The hall was all too silent. Filled with more than a thousand people, yet with pin-drop silence. But there was a reason behind that. It was an endless wait for this special moment, for more than a year.
It was a day for the greatest awards in the world of words. Finally he came, walked on stage and the name was announced. ‘ And the award for best writer of the year goes to Lalima*!’ With that just one sentence, the silence was broken. Cheers and claps, hugs and happiness filled the room. But she could barely move. Frozen on her seat with tears trickling down her cheeks, there in the distance she could still hear the wheels of the train turning, moving and taking her far away from her inspiration, into her future.
An unsure yet exciting future. The one she was scared of, yet looked forward to. And she remembered once again, that one special month in her life when she had just finished college and was stepping out into the world. Looking for a fresh start in a new direction. She had ideas but not options, chances but no choices, she had the will but she was yet to find a way.
The wheels moved forward and her memories took her back to that first day of her training. The office was filled with people busy with different jobs. Meeting deadlines, attending phone calls, working under pressure yet with pleasure. The seat next to her was surprisingly empty. ‘Who’d be sitting here?’ she wondered as she was given previous briefs to refer to, to get a hang of the place.
So busy she was with the material, little did she realize when the seat next to her was occupied. ‘Excuse me, are you the copy-writer here?’ she managed to ask him, to break the silence. In just a matter of a few hours, the two of them were the closest of friends. She somehow found it so easy to talk with him, share things with him and ask him for advice.. Look up to him.
‘What do you see yourself doing six months from now?’ where do you see yourself at that point?’
He knew she was confused, didn’t know what the future held and somehow he made it his responsibility to get her out of that. To make her think about what she wants to do, where she wants to go.
‘You’re different, there is something different about you, and that difference is what no one else has, and you and only you can get it out and show to the world.. What do you like to do?’
‘I like writing. Its like when I write, I can put in full emotions of what I feel. I want to be a great writer someday.’
He would assign her different jobs, sometimes to make an ad for a product, sometimes to write an article for a magazine.
‘It’s either full one hundred points or it’s a zero. There is nothing between the two. I don’t understand how does a teacher manage to give someone sixty five, seventy five or even eighty?’ He’d say.
‘You have to be your own critic, don’t wait for the world to tell you that you’re good. What right does somebody else have to comment on what you have done?’ its you who has to decide. Don’t ever be scared of difficulties. Remember, there is no way of walking ‘around’ your difficulties. You have to learn and walk ‘through’ them. And anytime you feel confused, call me. Talk to me, tell me and ask me anything you want. Don’t hesitate. I’m always here.‘
How could someone be so kind? So nice? A person she had known for less than a few days had that special feeling for her which comes very rarely, perhaps just once in a lifetime. And to her, he became her friend, her teacher, her critic and her inspiration.
One month of her training passed in a jiffy.
On the last day, he gave her a leather bag and a waist. The kind those professional writers would use. ‘You don’t know what the future holds. But I know that this can hold your future very well. Be a winner always, in all the ways!’ he told her before she left.
Her training was over, it was time to go back to her hometown and face the challenges of a new life. Face them she did. She began with an entry-level position in the creative department of an ad agency. For six years, she worked hard at all that she did. Creative director in a respectable ad agency, a freelancer and at one point a famous and respected writer. Anytime she felt lost in a sea of people, lonely in her own world, or anytime she felt like running away, she looked up to him and she’d be on the go again.
His words echoed in her ears. ‘Do something great someday. Get that genius out of you. Make me proud.’
And the wheels of the train came to a halt.
She went on stage, took the award and said on the microphone ‘Thank you *****, I’m proud of you. This belongs more to you, my inspiration, than to me..’
*Lalima ‘ Early morning spread of soft orange sunlight in the sky. Used as the name of the main character of the story in this case.