Stops and Turn Arounds

“What do you do when your dreams go up in smoke” and your hopes come crashing down like a pack of cards?

Do you give up or stand up….. and face your adversary…… look him in the eye and say…I am down but not out….. like I did!

Let me take you back in time to my childhood!

I lived in tiny house, with a single bedroom along with my parents and two sisters, in a beautiful green community called Yarada Park, in the picturesque beach city of Visakhapatnam in South India.

As kids we had a great life, the community living taught is values and the art of living together in harmony despite differences….where each family’s joy was celebrated and the sorrow of one family became the sorrow of all.

Our lives were filled with simple joys like when my dad bought a box of custard apples…. We used so share them equally. I used to roll each bite in my mouth before I actually chewed it….to  savor the taste as long as I could….

As children, since we were not exposed to the luxuries of life and were kept insulated from the trials and difficulties that our parents faced. We were extremely happy and contented with our middle class and moderate existence.

But. my father was not. He was struggling to find a way out this meagre existence…

Even clothing us was a huge effort for my father … my turn would come but twice a year…but the sheer thrill of getting a new pair of clothes…would make us ecstatic with joy!!.

One day our old neighbor and my Dad’s close friend, Krishnamurthy Uncle came visiting. He had mustered the courage to kick his job and strike it out on his own by starting an enterprise in Tuticorin.

When his friend advised him, “Nair, it is only so much that you can do with this job. If you want to better, you better start a business, like me…that’s why my kids go to the best school. This got him worrying about the future of his kids.

He kept on toying with the idea of starting his own enterprise…like his friend. But, being is careful conscience-keeper, my mother always dissuaded him from taking such drastic steps.

Finally my Dad took another route. He decided to move to “seemingly” greener pastures of Iraq, which at that time was at war with neighboring Iran. But, that did not deter him from venturing to take up employment there.

After working for a year in a warring country where even essential supplies were becoming scarce, he decided…it was time to get back and get backand plunge in to his long-nurtured ambition of starting an enterprise.

So, my father established a small contracting company. He toiled day and night…for years...and finally his business began to flourish.  He realized his dream of providing us with the best education. He got both my sisters married and we all settled down….

Our life was cruising along smoothly like a ship sailing in a calm blue sea!!

One fine morning, while he was working on an extremely ambitious project… there was a huge blast and a raging fire in his work site.

That blast blew his dreams and our lives into smithereens!! His business that was flourishing for years, just came to a grinding halt…

The ship of life that was sailing smoothly ran into turbulent waters…waters, that almost devoured the ship..

His dreams and desires were reduced to ashes….He was devastated, desolate and desperate.

He had to borrow money at exorbitant rates, to fulfill his business commitments…and in the process, he sank deeper and deeper into the quicksand of loans..

The debt noose started tightening its stranglehold…. Like a noose around his neck, …

I tried to support his ever increasing financial need. I sold my wife’s jewelry, sold my car and took a personal loan but… it was just not enough.

His debtors started coming home demanding for their money…some even threatening him.

My father, who was once an extremely respected person in the neighborhood, stood vulnerable, victimized and vanquished…in the public eye. There were people, some who were close to him,  who became dismissive and felt that it was the end of the road for him. He told me, “Son, if only if I could just get rid of these loans and die in peace”.

I realized…enough is enough. I had to act…the onus was on me.

It is then that I decided to…“Pause”…to STOP to STEP BACK…to rework my plans and prepare… to focus on the small successes…but not forgetting the larger goal

I took up a job and moved to Saudi Arabia. I took up one liability after the other. I toiled for 12 to 14 hours every day, kept just a meagre amount for personal expenses and started clearing his liabilities one after another… 5 long years, all my life savings and finally...I achieved what at one time seemed impossible.

Now, when I go home, I see my father at the ripe age of 88, relax in his rocking chair, cuddling my kids…enjoying a blissful retired life…my heart swells with satisfaction and pride!!

Yes my dear friends, when things go wrong as they sometimes will, when the world seems be drifting away from you, , when…you begin to despair…if you would ever be able to weather this storm of life

It is time to take that “PAUSE”…to STOP…to step back and let the world move forward.  Step back not in defeat, but to re-assess recoup, reassemble. Prepare….and…wait!!

Wait for the opportune moment! And then …. Surge forward like the thundering waters of the Niagra, with an aggression and confidence that should surprise those that who were dismissive of you. Soon you will rediscover your new and true self and prove your detractors wrong by that quick “TURN AROUND”

That comes from the willingness to change. That is challenge! That is what gives strength!

Yes friends, if you want to survive the trials and tribulations that life throws at you…. if you want to battle the norms to live a life of dignity, be prepared for the STOPS &…the TURN AROUNDS!!


Post Script (PS):

It has been 17 long years of working in Saudi Arabia and not a single day passed without a call to my beloved Father. He was a source of inspiration, an embodiment of positivity and the force behind my self-confidence and self-esteem. It is his encouragement and wise counsel that gave me the strength to take on the challenges of life…He was wind beneath my wings.

Alas, my wings have lost the wind! My Father is no more. He left us in grief which we are still trying to grapple after hs unfortunate demise on February 28, 2017.

“But for you Dad, I will still try and fly. I know that you will continue to guide me to the destiny that I deserve”

Rest in peace Acha…We love you!


More by :  Suresh Kalathil

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