"A poem begins as a lump in the throat..."
- Robert Frost
Very True. Don't we come across lines, which are simply unforgettable? Remember how you thrilled to Shakespeare's To be or not to be, that is the question...? Or how your eyes misted over when you heard Yeats say Tread softly, because you tread on my dreams...? Of course, each one of us has "promises to keep / And miles to go before [we]sleep".
But it is equally true that in order to scale the peak of excellence we need to find ourselves in a special land: that Never-Never Land where the mind is without fear and the head is held high. A land where talent is lovingly nurtured; only merit is recognized; genuine and sincere effort is applauded; and success is handsomely rewarded. Hope springs eternal. But - and there is always a 'but' - in the real world, excellence is more often than not achieved despite - and not because of - official assistance.
Rabindranath Tagore's Wonderland has not been realized in our country - at least not as yet. But it has fired the imagination of millions of Indians, driving them to scale dizzying heights of greatness - Sachin Tendulkar in cricket; Saina Nehwal in badminton; in mountaineering Arunima Sinha who lost a leg in an accident and still successfully scaled Mount Everest; Bhakti Sharma, not only the youngest but also the first Asian woman to create a swimming record in the freezing waters of the Antarctic; Mary Kom, 5-time World Amateur Boxing Champion - a mother, a boxer and an inspiration to her countrymen in more ways than one.
When Kalpana Chawla literally touched the Heavens, the disbelieving gods became jealous and refused to let her go back to humanity. And yet, did that unfortunate incident ever make Indians back down, even though almost-impossible odds were stacked against them? No sir! Remember young Vikram Batra's cry of "Dil mange more"? It symbolises, for all time to come, our "courage never to submit or yield"
The list is endless. "...men may come and men may go / But I go on forever". . .Something like that.
And then, of course, there is Dr. A. P. J. Abdul Kalam, successful Indian scientist and the 11th President of India from 2002 to 2007 - our own People's President. He faced near-insurmountable odds in his path to becoming the leader of a glorious nation. He had rather humble beginnings: born in a Tamil Muslim family, with a simple boat owner for a father and a mother who was a homemaker. They were poor and our future president had to start working at an early age to supplement his family’s income by distributing newspapers before and after school. Like many Indians he had to fight tooth and nail for his dream. Even though In his school and college years he had average grades, yet he was a hardworking student and that more than made up for it.
Later, Dr. Kalam joined Aeronautical Development Establishment of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO) as a scientist and went on to head the organization.
The rest, as they say, is history. . .
We have to create a space where excellence can flower unhindered. Where the mind is without fear, where we can hold our heads high - proud and unafraid. Into that land we must awake. We must "[a]rise, awake, and stop not till the goal is reached."