“What’s your name?” Yelled the instructor, in the stern 100+ decibels.
“Corporal Devendra, Sir.” Trying to keep my josh (I find no alternate of this word in English) high. Trying not to let go my eyes onto those scary clouds.
“Put your left leg forward”. Another shout, haply to determine the level of fear.
“Yes, Sir.” And I did it immediately. This time it was scarier, since the clouds beneath had pulled my glance for few extra nano-seconds.
“Can you jump?” The three magical words magically thrilled me from within.
“Yes, Sir.” was the only option there. But let me tell you, the entire team of my neuro-cells, all of the 86 billion neurons, at that particular moment, were holding huge hoardings marked as ‘NOT AT ALL’, in capital letters, bold and underlined.
Actually, you know, my neurons were right.
I was in AN-32, at 15000 feet. Rear door was open. Just one iron bar at the edge. I was standing at the threshold, hardly few inches away from the sky-path. All 40 of us in a queue, laden with two parachutes, main at back and supplementary at chest. Main parachute automatically opens after 4 seconds sharp. Else supplementary one needs to be opened manually. Two tricks were taught for this. One is to keep arms closed, palms on front parachute, right hand on ripcord (parachute opener) and second is to shout 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, pull. Nearly 1000 feet travel per second. So my head was concerned about the gravitational force ;).
See, I had seen clouds from such altitude couple of times before also, but through window only. This time the entire door was open. I was experiencing the whole environment above; the real cosmopolitan effect.
This 45-minute air-trip was solely for the first-hand experience with that thrill, the para-jumpers feel just before the jump. We were not made jump that day.
It was 2007. I was undergoing PJI (Para Jumping Instructor) Qualifying Course in Agra (yes, I saw Taj-mahal aerially :)). I had tried hard to get into it. All prepared well for 120 sit-ups in 3 minutes, 18 chin-ups, 100×3 shuttle run, 2200 meter race in 8 minutes and so on. But on the D-Day, after completion of the course, I qualified every test except the jump-test. We were to jump from a 30-feet tall tower with harness, minding all the tricks we had been taught in previous 9 working days. And there I failed. My dream of becoming a sky-diver (casually some would call it sky-frog) washed out that day.
To some extent I accepted that failure, but the regret kept on cursing me for days and days (the bigger regret is that I didn’t try again and left services in the IAF after a few years).
This was not the only failure though. Some 15 months prior to that, I had severe injury in athletics camp at the verge of Inter-Command Championship, having undergone tough training for the complete 6 months in SAI (Sports Authority of India) premises (Gandhinagar, Gujrat). I had prepared for 2 years at unit for getting into it and one injury ruined that particular dream. Additionally, there are some more couple of obstacles wherein my dreams crashed squarely (though came across achievements too, in lot many other avenues, mostly in first attempt. Just mentioning… to address judging thoughts:)).
I think we all, by default, by virtue of having ambitious minds, come across many successes and failures in our lives. I mean, we all haply see our lives as highs and lows in terms of achieving and losing. But at this juncture, when I look back or even in general sense also, I feel that failure is just a human-composed word. It has no existence in the dictionary of Mother Nature. We all have been given lives to experience it, not to assessing successes and failures. Innumerable reasons we have, as to remain joyful. Isn’t this enough to be happier that we got up this morning!
Whatever avenue we attempt in, for sure renders us an experience, no matter what the final outcome is. And that experience, that involvement, is important. That feel of the whole-hearted attempt actually exults us.
Even in my Spiritual journey (calling it a journey for some particular reasons; though I think by default we all are spiritual, only thing we just need to experience it), I may not do well. But whatever little and meagerly I have been doing, I feel blissful. And that’s what I enjoy about it.
All His Grace. 🙂