‘Adapting to changes has been my forte’ stands to be one of my trademark replies for the most sought after ‘Tell me about yourself?’ question. Thanks to the multiple cities across the length and breadth of India I have been raised in. Born in Vijayawada with no memories of it except for faint memories of my brother, 4 years elder to me, very thin and bony trying to lift ‘the then plump me’ and dropping me down head first every single time. This happened every alternate day when mom left me alone with him for hardly a minute. We moved to Bangalore when I was 3, of which I have tangible memories, and went on to live there till my 2.5th Standard.

We had moved to Pune, half way through that academic year. New School. New everything. Turns out that in a week it is the Sports Day. For someone in 2nd Standard, a book balancing race, lemon & spoon race or a needle & thread race created more excitement than a marathon. Uniform was a must for participation in the sports day. I still did not have my regular school uniform, so sports uniform was not even remotely reasonable.

I managed to borrow the White shorts & shirt from a ‘best friend’ I had made in the one week. Shameek Shah was the super-chubby kid with pull-able cheeks who had backed out of the races owing to sheer laziness and comfort of a packet of chips. Either that or the feelings he had developed for me. My colossal enthusiasm for sports shot up then and after that reached a permanent ‘syntax error’ low. Thanks to the book balancing race.

For the uninitiated, a book balancing race is not much of a race; it is sprinting with a book balanced on your head. The goal of the game is to reach the finish line first with a book on your head and both the hands tied to your back.

On your mark, get set, go!” there begins the race.  My unwavering focus on balancing the book was immense. My entire image was at stake, what with the new folks gauging my awesomeness level and all. Half way through the race, during the sweating & panting I felt something wriggle down my legs, I did not want to stagger and go off on a tangent and hence assumed it to be a figment of my imagination and swaggered along. I was prancing with joy when I touched the end line, only to see everyone around, parents, teachers, and the other obscure beings I couldn’t decipher, burst into bouts of uncontrollable laughter.

Not an iota of a clue, I was looking all around me in all the directions my 2.55th Standard brain knew to figure out the cause of commotion. Turns out my chubby friend’s extra-large shorts gave up on me half way through the race. ‘Unwavering Focus’, another of my CV Points derived from here, was articulated then. Three life changing decisions were made. I clearly put my foot down to not reciprocate his feelings for me forever. Never borrow clothes and never ever play sports.

Well, I did manage to come first and win not just one, but two other doting bonus prizes. Thanks to my frolicsome balance, uproarious hilarity and of course the over-sized shorts.

Divya Vaidyanathan
PGP 21