The story starts with a scene of a 10-year-old girl named Rucha, learning to ride a bicycle from her friend Vishnu. Rucha went forward in the cycle, and it moved unsteadily as she pressed on its pedals. She told to Vishnu, the person who was holding the cycle from behind, to hold on to the cycle tightly or otherwise she may fall. He steadied the bicycle immediately. He had been teaching her to ride the bicycle for the past two weeks. Vishnu, maybe younger than Rucha in age, as he refers to Rucha with respect (Ji - in Hindi is used to address elders). Vishnu assured that she was doing well and that she need not worry. After some time, Vishnu let go of the bicycle, and Rucha was on her own. She did not know it, but she rode along without any problem. Suddenly she called to Vishnu to stop the cycle. Vishnu, who was some distance away from her, shouted to her to apply the brakes. Rucha immediately realised that Vishnu was not holding the cycle because his voice was distant. She cried that she would fall and before Vishnu could catch up with her, she fell down because she lost her balance. She leaned on to one side, and the cycle shook before she fell down. She fell into a bush, and she was trembling but not hurt. She shouted at him angrily as she stared at him. She argued that she told him to hold the cycle tight for this reason. Vishnu said to her that she was cycling well and someday she had to cycle without someone holding behind. But Rucha was not convinced.
Rucha learnt to ride the bicycle!
She went inside the house swiftly with anger, to complain to her mom. But her mother was calm - she told that Rucha had fallen down and that it did not matter much. She explained that it happened to all those who learnt to ride the bicycle and that thankfully she was not hurt. Rucha complained again that the cycle was big for her and her toes did not touch the ground when she was seated. Her mother convinced her that it was the right size for her and that she was anyway growing up. Seema, Rucha's small sister, younger by three years, chipped in and asked if she could ride the cycle.
Before her mother could answer Seema, Rucha said she could not ride it as the cycle was so high for her, being tall - and that her sister was too short for the cycle. Seema appealed again, but Rucha did not agree.
Seema, Rucha's younger sister also wanted to ride the cycle!
The sisters Rucha and Seema had strikingly different characters. Rucha always tried to protect her younger sister, because she herself had been overprotected when she had been younger. She did not do anything without thinking of the consequences. She was very alert and self-aware about herself when she ran and played. She made sure she was always very careful. But Seema was totally different: she was brave and always used to taking risks.
There was a considerable contrast between the two sisters!
In Rucha's school, there were some badminton matches to be held the following week. Rucha was a member of the senior team. She stopped all her other activities and practised badminton with her friends. On the day of the match, her friends told her to hit harder. Aruna was Rucha's mate, and everyone thought she would win because she was a good player in their team. Like everyone's expectation, Aruna won the game. Rucha was very close to her opponent's score but finally lost the game by two points. In the overall final results, Rucha's team came in second place. Rucha said with regret and guilt that she was not able to win any game. Aruna tried to comfort her by saying she played well. She added that if Rucha had hit a bit harder over her head, she could have scored the winning point. Rucha agreed and said that she was somehow always making some mistakes.
Aruna told her to practise more. Rucha agreed with a depressed state of mind. Aruna asked her to cheer up because she had at least tried her best. The inter-school sports meet was coming up, and she asked if Rucha was there in the relay team. Still depressed, Rucha replied she was going to make others also lose the race. Aruna convinced her and motivated her that the team needed her, as she was a fast runner.
A relay race!
Rucha agreed to come, but only on the condition that if no other better person could be found in her place. In the meantime, she agreed to practise with the others in the team, under the guidance of their new Physical Training instructor, Prakash Sir. He was a person who was eagerly interested in sports, and he trained the children hard - he praised them, scolded them, corrected their mistakes, but most of the time he encouraged them.
Their new PT Instructor - enthusiastic about sports, encouraged the children always!
He told Rucha that since she was lightweight, her movements were also light and she can do much better in sports. Rucha said to Aruna secretively that she will mostly fall down and how she could do what Sir told her to do. Aruna replied that she was silly. She added that all of them tried their best and Rucha should try too. One of their teammates Shabnam informed them about their competitor school Springfields team. She said she heard that there was a very fast runner in their team and that she was nicknamed P.T. Usha. P.T. Usha is a well-known sportsperson who is famous for her running skills.
Prakash Sir heard what was going on there. He made a decision quickly and asked the girls' relay team to assemble there in five minutes. Once all the girls came together, he started speaking. He said that he had been watching all of them. He told them their practice was not enough, and they needed more time on the field to practice. All the girls protested in loud voices. He calmed them down by holding his hands up, and he tried to bring down their anger. He asked them what their goal was - whether to participate in the game or to win it. He asked whether they all agreed that they wanted to win. The girls whispered their acceptance. He finally said that he knew that they had been training. He added that they needed a little extra push on their efforts, to win the game. He also said they all had it in them to win the game.
Prakash Sir started training them with some basic exercises. He showed them some techniques that would allow them to stretch their legs wider and move faster with longer steps. In a relay race, when a person finishes his leg of distance, he/she has to pass a small stick or tube called a baton, to the next person who continues the race. Prakash Sir taught them the skill of passing the baton to the next person without reducing their speed. He advised them not to slow down when they near their next team member. He told them to maintain the speed even while passing the baton, and to slow down only after passing the baton to the next person.
The girls learnt the techniques of passing the baton from their PT Instructor!
He informed the persons receiving the baton to keep jogging so that they can match the speed of the team member from whom they get the baton. With that, the training for the day ended, and he asked the team to assemble at the same time the next day. He turned to Rucha, for some special advice to her. He told her that she was used to slow down after a good start. He said she should not do that and she had to maintain her speed. Rucha agreed and told that she was not very good, with a feeling of sorrow in her.
Prakash Sir scolded her saying she should not doubt herself. He said he wanted to tell her the same thing, that she needed a positive attitude. He told her to stop thinking about losing and to imagine herself winning the game. He said "Think to win, Only to win!" and he said she was capable of doing it. Rucha went home that day, and she could hear Prakash Sir's voice continuously in her ears. The team practised hard for the next few days. Prakash Sir was always available with the team for any help, even if he had other work to do.
It was the sports day finally, and all the members got into the buses to go to the venue. They were all laughing - it showed that they were relaxed, fit and ready for the day as Prakash Sir had seen to it. Students from other schools were searching for different sports venues, and the whole stadium was active and busy. Prakash Sir collected the agenda and gave all instructions to the team. The Principal of Rucha's school began the meeting formally with a short speech and introduced all the schools that took part in the events that day. After that, the events started, and Rucha's school did very well because most of them got selected to enter the finals, which were going to happen the next day. The next morning, Rucha's relay race started after a few other events. Four schools were participating in the finals. Rucha, Aruna, Shabnam and Neelam were in Team B.
Prakash Sir told them a few final words of encouragement. He said to them that they were a good team and that they can win! He wished them good luck and motivated them to go ahead and prove their talents to win the event!
After final words of encouragement from Prakash Sir, the relay race started!
Shabnam was a tall girl in their team. She went first, followed by Neelam, Aruna and finally Rucha who would finish the race for the team. The whistle was blown, indicating the race to start. Shabnam took long strides, as taught by Prakash Sir, so they were able to get a small lead, ahead of other teams. She passed the baton to Neelam and when Neelam passed the baton to Aruna, both teams A and D had come in level with Rucha's team (Team B). They did not have much of a lead now. Team D's runner suddenly dropped the baton clumsily and lost some time in it. Aruna took it as an advantage to gain a lead and tried her best to keep side by side, to the runner of Team A.
*Baton passing sequence - first was Shabnam, then Neelam, Aruna and finally Rucha!
Finally, it was Rucha's turn. She had to compete with the "P.T. Usha" of Team A, Springfields team fastest runner, as mentioned by Shabnam earlier. Rucha thought it was her bad luck that she had to compete with the fastest runner. But she immediately put the thought aside, and she got ready for the race. Her schoolmates were cheering for her "Rucha, come on! Ru...cha!" She also noted that "P.T. Usha" of that team was trying to overtake her.
For a brief time, she thought she should not let the negative thoughts come back to her. She remembered Prakash Sir's voice "Think to Win!" The next minute Rucha saw nothing but the finishing line that she had to reach. She was totally into winning thoughts that she did not note the time nor the distance she was running. She ran on and on that she was not even aware of the fact that she had crossed the finishing line! She realised when Aruna called her name and told her that she had won and the team had won. She was hugging and kissing Rucha out of delight. Prakash Sir gave her a big smile, and everybody appreciated her. Even "P.T. Usha" came forward to congratulate her.
Rucha was conscious of nothing except the tape at the finishing line!
She said she thought she was fast, but Rucha was simply superb, and she shook hands with her. It was not only a proud moment for Rucha as the medal winner, but it also had more meaning for her, as she went up to the stage. She had fought over her reluctance and self-doubts. She understood that she could win whenever she wanted to.
*Image courtesy: flydragon / Shutterstock.com