Girte hain shahsawar hi maidaan-e-jung mei
Woh tifl kya girenge jo ghutno ke bal chale
(Only a fighter who rides the horse in a battlefield has a chance of falling, But how will those cowards fall who opt to walk on their knees)
I am pretty sure Azeem Dehalvi had me and folk of my ilk in mind when he wrote this couplet. If anything, it has given an intrepid serial failure like me some sort of validity.
I am a bulky foodie who is a veteran warrior in the Battle of The Bulge. My victories have been many, but alas temporary. That is one failure in life.
They say failing is bad, one should never fall down. I fail to see why. If I fall to my knees, I normally look around to see if I can grab that elusive five rupee coin that rolled under the table a few days ago. Since I am down, I may as well crawl to it, pick it up and consider the entire exercise profitable. Oh, and it does give my knees the necessary exercise.
The first time I heard of failure being praised was when I stood first in class for the umpteenth time. My mother was quite proud of my academic achievements. She bragged about it incessantly and my teenaged uncle, no doubt sickened to the gills with all that took me aside and said, “Try to fail once. It is kind of fun.”
I was in class V. My eyes almost popped out of their sockets.
“Everyone will laugh at me,” I said.
“So?” he asked.
I sniffed a rat. “You are only saying this so that you can watch Mama beat me up!” I accused him.
He winked and said, “Maybe.”
I was intrigued. I had never stood second in class, ever. And here was a whole new area waiting to be explored. And maybe if I failed once, it would make me likeable. Girls and boys would talk to me. So I tried to fail, I seriously did. I entered the exam hall with the full intention of giving the wrong answers. The question paper was so easy that I completely forgot my intentions and answered all of the questions correctly.
Let us say, I failed at failing. And for a long time I feared failing. I would have nightmares about sitting in an exam hall and finding that the question paper was in a language I could not read …
But let us just step back and consider, we humans have this instinct to walk, to stand upright, put one foot before another and either walk or run. Before we manage to do that, we fall. And as infants we either bawl or we giggle at our own ineptness. And then we haul ourselves up and try again. We do not stop trying to walk. And then we women after a certain age try to wear stiletto heels and walk. Painful. Wonder why we do that? Of course we fall, we also twist our ankles at times, but eventually we learn.
We lose this courage as we grow up, sadly.
My first major failure was my marriage. I so desperately wanted it to work. And when it broke up, I withdrew into a shell. I found it embarrassing and often insulting. And why not? I was the wonder girl who never failed in this performance driven world. It was so hard to come out of my shell and face the world.
You know what gave me courage in doing that?
Watching my sons.
My first born was learning martial arts. He would run to the wall in full speed and try to run up it, kicking as high as he could. Of course he fell down, hard. That did not deter him He groaned, caught his breath and walked to the wall and marked the spot where his foot parted from the wall, and then took another shot at it. Painful to watch. I don’t know why he wanted to kick so high, but he did.
So did it inspire me?
Nah! Some things are better off, admired, not emulated.
My second born was learning how to walk around the same time. He would walk a few steps and fall flat on his face and bawl. After a little while, he would attempt that once more.
That did not inspire me either.
One day, the firstborn hung a carton of Frooti high up and tried to kick it. “I’ll drink it the day I can kick it,” he said.
A couple of days later I saw second born fall. This time he ensured that he fell on his well padded behind. He also spotted a candy under the sofa when he fell and crawled to grab it
When I was peeling the wrapper for him, it struck me that my uncle was right. Failing can be kind of fun. If my marriage had not failed, I would not be free to try a whole lot of things other than marriage.
I had let my fear of failing blind me to the opportunity that one failure gave me : to try something new. Once I realized this, it gave me courage to get up again and begin afresh.
About Ritu Lalit
Ritu Lalit is a corporate slave turned fiction writer. A voracious reader, she is a gold medalist post graduate in English Literature who spent most of her childhood in remote areas in the northeastern parts of India, lying on grassy hillsides daydreaming and reading books.
She loves spinning tales, but no longer has her captive audience as her children grew up and flew away from the coop. Her three dogs don’t pay much attention. She began writing in the vain hope that the characters she creates will listen to her, even do her bidding.
She has so far got middling success in this quest, but she continues to write, as it is more entertaining than her corporate job. She has three books out in the market, A Bowlful of Butterflies, HILAWI and Chakra, Chronicles of the Witch Way. Her fourth novel, His Father’s Mistress is coming soon.
Visit her website – http://www.ritulalit.com
Connect with her at – https://www.facebook.com/Phoenixritu?fref=ts