Strange are the ways of life! Faith, and belief in self, are the two oars that keep our boats sailing, through all the challenging times …
“Are you a ghost?” A boy asked … and his face was filled with apprehension.
“I know, he is a ghost! Haven’t you seen his feet? Or his hands?” said another, with absolute surety.
“We can’t play with you, Rashid! Who knows, maybe you will eat us up all of a sudden,” said another child, with fear writ all over his face.
Eight-year-old Rashid reached home, sad and forlorn. He was half-crying, when his mother Ena opened the door.
“Maa, the same thing happened again, today. Everyone thinks I am a ghost! No one wants to play with me,” said Rashid in between sobs.
Ena hugged her son tight, as if she was trying to take away all the pain from his little heart. Unfortunately, this sort of a thing was now happening regularly, every other day!
Ena clearly remembered the day Rashid was born. Dawn was breaking, and Ena was having intense labor pains for the past couple of hours. They lived in a small town, so she needed to be taken to the district hospital; and that was where she had registered herself, for the delivery. Unexpectedly, her labor was quite premature, so her husband quickly called for the midwife. Fortunately her labor did not last for too long and a little boy, all red, with hands and feet curled inside, who was screaming with all his might, was born. Ena took him gently into her arms. She felt an overwhelming love for the tiny one. She softly kissed him on his forehead.
“Oh my God! Look at the little one’s feet! Oh, his hands as well!” cried the midwife.
“These are turned in! Completely turned in! How will he ever walk? How will he use his hands? What has God done to this child?” the midwife went on.
Ena was holding the tiny feet and the little palms of the baby, in her hands. Indeed, these were both turned completely inwards; almost at an angle of 45 degrees. The apprehensions of the midwife were true.
Ena kept looking at the tiny baby and whispered softly,
“My child, you are a blessing from God! A unique blessing! Know for sure, in time, you will reach unimaginable heights.”
The midwife looked at Ena, and thought she could see an incredibly beautiful aura around her face. She kept quiet, and gently put the baby in the cradle.
From then onwards, each day, countless times through the day, Ena would whisper the same words into the ears of the baby. She named him Rashid. Whosoever came visiting them, to meet and bless the newborn, would open their mouths to express their dismay. But Ena, with a quiet confidence, and with glowing love on her face, would tell them how blessed she felt to be gifted with a unique child. That silenced one and all.
Ena, with her husband, started exploring the medical fraternity around their town. They met many doctors, especially the specialist doctors in this field, to try and find out a solution to this unfortunate condition of Rashid’s. Rashid had to undergo several surgeries, right from the time he was an infant, and he took all of that in his stride. Ena would constantly whisper in his ears that he should always believe in himself, and should surmount with courage any problems that came his way.
Over time, with the help of these surgeries, and with many tedious and painful exercises through each day, Rashid actually started walking. Slowly his walking improved, and he could even run! Rashid and his parents were overjoyed! He could use his hands too, and could perform all types of activities. In fact, by doing the exercises with full sincerity and dedication, he could use both his hands equally well. People were amazed at his ambidexterity!
Rashid was extremely diligent in everything that he set out to do. His mother was his inspiration, his Pole Star! Academically too, he excelled. His ambidexterity helped him in a big way. Actually all the sneers and the snubs, all the sarcastic comments, and his own torments through the years, everything, remained etched in Rashid’s heart. But they acted like a catalyst, in his struggle to become indeed the unique one, as his mother always called him.
Rashid’s dream was to be the best sprinter in the world. Yes, his mother had taught him to dream big!
“If you aim for the sky, you at least hit the ceiling!”
This had been his mantra, in life.
But while training, Rashid had to face a huge disappointment! Much as he tried, his running speed would not increase to the desired level. On discussing this with the doctors he got to know that because of multiple surgeries, his leg muscles unfortunately had developed a limitation … these could not stretch beyond a point. And this was restricting his speed. So, his dream of being the best sprinter in the world, was crushed.
Rashid was heart-broken, and so was Ena! They had never imagined that something like this could happen to them. Rashid was prepared to give everything, give his very best, to achieve his dream. But now, that was not to be. Rashid was finishing college, when his dream got shattered. In just about two weeks, Rashid went to Ena.
“Maa, I am seeking admission in the Mountaineering Institute. I want to scale the highest mountains in the world.” Ena saw a determined Rashid, standing in front of her. Ena took him into her arms.
“Yes, you will, Rashid.”
This was the beginning of a new chapter in Rashid’s life. His confidence, and his courage, amazed his trainers. Nothing whatsoever could shake his determination. He was always ready for the toughest of regimens. It was as if that, in the face of his arduous zeal, his serious physical handicaps were quite trivial, were of no consequence at all! His unfailing focus towards his goal made him completely numb to any kind of pain that his body was subjected to. He became an inspiration for all his fellow mountaineers. He climbed fast the ladder in his journey of learning, and was easily selected for the small group to head for the Everest!
Rashid stood at the top of Mount Everest, even as an intense blizzard raged all around. He could not even feel the blizzard. All he could feel was the surging blood in his veins, screaming in joy, that he had achieved his dream. The dream to scale the highest mountain in the world!
The slide show ended. The auditorium burst with a deafening applause. Rashid stood there on the stage, holding the trophy of ‘The Unique Achiever of The World.’
It was a congregation of Michelin Star chefs, where they were honouring the best. Rashid, since childhood, had always been intrigued by cooking; his interest kept on progressing with time. Rashid initially entered the culinary world purely as a hobby. Like everything else that he did, it was just a matter of time that his work shone bright here too, and took him to places. He was invited to the top hotels in the United States, the United Kingdom, Down Under, and his unique fusions of different culinary worlds, as well as the dash of authentic flavours of his country that he invariably brought in, was highly appreciated. He never sidelined his dream of scaling the highest mountain, though. He was being felicitated here as a unique achiever, and his journey from the cradle to the top of the Everest, was presented.
When asked to speak about his unique journey, Rashid smiled and said,
“I am a unique gift of God!” This faith and belief, infused into me by my mother, is the essence of my journey.”