| Fireworks light up the sky during the inauguration of the National Games on Friday. Picture by Eastern Projections
The flash of brilliance at the opening function of the 33rd National Games, I am sure, will not fade from our collective memory for a long time to come. And four days into the mega sporting event, Assam has shown what it is capable of — on the field and off it.
The bus accident near the Games Village on Sunday has come as a blemish to an otherwise perfect start but I must admit that proceedings so far have been enough to prove that we have succeeded in doing what we had set out to accomplish.
Sitting on our verandah that December morning in 2002, it was one of the newspapers which told me that the 33rd edition of the National Games would take place in Assam.
In spite of all the seeming skulduggery and sheer competitiveness, there lies an innocence in sports that one doesn’t come across in other human activities.
So I sat there and smiled my way through the pages, yet wondering whether I would be able to give my mite in whatever little way I was capable of.
It was on August 18, 2003 when I received a late night call from J.P. Rajkhowa, the then chief secretary of Assam. “Take over as director of sports as soon as possible,” he said, adding, “there are things to be done.”
I had said a feeble “no,” since responsibility is something I generally shirk. Yet there was a quiet no-nonsense air in the voice at the other end and therefore, four days later, I took charge of my new assignment.
It has been a roller-coaster ride ever since, with frantic planning and people coming and going.
The creation of infrastructure apart, there has always been the human angle. Not a day went by when we were not caught up in a quagmire of podiums and emotions.
I had thought I had seen it all, yet here I was, learning once again that humans, in spite of their nobility, do carry meanness of a peculiar sort when faced with a crisis. And prominent among those to display such meanness was none other than I.
I cannot remember how many times I lost my temper at my subordinates, or the number of times I have been scolded by my seniors in service.
But we did carry on even in the face of public interest litigations (PILs) filed in the High Court and oppositions of a kind that one does not comes across often in one’s life.
There were innumerable trips to Delhi, Calcutta and Imphal to glean facts and figures, as well as for attending to all the file work that such an exercise entails.
Yet, there was always a fear hanging over whatever I did. It was not just a question of courage or confidence. It dealt with an obsession for that elusive thing called perfection. Had I written something that would negate the very purpose of acquiring the best' Had I asked anyone something that would be misconstrued as corruption' Was I sufficiently compassionate towards my subordinates'
When I greeted the morning after a night’s sleep I would ask myself, “Have you done anything that would lead to humiliation' Have you done anything to deceive your own people, your nation'” Was I turning into an egomaniac with all the coverage and publicity' I would walk out of my verandah, look up at the morning sun and quietly whisper, “Lord, keep me balanced.”
In almost three-and-a-half years, I came to learn that nothing is impossible if only one is honest. Whenever I have been dishonest I have failed to that extent. And honesty means not only that you did not deceive others but also that you did not deceive yourself.
Childhood friend Saurav Khound once told me, “It must have been an experience, all this work. It is not many who have to go through it.”
I had to agree with him, it has been an incredible experience and which is everything I wanted, if ever, so that one day I would be able to write down from beginning to end all that I had seen and gone through.