The Finishing Line

Dear Miss A,

As I watch you fall asleep after an exhausting sports day, a part of me wonders what moments of time you have picked for yourself as memories of today. Will you remember the rain, the sleet, the freezing winds? The girls from your house dressed up in blue with matching face paint? Also, while on the matter of dressing up in house colours, if you think that I am ever going to allow you to paint yourself blue and dance around in such skimpy clothing, you have another think coming. It is not cool when it is that cold! Yeah, that was a pun, my child.

Did you like wandering around with your friends, eating sandwiches in the break, and running excitedly under the endless skies? I must confess that I didn’t think you would enjoy the day as much as you did. And when your teacher asked all of your classmates  (the youngest kids to be participating) if you wanted to run in the mega relay, I fully expected a “Let us go home now, Mum”. But you put your hand up as did most of your friends. You wanted to run, you said. You wanted to give the big race a try. You trooped off with your friends and joined the house groups, waiting under a relentless downpour for the race to begin. The race is for the serious runners, the ones that mark time and practice all year around. The ones that study sport as a special subject – big, tall, athletic girls who have spent days practicing for their victory lap.

I nearly couldn’t see you at first when the race began. There were about a 100 girls on the track, the rain was clouding visibility and the pace was fierce. I saw you then at the tail end of the procession, running for all you were worth. You were not struggling to keep up and your were not falling behind – you were running for yourself, doing your bit to carry the house colour around.

There was a still long way to go, the finishing line was far away. I saw you fall behind, tired but still running. And then suddenly I could not see you anymore. My eyes scanned the throng of blue for you, to no avail.

“Watch this”, your teacher said, pointing to a moving figure in the race.

And there you were. An older girl had stopped for you. Even as your teacher and I watched, she picked you up and put you on her back and asked you to hold on. And then she ran for all she was worth, oblivious to the cheers, the rain, the time, the records. Soon she had merged with the crowd. She and you – one with those in movement.  She and you – together against the rain and the ticking time. Other little girls met similar friends along the way, tiny beaming faces being carried on the backs of those who had walked this way before.

I could see the smiles on your face and on hers and on the faces of the girls that ruffled your hair as they ran past. In that moment, a relief that was overwhelming in its profoundness washed over me. When you least expect it, we as a people walk the right way.

“School tradition”, the teacher nodded at me. “Everyone that starts gets to finish the race. Together”.

As you both neared the finish line, you wriggled off her back. Held her hand. So did your other little friends. And as all of us erupted into applause, a giant sea of blue stormed across the finish line.  As one.

Someday you will no longer need to be carried by a stronger pair of arms for a race. Someday you will race the clock by yourself. Whether you win or not, I hope that today has taught you that someone will be looking up to you, hoping you can help them make it.  Someone will finish the race ,Miss A, only because of you. You will never lose as long as you help someone else find their way home.

Somewhere between my moist eyes and the giant hugs you showered on me, a new kind of faith has reaffirmed itself. We do not run alone. Any of us. There are people that stop and take you across the finish line. Everyone that starts gets to finish the race. Together. Sometimes that is all you need to know.




12 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Rajavel
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 15:55:46

    Oh wow ! Beautiful ! both the incident and you have written about it ! Giant blue of sea ! All I remember of my school house is points, fierce competition and ally mugging of the finest athletes of opposite houses ! lol !


  2. Captain Nemo
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 16:17:57

    Absolutely stunning. This is a heartwarming tale, well told. Reaffirms my faith that I don’t walk / run alone, that someone else is always there who has been there before, carrying me along. The magic of working with a team and finishing together, whether in victory or in defeat.


  3. Captain Nemo
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 16:24:57

    Dang!!! When I started to type the comment I thought I’d be the first, did not realize that Rajavel was ambushing me or alley mugging as he says… 😛


  4. Nithya
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 16:33:23

    Awesome! Amazing to see schools inculcate such stuff, and brilliant writing as always. 🙂


  5. Poornima
    Sep 16, 2010 @ 16:37:17

    Awesome again! and the school tradition is amazing too. Thank you Scarlett for posting this.


  6. ardra
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 11:32:13

    Beautiful and so reassuring…as I sometimes try to rustle up memories especially of my school days, I find I don’t remember many details, but the feeling or ambience of those days have rendered to the texture of my mind and soul.


  7. Vidya
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 15:43:41

    Hah Scarlett! People like this, like you, reaffirm faith in humanity! A good lesson for everyone of us! Keep writing and sharing these words of wisdom!


  8. Sandhya Kapoor
    Sep 17, 2010 @ 16:17:14

    This was beautiful, Scary – as I read through it, I could feel the lump in my throat. Very touching and more importantly, reaffirming an important thought – we will all finish the race. Lovely!


  9. scarlettletters
    Sep 20, 2010 @ 11:03:58

    Thanks folks 🙂


  10. tharinid
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 03:30:53

    wow. it made my heart just a bit heavy and just a bit lighter. What a beautiful moment it must have been to witness!


  11. parikrama
    Sep 22, 2010 @ 21:14:04



  12. scarlettletters
    Sep 23, 2010 @ 12:11:03

    Thanks T and IW. Every single time I re-live that day in my memory, my eyes go moist…


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