Vijitha Sebastian Adappoor
We know that “The most important thing in life is not the triumph but the struggle. The essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.” Throughout our youth we hear that achieving success in life is a combination of skills, timing hard work and luck. It is also seen that successful people share many common traits which include having long term goals, they are always ready to learn from their mistakes, and most of them easily take risks yet maintain a balance in life. Being very organized they embrace changes easily and handle their problems well.
Watching the live telecast of the 65th Nehru Trophy boat race in Kerala, burst open a floodgate of beautiful memories of the bygone days in my mind. It was a feast to see the oarsman striking the waters in synchronized harmony to make a dash to the finishing line. They were hypercompetitive individuals who believed that “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing.” Throughout the day, reporters interviewed the people who shared their childhood memories of the boat race in detail. Mine was a little different, though I too was introduced to this beautiful phenomenon in the life of a Keralite especially the one who belongs to Alleppey district.
It all began in those days when the radio reigned supreme in most middle class families. We could see a different persona of our Dad as the Nehru Trophy for him was nothing less than the Oscar. The radio commentary was relished to a great extent. The euphoria that followed the declaration of the winner was the moment we enjoyed the most. As kids, we never had a chance to witness this sport but just had the knowledge that it spurs a hitherto unseen energy among those who belonged to that land like my parents.
Dad’s eulogy was often interspersed with many anecdotes which were shared with only one ulterior motive and that was to envelop the imagination of his children with his vivid narration. The aggressiveness of the competition had become an innate characteristic in us even though we had not been witnesses to this sport. His otherwise strict countenance took on a boyish touch when he sang the ‘Vanchipattu’ (the oarsman’s song). The day would end with the promise to make a trip to our native land at this time of the year so as to acquaint the next generation with this mighty event.
It is through these episodes that we learned a lot about Alleppey, the land of our ancestors, a town with picturesque canals, backwaters, beaches and lagoons. The Nehru Trophy Boat race is held on the second Saturday of August every year on the Punnamada Lake. It all started when Jawaharlal Nehru, our first Prime Minister, visited Kerala in 1952 and was given a rousing reception by the people of Alleppey. It is said that the locals went out to make his visit special by organizing a water regatta. Nehruji was so thrilled and excited that he actually jumped into the boat that came first. On returning to New Delhi, he donated an ever-rolling trophy and said that the race should be an annual event.
It’s the great responsibility of all of us to acquaint the younger ones with the traditions of our ancient culture and values. As we reminisce the moments of life with joy, those listening imbibe the qualities of courage, self respect, trust and integrity. Every generation feels that they are in some way superior to the ones that follow. We all know that the former mirror the latter and so the impatience, indiscipline and irreverence for the various aspects can be removed to a great extent by helping them to understand and appreciate the great ideas enshrined in our culture. The younger generation is so flexible, sensitive and dynamic that they can do wonders if they are properly guided and motivated.
The great thing about imagination is that once stimulated we automatically redirect our energies into a worthwhile pursuit. All that the parents cherish and voice with conviction will always be held in high esteem by the children. We don’t need to learn rocket science to achieve this but can be done with simple everyday activities. Taking meals together whenever possible and relishing it will teach the young ones not to be fussy about food. Running household errands with children in tow is a great way to spend time fruitfully with them because we need not employ any words here, they will simply watch and learn. Even celebrating festivals with enthusiasm and later explaining to them the purpose of it will surely help them to assimilate it correctly.
We also have to teach them to be courageous and be unafraid to take on any challenge that come along the way and accomplish it to the best of their ability. As the children grow up to be the leaders of tomorrow, they would have imbibed everything and be proud of their traditional and cultural legacy. The taste of the competition and its nuances were sowed in me by my parents, I relived them by watching the telecast of the boat race with my husband and I hope to witness it in person soon with my children.