There is scarcely anything more engrossing to watch than displays of sheer strength and endurance. What is even more pleasurable is when one comes across absolute raw talent. Untainted by the glitter of sponsorships, modeling contracts or media coverage. I came across something of the sort recently. I saw a 40 year old Haryanvi man climb up a tree and do what looks like splits in the air while holding on to the not-so-thick trunk of the tree with nothing but his extended hands. I can’t imagine what kind of core strength it requires to be able to do this. I asked him for a repeat performance so that I could make a video on my phone. I didn’t realise he would anyway be doing reps!
I ended up talking to him about how he does what he does and his dead reply was “Bas ji bachpan se pedh chadan ka shaunk se” (I love climbing trees since my childhood days), to which his friend or lacky (not quite sure) chimed in saying “re ji jab inka mann karein hai to is parak ke pachhis se tees (25-30) chakkar bhaag lete hai pedh chadne se pehle” (he runs about 25-30 rounds of the park at times just like that). The track is one kilometer long. He was wearing a shirt, trousers and torn keds. These are people who do it for the sheer love of what they do. Not for events or time or medals or certificates or staying in shape but because they must answer a voice within or may be it’s just a way of life.
A friend of mine had written a poem a while back which was from the perspective of these super talented but lesser fortunate athletes – it’s too profane to post here. It was about what they must think when they see us in our shiny dri-fits, our headbands and our writstbands, our bright water bottles. I already give away all event t-shirts, used shoes, and whatever other running paraphernalia I may or may not have use for. But in that moment I was hit by a sinking realisation of how far it is from enough. And how little else there is that I can do about it.