Chapter 3- The Final Soar
Raghu’s grandfather was a retired Colonel from Indian Army. He was still in best physical condition but just one problem, his right ear. During the war of 1971 with Pakistan, he served in Indian Army at eastern front of India where he suffered a minor injury in the eardrum of his right ear as grenade blasted off near him. Since then he has a hearing problem in his right ear. Besides the fascinating stories of grandma, war stories narrated by grandpa were favourite of Raghu. He would go for a long evening walk with Col. Rawat and during nights used to massage Col. Rawat’s legs listening to his wartime stories. He would be as attentive as a cheetah while praying on a deer. Col. Rawat’stories used to fill him with the feeling of patriotism and valour. At many times he would stand on a pile of bricks pretending it to be a tank and give the order to his imaginary soldiers to march on the enemy army. On every Sunday, Col. Rawat would bring out his old uniform and badges and medal to shine them, Raghu would sit there watching him do that in great details.
On one such Sunday evening Col. Rawat and Mr Rawat were sitting in their lawn having tea with some pakoras. Raghu came running out of the kitchen with a plate full of onion pakoras towards them, refilled their empty plate and then again vanished inside the house. He was standing there inside the kitchen where his grandma and mother were cooking all sorts of different pakoras. The kitchen was filled with the fragrance of crisp pakoras and ginger tea. Even at home sometimes Raghu would stand next to his mother in the kitchen watching her cooking and use to enquire about the different kinds of spices his mother would use while cooking. He liked watching his mother cook and at times would help her to overturn the chapattis. He would get inflated with joy when his turned over chapatti would blow up into a full round ball.
“I can become a cook” he murmured to himself.
“ I like cooking and also then I can make samosas and pakoras for myself whenever mommy would not make them” – he thought.
Filled with the enthusiasm he uttered: “ I want to make pakora Dadi”.
The kitchen suddenly filled up with a loud burst of giggles from his grandma and mother.
“What happened to you all of a sudden Raghu?” -grandma enquired.
“You are just a kid, it’s dangerous for you to be around hot oil and stove”- mother advised.
But filled with the desire of becoming a cook, Raghu didn’t listen to them and pushed himself near the stove.
“You would not listen then, okay fine. Take this potato slice, cover it with this besan and then leave it slowly into this hot oil but take care don’t burn yourself” -grandma directed him.
All determined he rose up to the slab and took the potato slice and dipped it into the besan(gram flour) mixture but as he was about to put it into the hot oil, he panicked. “It is not as easy as it was looking from down there” he realized. He through the potato slice into the plate and ran out from there as fast as he could. He came out of the house and walked towards his grandpa with shattered dreams of becoming a cook. He sat next to them and started eating those crisp pakoras with green chutney and thought it better to eat than to cook.
“So hows work at bank going” – Col. Rawat asked.
“Well, it’s all good, I might get promotion and buy a car next year” -Mr. Rawat replied with satisfaction.
This statement of his father brought a shine to Raghu’s sobbing eyes. He had never thought of becoming a bank manager this far. Raghu again went on a mental trip and started thinking of a life as a bank manager that his father is.
“Well, this is not a difficult job. I can go in the morning all suited up, sit there and come back in the evening. I would get tea two times a day and can ask the peon to get me some samosas too from the shop outside the bank. And father gets a good salary too so would I”- Raghu thought and smiled
This whole description of the job of a bank manager was based on Raghu’s visit to his father’s bank some time back. As he was almost sure what he wants to become in his life, his father’s next statement was powerful enough to break his castles in the air.
“But sometimes it gets very tiring. Even a single calculation mistake and I have to redo all days calculation of the accounts”- Mr Rawat sighed.
“what? Calculations? That means maths. No way”- Raghu’s face turned pale and his eyebrows got lifted in utter tension.
Mathematics was the monster that has given Raghu many sleepless nights before exams. This was the monster he uses to fight even in his dreams and was barely able to defeat. If it was not for his mother’s help he would have failed in his last maths class test. Raghu was again left without a job that he could rely on in future. Wiping of the tension from his forehead, Raghu picked up few more pakoras, stuffed some in his pocket, two in his mouth and few in his hand and ran towards the swing where Roli was already swinging.
“Get off it now, I want to swing”- Raghu used his authority as a big brother and got the swing.
Swinging back and forth, looking up at the blue sky from the gap between the big thick branches of banyan tree Raghu noticed two thick straight white lines in the sky. Due to his curious nature and his limited knowledge to identify what is it, he ran towards his father to ask.
“Papa, look up there. What is that?
“What is what Raghu? That is the sky, don’t you know it already?”
“No, not that. The white straight lines high in the sky?”
“Oh, that is the smoke left by an aeroplane”-Mr. Rawat answered
“How it is made”- Raghu asked again
“Those white streaks planes leave behind are actually artificial clouds. They’re called contrails, which is a shortened version of the phrase ‘condensation trail’. When the pilot releases the hot smoke (like the smoke comes out of the bike and car) out of the aeroplane, at that height the hot smokes cool down very fast and make artificial clouds. Sometimes pilots use this to write in the sky too”. – Mr Rawat explained.
Fascinated with this fact, Raghu immediately questions “how can I become a pilot?”
“To become a pilot you need to study hard and have good knowledge of physics, maths, and chemistry until your class 12th. Then you can clear an exam to join National Defense Academy after class 12th or Indian Military Academy after college, where you can learn to become a pilot in Indian Air force or an Army officer like me or join Indian Navy. Then you get to fly a lot of different and very fast flying aircraft and wear a uniform too. Even if you do very good in flying you can become an astronaut too. Otherwise, you can clear some other exams and flying test to become a pilot who flies people and goods from one place to another. Do you remember when you sat on a plan when you went to Mumbai last year? Same like that.” Col. Rawat explains with enthusiasm.
“Who is an astronaut”- Raghu open fired another question.
“Well, an astronaut is a person who travels in outer space, a place outside the earth for research purpose” Mr. Rawat jumped in with an answer. He was happy because it was in such long time Raghu as asked something interesting apart from his old stupid question like why we make laddoo round or why samosa is a triangle?
“How people become an astronaut”- Raghu started to become serious and more curious.
“There are many kinds of people who become go into space like engineers, doctors, scientists etc. For that, you need to be very good in studies and have a good health. Do you know retired Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma in 1984 became the first Indian citizen to enter space when he flew aboard the Soviet rocket and spent 7 days 21 hours and 40 minutes in space? Kalpana Chawla and Sunita Williams are other two astronauts of Indian origin.”
The conversation started that evening move from lawn to the dinner table but the questions of Raghu about engineers, doctors, scientists, leaders, Presidents, Prime Ministers, Minister, Police officers, Forest officers, Social workers, different kinds of sportspersons did not end. That night he lay on the roof with his grandma listening to her stories and looking up in the clear sky at millions of stars. Otherwise restless Raghu was calm and satisfied that night. It seemed like Raghu has got his answer to the question ‘what he wants to become in life’.
The knowledge of the target or the goal or what is your purpose of existence gives a great sense of satisfaction but knowing how to achieve that makes life more meaningful and worth living.
Raghu found out what he wanted to become in life. Have you decided what you want to become in life?
P.S: Dear Readers, this is the last chapter of “Flight of a Kite” -one of my original composition of short stories. Hope this will be liked by you and can be used for inspiring young minds. Kindly provide your feedbacks.
Picture used in this post is clicked by myself.