As the mobile phone rang, i saw an unknown delhi land-line number flashing on the screen...at 3pm in the afternoon, I picked up the phone expecting it too be a tele-marketer's call.
"hello, Dr.Hemant speaking" (my usual rehersed and perfected introduction line for such calls)...
a moment of pause and then the response came...
"oye.. Hemantthh ki haal chaal" (punjabi toned hindi saying-hemant how have you been..).. taken back by this jolt to my expectation... i tried to identify the voice from the other side.. after a few seconds of brain-storming.. i finally gave up and asked..
" i am sorry, i couldnt recognise your voice.. may i know who's this"... trying to be polite.. you never know it may be some one important.
"hey man, this is vivek.. dont you remember me...".... BOOM....BANG...BONG.... that was how my brain reacted... could it really be vivek??? Vivek was a old school time friend of mine.. 12yrs had passed since i had last heard of him...
What happend next, was a 37min 41second telephonic conversation, that evoked a rainbow of emotions in me. From the euphoric red, to a sad violet... the entire specturm was at display.. It left me enlightend with another living example one of the most amazing qualities of human nature- the desire to succeed.
Doing a little background check... I met Vivek in Delhi, after my 10th CBSE board exams.
He wasnt inteligent, he wasnt too happening, he wasnt the boss!!, he was just normal.. and he knew that.
Like everyone of that age, he wanted girlfriends, fun,more of cricket & football, less studies, and never ending "hanging out" sessions. For the next 2yrs that i met him, during my delhi visits, he became a great friend.
Since in those days, the only way of communication was telephone or hand-written letters.. both of us were lazy enuff to not indulge in them, so when we met, we had tons and tons to talk about.
One thing that always struck me about Vivek was that he knew himself better than anyone else. He knew his strengths and weakness, and most importantly he wasnt ashamed of accepting them in front of a crowd.
I remember one incident where a certain girl in our group provoked him to show off his riding skills on the bike. The aamir khan movie "ghulam" had just released a few weeks ago, and fast riding, biking stunts were a great "show-off" or "shinning" way to impress girls.
To my surpise, when 90% guys would attempt to do something of that sort, or found excuses to avoid it... he simply answered.. " i am not comfortable and fearful of riding above 60km/hr, so I cannt proform this trick"..
Even thou a group of 9 youngesters (including myself) made never ending fun of him that entire day.. he stood there with a calm and smile on his face, that a crowd of millions couldn't shake away.
After my 12th boards, I got into preparing for MBBS, and after a few months I completely lost touch with Vivek. He became like one of those pleasant memories that triggers off once in a millenium, leaves you with a smile.
Till this phone call came, I had forgotten that Vivek had been part of my life. Specially since last 2 years the hectic schedule that mind mantra has engulfed me into, had made his memory just fade away.
One thing amazing with old friends is that, you usually have so much to talk.. and it always seems like just yesterday that you met them.
As Vivek told me how his life had unfolded, i wondered, analysed, amused and inspired by his achievements.
It seems like, the 12th board didnt hold a good result for Vivek. He was always a 60%er but this time, he scored 56%. His family threw an anger fit on him, and for several days he was the "black sheep" of the herd, who had broken the family dream of him going into "engineering or medical sciences".
Since his father, didnt have the money to sponsor his engineering education in a "engineering /medical college".. they sought out for a more amicable answer to their quest for his secure future.
During these few days, Vivek was also doing his own research. That was the time, when call-centers were putting foot into the country, and under-grads where prefered employees for their dynamism and energetic outlook. He had made up his mind, that future studies wont help him. He researched with a few fellows, and was adamant to follow this vocation.
The moment he disclosed his desires at home,all hell broke loose.
His father threatened him with dire consequences, scolded him, beat him and even didnt talk to him.
His mother ran to the nearest temple to offer prayers for her childs sanity, she called upon the family priest to their house. He chanted mantras at the top of his voice and showered him with flowers, rice and blessings. Then in his husky strained and now tired voice told him "evil spirits have been removed...do fasting every monday and thrusday for 9weeks, and come to the temple if ever need counceling"
Still he didnt feel any desire to change his decision.
The next sunday, a "grand panchayat" (a meeting of all respectable, intelligent and experiencedd elders of the house) was held at his place to discuss his future. During that meeting his rebellious nature was questioned, and his defiance to follow B.Sc. (chemistry) as his future vocation was seen as a devilish challange to the social structure.
Their reasoning was simple- a chemistry teacher will always be required in a school, and tuitions will never end. and since its niche post 10th class, money demanded can be decided by him not the competition.
A mini-battle errupted at his house. Where never ending tea and snacks were the fuel that kept the "decision makers" lively and energetic.
To the surprise of all, his defiance was fueled by their growing anger. And his decision to follow a career in call-centers (BPO industry as now known), was seen as a product of corrupt and perverted mind-set.
By afternoon the tempers had escalated to volcanic heights, and just before anyone could do anything to calm them, his father burst out by hammering him with verbal and physical abuse.
In order to protect his defiance and self-esteem, he took a step which probably 99% of us never dare too and are scared to think off. He went into his room, packed a couple of tshirts, a couple of undergarments, a couple of jeans, 1,694 rupees he had from various "saving" sources. and walked out of the house, in front of every one.
What everyone of the "experienced decision makers" thought was just a childish impulsive running away, that would end with him pleading to come back after a day or two at a friends place, was to become his 1st step to inhumane struggle to achieve success and save his self-esteem.
(the remaining 2 parts will be posted soon...)