How lonely you have ever felt walking alone or how lonely you wanted to be walking alone? Sometimes both, perhaps. The roads stretch far across the hidden grasslands with dragonflies humming the sweetest tune you have ever heard. Boulders block your path and living beings you have never seen before walk in parallel lines. Sometimes, your path criss-crosses with someone you meet for the first time. Someone, who seems to be a human being like you but walks with one leg. You wonder, ‘how is it even possible to walk without two legs?’ The comfort zone irks you. A series of whaaooss follows. And then you share a bottle of water. The same drive of thirst gets the two of you resting at a side of the road. You exchange greetings. Words. Language. The butterflies race towards the wilderness fluttering their wings in pinks, blues, and colours unidentified. The time comes to bid farewell and you take your own ways. Somewhere down the road, you come across a big boulder and fail to move it.
You try and fail. You remember your friend. You think of crossing it with just one leg. You soon find out a way.
Your friend reaches out for support and loneliness haunts him. Memories of you soothe his tears. Yes, he has friends to support him.
The stories go on like this. All of us are walking our own struggles and somewhere in between, our roads criss-crosses and the invisible parallel lines converge to take rest before they diverge again on their own routes.
It is this bond of togetherness which secretes the spirit of Walk for Paralympics hosted by a Kolkata-based NGO, Civilian Welfare Foundation. While most of us are aware of Summer Olympic Games which is often quoted as just Olympic Games, very few words have been written for the Paralympic Games. But let’s keep all the agenda, politics, corruption and negativities aside. These things eventually come up when one talks about Paralympics in India. What I want to talk about is the Walk for Paralympics which is just more than an agenda-driven walk, which is more than a rally with demands and slogans, which is something one should experience to feel the beauty, the joy and devour the true essence of the Walk.
CWF has its own special day selected for the Walk. 28th of August. It doesn’t matter if it’s a weekday or a weekend. It’s a get-together of all of us, of human beings of various sorts, some with two legs and two hands, some with one amputated leg, some with one arm, some on wheel chair. And all of us, walk together on the august afternoon, covering around 3 kilometres, clapping, cheering and above all, bonding with one another.
Accidents frighten us. We get scared to think what will happen if we lose one arm in an accident. A Paralympic athlete walks with us with one arm, medals of gold, silver and bronze speaking of his exploits in Paralympic games at national and international levels. He specializes in Discuss throw. Both of us love chocolate and have families to take care of. We pass by a certain restaurant which happens to be our favourite haunts.
Back in our childhood days, our mothers would scare us of the trauma of being affected by polio. Every year, the pain of the injections would seem like bliss. She walks with us, her titles speaking of the amazing life she has. She talks about her training, about her feelings when she wins a race. Polio is just a bunch of grey hairs for her.
In the cacophony of agenda and demands, we become friends. We understand that walking is not just about moving your two legs, it’s about sharing our lives. Walk for Paralympics mixes all strands of clay, lets them play on their own, on the wave of motion and what becomes of us is a beautiful memory of humanity in its all inclusive colours. Together, we realize that parallel lines are just us ourselves, reflecting in other’s eyes.