Jyoti Singh



Jyoti Singh


Walking Towards Glory

Walking Towards Glory

7 mins


Ashima quickly tied the lace of her brand-new walking shoes. She had been looking forward to today’s event, a walkathon. Ashima glanced at the mirror for the last-minute touches.  She was pleased with her reflection, her hair looked good, and the fluorescent hair band added the extra panache to her glowing appearance. The black Nike t-shirt and the tights she had purchased especially for the occasion, accentuated her figure. She turned sideways and ran her fingers down the side of her waist to straighten the folds of the t-shirt. She was pleased with herself.  At forty-eight, she looked not a day older than thirty and felt like a twenty-year-old. Ashima loved life and truly believed that age was just a number. There was always a spring in her step and a smile on her face. Life had been one roller coaster ride and Ashima had enjoyed every twist and turn.  She belonged to the tribe of humans who believed in living in the moment.  She was always up for a new experience or an adventure and so when her son’s friend Rohan suggested that she participate in a walkathon she immediately agreed and registered herself for the 10-kilometer walkathon.  The prospect of a new challenge was exciting, she reveled at the opportunity to create new memories. The evidence of such moments would feed her Instagram account; her newfound obsession. She had set herself a target of one post a day; it was her way of making each day special and celebrating the little moments of life. She often felt she was born perhaps twenty years too early. But, this one miscalculation on the part of nature was certainly not going to stop her.  She smiled at herself in the mirror exuding confidence, picked up her AirPods, and walked out.

“ I am ready!” Ashima walked into the living room where her son Ari and his friend Rohan were sitting. Ari was sprawled on the sofa with his morning coffee.

“Wow Mom, you look all set for the walkathon,” Ari observed with interest.

“Yes … you should be coming with us. ” Ashima smiled at the boys, proud of herself.

“Maybe next time, Mom. ” Replied Ari lazily.

“You and your father are so lazy .  I had asked your father to join me but he is still sleeping.  ”.  said Ashima with irritation. She was annoyed with her husband Nitin for spending the entire Sunday sleeping. Nitin hated the outdoors andaccording to him, Sundays meant breakfast in bed, beer, and catching up with his favourite web series. He did not share his wife’s enthusiasm for infusing life in every moment, he enjoyed the sluggish pace of a hard-earned weekend.

“By the way Aunty. I just checked your registration form… are you sure you are up for the 10-kilometer stretch?” 

“Are you seriously going for a 10-kilometer walkathon? Isn’t it a little too much, considering you have no experience. … maybe you should try for the 5 kilometers instead,” said Ari sitting up straight.

“Of course, I am doing the 10 kilometers, I have been practicing for two weeks. I think 10 kilometers will be easy. How difficult could be a 10-kilometer walk, it is not running after all. ” Ashima answered confidently.

“Ok Aunty, if you are sure.  We should be running along or we will be late. ”

“Great, Bye Ari…go and wake up your father in time for breakfast. ”

“Sure Mom you enjoy. ”

The walkathon was organized by a local youth club and the venue was close by. Ashima was surprised to see such a large number of participants, most of whom were half her age. She felt her confidence deflating as she looked around at the other contenders. There were professional athletes, state-level athletes, and college students. Ashima realised that she was one of the oldest participants in the 10-kilometer segment of the walkathon.  Before she could dwell on her decision the announcement for the flag-off of the 10-kilometer race was made. They were hurriedly given their number tags and asked to stand in front.  In the flurry of activity, she forgot about her moments of self-doubt and quickly took a selfie for her story on Instagram #Walking towards Glory.  Ashima looked around for Rohan who was engaged in an animated conversation with a group of youngsters.  Ashima felt a tinge of nervousness returning and wondered if she really had been overambitious, perhaps a shorter segment of the race would have been more practical.  She glanced at Rohan again looking for some reassurance, he waved at her and gave her a thumbs up.  She smiled and waved back trying to regain her confidence.  As she saw other participants take their positions, she decided to concentrate on achieving her goal.  Soon, the walkathon was flagged off by a local leader amidst photo ops and much pomp and show. After the initial flurry the serious contenders began competing for their positions.  She watched other walkers as they swung their arms in perfect unison. They seem to have more speed than she did even while jogging.  Just then, she saw Rohan and his bunch of friends cheering for her as they walked past. It is then she realized that there was a particular technique employed by the participants that involved clenched thumbs, swinging of arms at ninety degrees and the rotation of the hips that helped in gaining velocity and speed. It dawned on Ashima that this was far more serious and difficult than she had anticipated.  She aped the technique, it was a bit awkward but it definitely helped her as she began gaining speed.  It wasn’t long before most participants had moved way ahead of her and It realised that this was not anything like taking walks in the park.  She felt her spirits dampen again and the nagging self-doubt returned.

 However, she decided not to be daunted by her obvious lack of technique, skill and stamina and instead concentrate only on her goal.  After all, she was not aiming for a podium finish, all she wanted was to complete the 10-kilometer walk.  Ashima decided to just enjoy herself.   She put on her Airpods, switched on her favourite music, and continued her walk.  Her favourite song played on her AirPods as she slipped into a comfortable pace. This is not that difficult she thought.  The music soothed her nerves and she looked at the large crowd standing on the sides waving and cheering, she switched on the noise cancellation mode on her Airpods, thus cutting all outside noise. She could no longer hear the continuous announcements from the public address system and began enjoying her walkathon.  It was quite a while before Ashima reached the water spot. She saw a small group of people clapping for her. She smiled at them, picked up a bottle of water to hydrate herself, and continued like a professional.  She wiped the beads of sweat from her forehead, took a sip of water, poured the remaining contents on her face,and moved ahead.  She felt a sense of achievement and smiled at herself.  She was maintaining a good pace and calculated that at the current rate, she would complete the first lap in the next five minutes.  She suddenly felt she was all alone and turned around to find a few athletes walking behind her. She was filled with renewed confidence and pride.  She pictured her husband’s face when she would narrate her accomplishments of the day. The fact that she was not the last one in the race and completed a stretch of 10 kilometers in her maiden attempt was no small feat.  As she moved ahead with renewed sense of purpose, the finish point of the first lap became visible, she felt her heart beating in anticipation.  A few more athletes moved ahead and she could see a crowd standing at the end of the first lap.  She was thrilled as she approached the end of the first lap.  She saw people beckoning her as she inched closer to the end of the first lap. As soon as she had crossed the finish point of the first lap she heard loud cheering and the beating of drums. A group of people crowded around her and whisked her away towards the podium. Ashima was totally confused, she had two more laps left to complete but the organiser beamed and congratulated her. She reached the podium and realized that the medal ceremony was on. Rohan had secured first position in the 10-kilometer race. She clapped loudly as he received his medal. Next came the felicitation for the 5-kilometer race and medals were awarded to the winners.

Ashima was still confused when the announcement for the winners of the 3-kilometer race for senior citizens was made and her name was announced for the third position.

Ashima was shocked and embarrassed; she had registered for the 10-kilometer race and here she was being felicitated for the three-kilometer race for senior citizens. Ashima did not understand how did she come third in a race she did not participate in.  The races began in a gap of 10 minutes. It finally dawned on her that she was so slow that both the 10-kilometer and the 5-kilometer race were long over before she completed the first lap.  She had been mistakenly declared a winner of the 3-kilometer race.  But before she could explain or slip away the coordinator guided her to the podium, She was felicitated with a bouquet and a medal. In the crowd, she saw Rohan’s perplexed face and avoided his gaze.  After the ceremony, the winners were called for a photo session which would be published in all leading publicationsand social media sites.  Ashima wanted to disappear before someone discovered the error and pointed it out. She excused herself pretending to attend to a call and quietly started moving towards the side exit.  She did not want anyone to see her doing so. On the far end stood Rohan watching her slip away with a sly smile, she smiled back, waved and confidently strolled out of the stadium.  




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