The burden of being the top scoring kid in the class.
I Scored around 98.5% in my 10th Boards in 2006. Had to shift base from Delhi to Bangalore for my 11th and 12th.
Was the sincere, nerdy guy who was seeking acceptance from a girl from 7th standard. Guess what, she was still in Delhi. Screwed up 12th Standard, scored some 85% in my 12th.
When I was 18, I joined the National Defense Academy after completing my 12th standard. My dream was to be a fighter pilot and so I opted for the three-year tough training in Pune, Khadakwasla. I was in love with a girl very deeply and despite being in a relation from more than two years, she had made it clear that nothing could happen between us. Yet, to motivate me to pursue my training, she told me that she will wait.
The training is very rigorous and you do not get any opportunity to call your home or anyone else during the six-month semesters. Initially, I started repenting my decision of military training. As is quoted, “was to made to feel like the lowest form of life” during my training days. When I went back home on a 20-day leave after six months, I tried to meet her, but she was apparently too busy and I had to roam around with her friends, and hardly got any chance to talk to her.
I was dejected and I went back to resume my training. I do not know how I spent another year in the training, but slowly I had got the hang of it. In my fourth semester, I had not slept continuously for five days due to some training engagements. I was in no state to attend classes. I deliriously hacked the commandant’s mailbox and sent a mail to my squadron commander that I am excused classes as I was part of dramatics club.
It was uncovered a week later, and being the conscience-worthy that I am, I readily accepted my mistake. I was relegated back to the fourth semester and my course mates passed on to the next semester. I had to undergo the fourth semester again. I felt like the biggest loser that day. But I had made up my mind to make up for my mistakes. I had hardly even talked with her also.
Come the sixth semester, I passed out six months after my course mates with my juniors. I passed out as the best Air Force cadet—best in flying, best in ground subjects and my entire family proudly attended my passing out parade. I had understood that flying was my dream and was coming to terms that she will not be in my life.
I was transferred to Air Force Academy after a month and that is when things went downhill. I heard the news that she got engaged, I tried keeping my calm and concentrate on my flying but, you all know that rarely happens. I failed my flying tests, somehow got into navigation, but before that ran away from there in despair. With my shaving foam I had written ‘I QUIT’, and everyone was scared in the academy. After some intense counselling from my family, I returned to the Academy. Was given deferment, i.e. two days’ delay in commissioning as an officer, which made me the junior most. From first in merit to last in merit in a span of six months, I felt like an even bigger loser.
And one day, out of the blue, I realized that this is not what I was meant to do. I had a huge argument with my flight commander, and the same night I left everything behind and ran away with 700 rupees in my pocket. For six months, I was roaming around in Bangalore, teaching dance to kids, was not even in touch with my family. I was living on 10–20 rupees per day in Bangalore, barely managing a rent of 2000 per month.
After a year, I got in touch with my parents and saw their plight. Again, I felt like a loser for having let them down for a reason that now seemed so silly to me. But what had been done could not have been rectified now. I stayed away from them for another six months. After several emotional conversations with my mother, moved back to my house. I was still a criminal in pursuit, as I had fled from the Air Force. All my degrees were with the them, and I could not even get a good job to sustain myself. For almost four months, I was in my room, eating away the tiny pension my retired father used to get. At this point having lost everything, I was totally clueless. I was 24, with no degrees, jobless and to top it all, I got the news that she got married as well.
This is when I started writing. I started with my blog, which now I have deleted, since it was too depressing. I started writing my novel, and started freelancing as a content writer. My research was always good, so had no issues with tech write ups as well. In three months, I even found a good freelancing job. Even got a job by giving false documents. Purchased a bike again. Published my first novel under my pen name and got brilliant reviews. Started consulting for new authors since I had seen how new authors are troubled by the publishers. I used to write 3000–4000 words everyday to keep my sanity intact. Got over my past and finally met someone whom I thought would be my solace. Proposed to her after seeing her for three months. Was the happiest I could be and then again, calamity struck. Air Force police caught me in front of her from the office and took me back to Air Force. She was dejected, and so was I. Things were perfect and somehow, I had ruined them again.
I was in close arrest in a remote location for four months, fought my case and was finally court martialed out, discharged honorably on emotional grounds. Trust me, those four months were the worst days of my life. I regretted every decision I ever took. I felt like the biggest loser ever. It changed my outlook towards life. Was out a free man with a graduation degree in my hand and again no job.
The girl I proposed to cheated on me with her friend, the guy she told me not to worry about. I was hurt but still kept surging, writing and doing what I do best. Fall, learn and rise every time.
One amazing thing that happened during the last 3 years is that I picked up running, and triathlons. After hours of training (500 + annually), I have run several ultra marathons, marathons, and half distance triathlons. I’m at a stage where I have started training other people and help them with kickstarting their fitness journey.
So, what happened to the top scoring kid in my class?
Life happened to him, he did a lot of mistakes. And now he is learning to live with it and trying to grow. He has learnt like a lot of others that marks, money and a high profile status is not all you need. Peace is rare and even after you have lost it, you can find it, you can still be better than everyone who scored more than you!
Today, I am a living example of how not to live your life. I teach and mentor people on ways to have a better life, and of course I bleed myself to write everyday.