InkTank to Carry the Olympic Torch!


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My eyes gaped at the email, as I read it again and again, trying to absorb the shockingly unbelievable content. I also checked the date, and confirmed it wasn’t April 1st. The matter was such… “Blah blah blah... In an effort to involve the common man in the Olympics, you have been selected to carry the Olympic torch in Delhi. We are arranging for your travel to Delhi… blah blah blah!…” Zapped I was, as I stared at that email for long. And then I let out a long scream -- a hybrid mix of Shammi Kapoor and Tarzan -- and broke into a dance.

Aarti (wife) and Rohan (son) rushed upstairs to see, and couldn’t believe their eyes as they saw me go berserk! I simply pointed to the monitor, and then they saw it too. Aarti was sure it was a prank. (Your husband gets to carry the Olympic torch, so it’s but natural that you see it as a prank!) Luckily though, we didn’t fight that evening.

I did not now what to do next. Wow! I was to receive the torch from Nandita Das and pass it on to Aamir Khan. Or maybe Sachin Tendulkar would give it to me, and I would give it to Bipasha Basu. I thought of all the combinations, and Aarti asked me to stop daydreaming, and if at all the email was genuine, I should start practice first.

Well, I confirmed by calling the numbers mentioned in that email. Some gentleman from the Home Department answered. He said the government had selected five emails at random, and these five persons would get to carry the torch, in New Delhi, along with the other celebrities, and one of the five emails had landed up in my inbox.

So the preparations had to begin. I had to practice running with the torch, so that there wouldn’t be any fiasco in Delhi. Rohan and I got hold of a stick -- a thick stub of wood, of the length of the torch -- and wound a napkin around one end. By now, the neighbors had been informed and congratulatory messages had begun to pour in. A proud Aarti patiently doled out cups of tea/coffee to all those who visited to meet the torchbearer! I suddenly started feeling like an athlete. I even searched the junk, and found some old posters of Daley Thomson, Carl Lewis, and Mary Lou Retton, and pasted them on the walls. And then I started to preach Rohan - the importance of running, and keeping fit and all. He gave a big yawn, and continued with his video games.

Once the napkin was tied and the torch was ready, it was dipped in kerosene, and I prepared for my first run, with most neighbors watching from their balconies. I decided to run on the main road, and dreamt of crowds lined up on both sides, cheering me endlessly. Thank God there were no groups of female cheerleaders, otherwise I knew in which direction I would run! As Rohan ignited the torch, there was a huge flare, and as I started running, I couldn’t bear the blazing heat that came from the spiraling flame. The first attempt had flopped! A few kind neighbors suggested a smaller torch; some others just went back inside their homes. It was a big flop show on the very first day of practice. Not knowing what to do next, we just wound up the whole thing.

I thought of running at midnight. I didn’t want embarrassment again. A friend suggested that I should carry a battery torch, a large one carried by security guards, when they patrol housing societies at night. Like a stupid ass, I agreed! Aarti did mention this was a clumsy idea, but I was in no mood to listen. Have you ever heard of Olympic torch bearers listening to their wives and their mundane apprehensions?

So off we went. This time, I just had a friend for company; at one am in the middle of the night, with a large-size battery torch held high, me jogging along, and my friend following on his bike. As soon as I took a turn to come on the main road, a few dogs started to bark -- it was unusual for someone to run with a lighted torch, pointing skywards. Very soon, some more canine friends joined them, and a pack of dogs started to follow us menacingly, barking together. I stopped, and tried to throw some stones at them, they scattered, but then the barking became louder. Instead of making the matters worse, my friend asked me to sit on his bike, and we went in the direction of the stadium. It was decided that I should practice my run over there.

As soon as we reached the stadium and prepared for my run, a police jeep stopped by, and two policemen got out. They wanted to know what we were up to at this hour. They looked at me suspiciously, as I was fully dressed as an athlete, with tracksuit, head and wrist bands, sports shoes and all. Yes the paraphernalia had to be there. So everything was bought new -- spent 2500 bucks! I wasn’t going to be an ordinary runner after all; I was an Olympic torch bearer! They didn’t believe our story, and started to laugh when they saw the torch and all, and politely, yet firmly, asked us to go home.

Soon I was back, feeling a bit dejected. “How will the country have sportsmen who’d bring back laurels, if circumstances were such that an Olympic torch bearer wasn’t even allowed to practice in peace?” I grumbled to myself, exasperated at what had happened in the last few hours. I then went to bed, and soon dreamt of me carrying a torch, and Rahul Gandhi waiting to take it from my hands…

Anand, Anand get up! It’s 8 am already! And see the papers!” It was Aarti, excited and smiling. I sensed something instantly. She had that typical expression of victory, mixed with her smile! Rubbing my eyes, I sat up and I got hold of the TIMES. At the bottom, there was a small news item -- a clarification from the Home Department, of a fake email doing the rounds…! Rohan waved from behind her, a twinkle in his naughty eyes, holding the battery torch and grinning widely!

I looked for a place to bury myself.

Disclaimer: Even though all characters in this piece are real, the piece itself is purely a work of fiction.


Picture Credits: Google Images



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1 comments:

Abhiroop Banerjee said...

@Anand
Whatte fun! :)
Visualized everything. Pictured myself up to those antics. Gave me a wide grin.

November 19, 2010 at 12:33 PM

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