I grew up in a village on the bank of the river Subarnarekha at the foot of the famous Ayodhya hills.My grandmother used to collect gold from the sands of the Subarnarekha while I watched the wild elephants and the colourful dancing peacocks. I loved the waterfalls amidst which stood our modest village, Tilakdih. We are five sisters and an only brother, who is the eldest among us. As a child, we scoured the village to collect fruits and flowers. And I especially loved to climb tamarind trees and collect loads of the fruit. To be frank I grew up like a jungle kid with Nature as my best friend.
As a child I went to a primary school nearby and was not the studious type. I played most of the time, especially on full moon nights. I was in class four when our teacher insisted that I take part in the school sports. After that, he would always encourage me to practise more and work on my speed so as to be able to outdo others. So I decided to run for hours and a few of my friends and my cousin Saraban, who is physically challenged, advised me to run everyday on the roads from 4 am, because that was when the roads were free of traffic. Often we would wake up at 3 am to gather near a temple and run from one village to the other. By the time people woke up and the day started, we were through with our running.
One day, at 2.30 am, when the moon was high up in the sky, I started running and suddenly noticed a small boy running with me. The boy didnít look familiar. He was small but he was running very fast. When I tried to keep up with him, he ran straight into the forest and then vanished! I went to the next village where my friend was waiting to join me. I told him about the boy. Later, I told others as well, but nobody believed me. It still remains a mystery.
Life is all about learning and I do believe that mistakes help us learn better. I remember, when I was running at the state level championship, I was far ahead of the others but ran straight on the track while the other competitors followed the oval lines. I realised my mistake but it was too late. I couldnít beat two of my competitors and came third. Though I still regret it, I have moved on in life and won many races after that.
Today, I miss my village, my friends and my cousin Saraban, who despite his physical constraints, kept encouraging me whenever I practiced.