THE POWER OF MIRACLES
By Neel Anil Panicker
Growing up, one of the very first words I fell in love with was the word ‘miracle’.
This one word has helped me see through the darkest of dark days and God knows I have had more than my fair share of some really very dark days not to speak of darker than dark nights as well.
I can’t tell you how many times has this noble word extricated me from the jaws of sure death or defeat or loneliness or any one of the other debilitating things that happen periodically to men and mice unlucky to have been on the wrong day or even the wrong zodiacal month of the of the astrological calendar.
Trust me when I say who needs Linda Goodmans and What the Stars Foretell or our very own desi Bejan Daruwala’s year end astrological predictions or any of the other mumbo jumbo varieties that sundry peddlers peddle around while sprinting (or more appropriately Usain-bolting) all the way to the bank or wherever it is in this wide white world that they stack their big, black wealth when one has in his or her arsenal this deadly weapon called miracle.
This one magical word has made all the difference to my life. At the most hopeless of moments just when things have seemed to have reached its absolute nadir and one seriously began to doubt all those history books that spoke of a Cape of Good Hope and Noah’s Ark and Redemption and a New World and what not, the word would, albeit slowly, wriggle its way in absolutely unannounced fashion and work its sure fire magic, lifting me from the abyss of despair onto a state of sheer bliss.
It would be on such occasions that I would reaffirm and proudly renew my marital( oops, make that loyalty!) wows and for the umpteenth time solidly imprint into my heart and soul the legend: In you, I trust, come rain or shine, in happiness and in despair, on Sundays and on all other days as well, for good or for bad, for now and for ever.
Pardon me if I sound like a gushing fresh faced teen caught in the throes of his first brush with the opposite sex for I am definitely not speaking off my hat.
As with all other things in life, experience has been my greatest teacher.
I was tutored to the divine qualities of this ethereal word pretty early in life.
Let me take you through my own moment of realisation.
It happened way back in school when I was at an age when kids begin to feel mighty embarrassed to be seen in shorts but still were not considered to be so grown enough as to be wearing full length pants.
I mean what else would you expect a spindly little school kid barely into his eighth summer since making his appearance on terra ferma to wear other than the strict Jesuit school regimented navy blue trousers; cotton half pants way too small for a puny little string of a child; knickers that hemmed way up my thighs to expose dark wafer thin legs that were perennially crisscrossed with the imprints of a million injuries—- all well earned, thanks to a life that was concentrated less towards the world of books but veered more towards the worldwide web of sports including those of the ‘fresh off the factory’ cow-dung filled variety.
So, it so happened that it was almost at the fag end of the academic session and it being the month of June and with the sun being at its very peak and I being the largely ‘out of doors’ kind of kid that I was and possessed of the skin colour that I had, in no time I had turned from a near acceptable chocolate black to a horrifying chimpanzee black.
The last of the cricket games were in progress and imagine what a sight I would have made amongst all those fair skinned children—-a bit like a bottomless black hole among a galaxy of shining bright white stars.
A combination of fate and sheer luck saw me walking in to face the very last ball with my team needing all of six runs to win the match. A near hopeless situation if ever there could be one, especially, when considering the grim fact that I was to face the fastest and most successful strike bowler of the entire primary section.
A do or die situation like there ever can be one.
And so in I walked in—-a mere eight-year-old ranged against tall hefty boys double my size with menacing looks. I guess i must have made a very sorry sight and i could sense the negativity around me as the opposition closed in on me not unlike a pack of hungry hounds homing in on the carcass of their hapless victim.
I looked around to see snarling faces with murderous eyes as the adrenaline fuelled players waited for the kill, their glistening hands twirling and twitching around non-existent moustaches as they jeered, mocked and bullied me, hurling the choicest of school boy invectives.
All maddening faces sans any grace.
Imagine my plight: there I was, in the centre of the ground, bat in hand, tugging at my ever dropping navy blue half pants, ready to face the fury of guys twice my size; guys who were known to throw a cricket ball at a terrifyingly furious pace that sent rock solid wooden stumps careening on all fours several metres away lifting off bails at heights that would put to shame the reigning Olympic pole vault champ.
And as ten other equally ferocious bull dog like players closed in on me shouting strange antediluvian war cries of doubtful ancestry, all I could do was barely hold onto to the edges of my bat which to me looked as if it had suddenly gone immobile and morphed into a giant iron bar.
It seemed the colossal weight of the expectations of my teammates who were anxiously watching this do or die moment was weighing quite heavily on me.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, says the Bible. Only in my case here, it looked much like: Cometh the hour, runneth the man.
As the tall, gangly bowler released the ball all I could hear was a loud shout.
I just had a nano second to look around and in that instant all that i could see was a bubbly dimpled girl waving and shouting, “Go, go, go for six”.
I knew who she was; she of the longest of pony tails, she who sat a mere two benches away from me in class, she who I had developed an intense liking for—my first ever crush.
Amidst the din and the noise all I could hear were the words, “Don’t miss if you want a kiss”.
That sealed it. And all eyes turned heavenwards as the ball made contact with the bat and was soon hurled into the stratosphere.
“It is a six”, somebody shouted. “ We have won. It is a miracle” chorused the others.
It was at that moment I realised the magical powers of this very beautiful word called miracle.
Since then I have been a convert, a life long acolyte of this word. And for sure, my immense faith in its magical powers has, till date, never been put to question.
It has popped out like the proverbial genie out of the bottle and turned the tables in my favour just when things seemed all too hopeless and life itself looked like it had touched rock bottom much like the like it must have seemed to all those innocent unfortunate souls who went down like nine pins on the ill fated on the Titanic—-the only difference being that unlike the doomed pins which scatter on the floor, it was their bloated bodies that ended up at the bottom of the deep ocean.
Miracle. Oh! what a lovely seven letter, seven star word is that if one were to borrow a lingo from the world of hospitality to describe its aphrodisiacal powers.
Thanks to that one sultry summer afternoon eons ago, I also learned that the silver sounding word ‘miracle’ had an economic angle to it.
But for that I have to thank my first ever crush.
Ah! But then that’s another story altogether.
# SHORT STORY