By Nikhil M. Nair
Published Aug 2, 2012
July 27, 2012. London games begin.
Even as the whole world holds its breath at the spectacle of five hovering rings blazing to glory and burning into memories, the village of Kathakurichi in Pudukottai district of Tamil Nadu sleeps. Perhaps a solitary radio or two spews out static-laced commentary for the mildly interested few. On the other side of the world, the Indian contingent marches into global spotlight, flanked by fireworks and a billion cheers. The commentator’s words in Tamil rise in pace and pitch, and discussions break out among the listeners.
One woman listens in rapt attention; each breath she draws is imbibed with pride, but rendered acidic with pain and regret. She has seen it, she has felt it, and she has dreamt it. The commentator begins taking names of the Olympians with as much patriotic fervor he can muster, and her muscles tense up. To her, it seems like it was only yesterday.
The noise is deafening, but once on the track, all she hears is her own pumping heart. The atmosphere is electric, the excitement is Everest, and colors explode all around, but all she sees is the brown track and white lines. She stretches, like a cheetah measuring its prey, and waits for the whistle. It comes, and she is off. The world is a blur, and she blindingly accelerates to the zenith of her physical prowess. The white tape approaches, fast. The caress of it against her chest. The final whistle. The returning focus, the sweaty hugs. The warm podium. The rising Tricolor.
The billion strong country chants her name: Santhi, Santhi! The happiest day of her life ends with a glint of silver, her crowning glory, her salvation…
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Published August 2012