No Excuses

No Excuses

8 mins

My name is Capt Cyril Thomas and I belonged to the 33rd battalion of Border Security Force. Yes, you heard it right. I said belonged because I am no more serving the nation. There is a well-known phrase about a person serving the military. Once a soldier, always a soldier. Even though I will always have the title of 'Captain' attached with my name along with my honorary award of Vir Chakra; I no longer felt like a soldier. Among these prestigious titles, God also gifted me with the title of a handicapped person. This gift was for the given for being the bravest on the battlefield.

I always expected to sacrifice my life for the sake of the nation and I was always ready to do it. This is how I wanted my service to end. To end it with a bang is what I thought would happen. Now my sacrifice feels half empty. I could neither go back in the forces nor can I lead a life like a normal civilian. I feel like I am tied up in my wheelchair all day. Once a brave soldier with fire in eyes is now reduced to a handicapped civilian who should always depend on someone else for his own livelihood.

I became aloof and nonchalant with almost everything going on in the world. I was no longer interested in the things which usually interests me. My mind was filled with the disappointments on how dependable I am for others. I stopped talking to people. My depression started to consume my mental state. I was on the verge of getting admitted into a mental institution. This is how I used to feel about myself for the past six months. However, everything changed after I received a letter from a boy whom I met 7 years back.

7 illustrious years ago

One of the voluntary activities as a Border Security Force personnel includes visiting warn-torn areas, orphanages, old age homes, hospitals etc and give people eatables, new clothes, provisions and other items of daily use. Once I went to an orphanage to distribute the above-enlisted item. The kids were always enthusiastic to see the men in uniform. While I spent my time playing with them I noticed there was a new kid in the place. I know this because I went there often and I almost know all the kids by their names. I feel complete and content when I spend time with those children.

I approached the kid who sat in the corner of the room. His eyes were swollen from crying and I saw tears dried up against his cheeks. I realised that the kid's left arm was amputated after it was blasted into pieces during a bomb blast caused by a terrorist organization. The kid was sitting in a chair in front of a table and was staring at a picture. The picture had a young version of the same kid holding a medal at the Asian games. The kid was a 4-time gold medalist at the Asian Games for Archery.

4 times back to back good medalist at such a young age. What talent! I thought to myself.

It was evident that the kid was crying because of his arm which would hinder him from carrying out his passion. I knew it was no use trying to persuade him to move on with his life. He must have heard those dialogues a lot. I had to ask his name to the nurses and I was also told by them that he does not speak much and rather ignores when others talk. It would probably be because of the shock and trauma he is going through. I took him out for lunch along with the other kids to avoid him feel targeted.

During lunch, I tried to make a conversation with Hrithwick but he was not ready for it. I knew that he would be much more comfortable with a person of his own interest. However, I do not know any person who knows to play archery to cheer him up. A weird idea struck me at that moment. I googled "boys playing archery" and downloaded some pictures. I went to speak with him for the 4th time of the day. Instead of vocal, I used the power of vision. I showed Hrithwick a pic I downloaded from the internet. It was a pic of a boy holding bow and arrow; attempting to shoot a bulls-eye target. I showed the pic to him. He immediately paid attention to the picture and took it from my hand to view it closely.

Is this you? Asked Hrithwick

Yes. This was when I started the game. I was as good as you; winning medals even before I could speak properly. I replied.

Did you get selected for the Olympics? Asked Hrithwick.

The moment is asked that question is when I realised the boy does not want a person of his own interest to boast about his achievements, he wants a person who experienced the same pain as his.

I replied with a no.

I continued. I wanted to participate in the Olympics but I had to undergo major surgery for my right-hand fingers which collapsed all my dreams. I stopped talking and made a serious face. I even managed to bring out tears from my eyes without actually crying. The acting classes when I was a kid helped me a lot there.

But do you know a lesser-known fact about life Rithwick? My life started where my dreams died. Naturally, every human being has the tendency to have many interests at the same time. I also liked many things other than archery but I went with my instinct and learnt archery professionally. There were other things which I liked as much as archery for which I gave less importance. I searched deep inside me and I knew that I also wanted to become something more than just gold medals, achievements and glory. A soldier was born that day.

That was the last time I saw him. My regiment was shifted to different location. Even though my story was not true, this is a story Hrithwick needed to hear to move on from his life. This is a story he needed to hear so that can knows there is always a life ahead of broken dreams. A lie often wears a robe of a negative role. It is true that I lied on my first meet with him, however, that one lie will crave a path to his success.

Present day

I saw the letter and became nostalgic after reading his name. I was very happy that he never forgot about me and wrote a letter.

Hello Captain,

After a couple of months of trying to find you, I finally got this address. Please reply back so that I know this is the correct address and I will come to meet you. The reason for penning down this letter is I want you to know an unknown story of an unsung hero who, not only went beyond for the country but also for me.

Once there was a child who was lost in this big ugly unfair world. Among the predators and racoons which dwell in this world, an angel dropped into the child's house one day and paved the pathway for his future. The angel gave the child hope and with that hope the child created opportunities.

Thank you for being that angel.


Hrithwick Goyal.

The letter instantly made my lips go wide. I wondered what Hrithwick is doing now after his career got destroyed due to the unfortunate accident. I kept the letter back in its envelope and found a picture inside. It was a picture of Hrithwick holding a gold Olympic medal in archery at Olympics this year.

In this world where excuses are abundant in nature, the kid who lost his left hand had no excuses. People often get entangled with their daily chores and come up with excuses. Excuses are seen more in people these days than ever before. However, consistency, persistence and perseverance is a deadly combination which is rarely seen. The more excuses you say, the lesser successful you will become. In the picture, Hrithwick used his left leg to balance the bow and shoot the arrow from his right hand. My body started to shiver and heart started to beat faster looking at the picture. The boy did not take no for an answer. He covered his one body's defect by using another part of his body. Same can be said for excuses. You can cover up your own excuse by hammering it down with a fistful of determination.

And just like that, all my problems seemed small and stupid. I felt like I wasted a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I immediately started packing my bags and left for Mussoorie. My first agenda is to see the boy and then my second and final agenda is to move on with my life and cherish each step of it.

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