually, they reached their destination: Century Textiles Limited. The first company where Mr Babulal Shah worked.
He leaned against the car window to look at that old seven storey building. With every second passing by, his face expressions kept changing from the excitement to the smile to thrill to the nervousness to embarrassment to the contentedness.
Arjun noticed the changing expressions and got worried whether he did the right decision by choosing this place as part of the today’s journey.
“What happened, Dada? Are you okay?”
“Well, son. now I totally am. I am “century percent” okay.”, he laughed and continued. ” But do you know that for almost the first whole year of my job, I was not okay. I had performed very poorly and it all happened because of 15th August that year.”
“15th August? Our Independence Day? What had happened then, Dada? I am confused. You had never told us anything about such an incident as far as I know.”
“Well. You are right. It had been a secret. But today- let’s talk about it. Wait. Why to just talk about when I can just show you.”
He asked the driver to take the car a few meters ahead. Into the empty cricket ground.
And the caravan moved ahead.
“What ground is it, Dada? And what has this to do with you not performing well in the first year at Century Textiles And what is the relation between 15th August and this ground and to your job?”
“Well. For the past hour, you had kept me guessing. Shall I not get at least a minute of the pleasure of seeing your confused and lost face?”, Mr Shah replied with a cryptic smile.
But the driver knew the answer. Or at least- a part of it.
“I know the relation between 15th August and this ground, sir. This is the ground where the flag hoisting takes place every year and usually, the Mayor of Ahmedabad is the chief guest.”, Driver replied in a proud voice.
“Correct.”, Mr Shah continued. “And that year also, the mayor was present. And my college was doing the prime act of that Independence Day morning. We were going to do a drama of 1947. Of how things unfolded in the month of August in 1947. And how our nation took that first step towards the independence.
And one more thing:
I was given the role of our first prime minister- Mr Jawaharlal Nehru.”
“That’s amazing, Dada. I never knew you were into drama. It’s fantastic to find out about it. But…. You please continue. What happened then?”
“Well, the act started well and everything was going perfectly as planned. But then, during the last part of the act, it was me who had to deliver the speech. The first speech that was delivered by Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru to the Independent India. The speech that is very well known as….”
“The Tryst with Destiny“, Arjun replied excitedly. But he prevented himself from speaking anything else and let Mr Shah continue.
“So for that speech, I moved ahead in front of the stage and towards the mic. Everyone’s eyes were glued to see that breathtaking act. That speech was still live in all of our minds and hearts. And I had rehearsed a lot for this performance. I wanted it to be perfect.
So I was confident enough to deliver it in a single breath. I opened my mouth to start that immortal speech. But… Somehow, it didn’t come out. No words came out, Arjun. I didn’t know what was happening.
I was not able to speak at all. I had completely gone blank. I didn’t remember even a single word of that speech for which I had prepared at least 20 times.
Initially, the crowd was silent and were eagerly waiting for me to recover and continue that divine speech. But in a few seconds, it started getting ugly. People had started murmuring among themselves.
I was still standing there silent trying to catch my breath. My legs had started shivering and body was heating up. Then the next minute, the noise started surfacing from the crowd.
“What a joke this is.” “This guy doesn’t even remember a word.” “Is this how the youth of today is?” “You can’t be Nehru, son.”. “You can’t be a leader”. “You are a failure”. “You ruined everything”.
Everyone was laughing listening to those comments. And I – I was unsure of how to react. I just kept looking with blank eyes, empty mind and stunned face.
That incident, Arjun, got sealed in my mind forever.”
“This is so wrong. How can they say such things? It was just a performance. Come on! Anybody could have been in your place, Dada. You should not think too much of this.”
“I agree, Arjun. But I wasn’t wise enough to understand that. And there is a reason for that. I will tell you that.
Look, right in front of our car, was the place where a stage was erected that day where we performed. Just 15 feet ahead was the place where I was standing numb while “NOT” giving the speech. And right here- where we are standing is the place where the whole crowd was. And, now, Arjun, look back. Tell me if you can see something.”
Arjun did as asked. It was an empty ground. It did not make sense. Empty ground? He continued the gaze even further. Beyond the ground- there was a road from which they had come. And right on the other end of it was that building. The seven storey building. On top of it, in bold white font, it was written: Century Textiles Limited.
And Arjun realized. Following Arjun’s stare, Mr Shah continued:
“Yes. There. Right on that fourth floor of the building was where I used to sit. My desk was right beside that open window.
Every day, I was just sitting right in front of this ground and it always kept reminding me that I was not a leader. I was a joke. I ruin everything. And that I was a failure.
Thus, in that job for the first year, I couldn’t work efficiently. I kept messing things up. I kept making mistakes. Stuttering and stumbling had become a normal thing for me. I was losing confidence in myself.
It all continued till the point I asked myself: That thing that is holding me back, is it actually worth thinking about? Is it okay to let that one incident define my whole life? Is it worth stressing out every day just because I couldn’t entertain that crowd?
I wasn’t even in the same field of work. But that wreckage of my confidence stayed with me wherever I went. Arjun, it was like- I knew I was not supposed to feel this in my life- but I still was doing the exactly opposite.
But later, one day- I did decide to face my nightmare. I decided to counter my fears. I just went to this ground and stood where I had stood earlier. And I said what I had not been able to say till now.”
“Wow, Dada. You gave that destiny speech! That must have boosted your confidence a lot.”
“What speech! Oh that! No no no. I still didn’t remember the speech.”, Mr Shah laughed wholeheartedly. And he continued laughing for a few seconds more before speaking again.
“No son. I didn’t give the speech. I stood there and I responded to all those noises that were omnipresent around me.
I responded with why I was a good leader. I shouted that I was not a joke. I screamed out of my lungs that I was not a failure. I kept saying that I did not ruin anything. And I kept repeating that I am going to be successful no matter what. And you- all the voices that are there in my mind- you all can’t stop me. You will be right there to see my climb the stairs of success.”
Silence. Complete silence in the car. The car that was standing right in the middle of the ground. In the ground where those events had happened. The car that had three people in it whose breaths were pacing up and down while browsing into those crystal clear memories. Nobody was ready to speak again. Nobody felt the need to speak. The silence was a well-deserved response. In fact- silence would have been the best response on that 15th August as well.
Anyway, Mr Shah continued:
“And the next morning, when I came to my desk and looked out of that window- I didn’t see the Tryst with Destiny that I was not able to speak. I saw that Tryst with Destiny that had happened just one day back. And Arjun, why don’t you check on your phone the meaning of Tryst with Destiny?”
Arjun searched on Google and the answer popped up. Reading it brought a smile on his face. He looked up to Mr Shah and the driver (who was looking from rear-view mirror waiting for the answer).
“Tryst with Destiny means TO MAKE A SECRET DEAL THAT IS DESTINED FOR US. And Dada, you…. You did make that deal. You stood up to the Tryst with Destiny.”
“Yes. I did”, Mr Shah replied. “Also, the demons in my mind had never been smaller than they were that day when I stood up for myself- to speak for myself. Something which I feel that everyone should do whenever they are faced with their illusive demons. Also, public speaking is not a thing for me. Hahahah.”. And everyone started laughing.
The mood had lightened up. Everyone was filled with an excitement to move ahead on the journey. The mile that started with the nervousness has ended on a high note. The ride moves on- just like life.
A journey where Mr Babulal Shah didn’t know what the next stop was. Do you know why did he not know?
Yex. Exactly. Because. it’s. A. Date. And you don’t reveal the itinerary of the date beforehand.
The ride will continue. With Mr Shah, Arjun and that Uber driver. And hopefully, you aren’t going to drop off now. Do like, comment and subscribe to get an update about the Ateet mein Vyateet Part 3.
Till then, ciao!
-ArjunaAtWar (Parth Shah)