I walked up the stairs of the auditorium, and then I walked down with a confident smile to approach the stage. The walk down was not satisfactory. Again I went to the last row of seats, took a deep breath closing my eyes simultaneously trying to imagine how it would be to walk down while the full house applauding my achievements, and I starting walking down again.
On every step that lead me to the stage, I remembered the ladder I have moved up so quickly. The ladder of success. I was to get the DreamPerformer Award from my company's chairman. This was the first of its kind. The award was specially being given to me as I have won five Performer of the Year awards in continuation. I was thrilled. I remembered my first award and the bounce in my career, my salary and perks. I was so happy. I texted my best friend Afzal, " My all the hard work and sacrifice paid off. I won it.". "Congrats." was the obvious reply.
Afzal was a simple person. He was one of the best students in our batch of MBA. Everyone thought he would be one of the best entrepreneurs. He left his job and went back to his hometown. I always thought as everybody thought there was some problem with his attitude.
Thinking about all the awards I won I got the style and the smile I wanted. I moved to the podium and posed to deliver a speech, that I had to the next day. Ah! I forgot I had to prepare a speech. Well after all I was sincere about my work and I just missed writing it.
I called Afzal. He was a very good writer. He rarely published his works but I always got to read them in college and he still mailed them to me though I rarely got time to read them in work. " He can help me prepare the best speech for such an overwhelming occasion.", I thought.
"Salaam Azhar bhai ", he said as he picked up my call. I was lucky to find his outdated, low battery mobile phone switched on.
"Salaam", I replied.
"Nervous about tomorrow again?", he questioned sarcastically.
"Yep, a bit", I answered.
"Ab to paanch saal ho gaye award lete lete .... ", he laughed. " Kahiye kaise yaad kiya aaj ?"
"Actually I forgot to write my speech for tomorrow and thought since this one is most special. You know what I have left for this and what all I have done, so I was thinking if you could write one for me.", I asked.
"Surely, but I will write only truth.", he said.
"No problem" I said jubilantly.
" OK then, I will mail it to you by midday tomorrow. ", he asserted.
"Thanks , Bye".
"Bye." he said and disconnected.
I felt a sigh of relief and went to sleep feeling nervous about the next day and waiting for the speech. I have to read it at least twice I thought.
Next day noon when I opened my mailbox I read the mail.
Below is your speech. I wrote what you would have thought if you would have really thought without targeting the audience. I hope this will help you.
" "The achievement of one goal should be the starting point of another." The quote summarises my past five years in the industry. After winning one, two, three, four and now five awards, I start for another right from now. I feel happy and proud to stand here in front of you all once again and let you know the way I have reached here.
When I was a kid I always wanted to be a football player. I setup my goal in my mind that I will become a footballer. I started playing football in the academy in my town. I achieved my goal that I wanted to be a footballer and then I stared with the next. I wanted to be a forward. I always wanted to strike goals and then more goals.
In my college days I lead my University team to the finals of All India University Soccer championships. I felt that I will one day become a professional club player. I was very happy. I dreamt of playing for the national team. My friends encouraged me and told me that I am more than capable. I started dreaming more.
I was a very honest and sensitive person. I could never hurt any one. I was popular among friends for my nature. I never ignored them. I took care of my family. These were my strengths. My culture was my strength.
I was very confident, calm and thinking person. I liked reading. I liked responding too. I was in control of my life. Very much in control as I ran it.
After my University, I got a job here. I was so happy. So happy to lose control, lose control over my life. Gradually I started compromising. I compromised with my happiness. I was happy to be happy once a year while winning the award.
Did I win them? or did I buy them? I bought them for the price of my happiness. They cost me sacrificing my dreams to play soccer and become a professional player because that was hard and I did not want less money. I gave in to the glamour and modern life compromising with my culture. I started ignoring my friends, family. I was no more sensitive. Initially and even today I am envious of those who play soccer and are happy in a meagre amount salary.
I have five awards, and two mercs but I miss soccer. So if you want to be here, you will not only have to win it but buy it through your sacrifices. I didn't care to apologize to the people I have hurt during these 5 years.
Today I stand here, having sold all the strengths I had for these awards thinking the purpose behind what all I did? I am a pretence to my self, that I liked this and to others.
"Definiteness of purpose with positive mental attitude is the starting point of all worthwhile achievement." as once Napolean said. I still search for that purpose and the purpose is still missing. Alas! I have also sold the strengths I had.
Give it a thought how much we pretend to be what we are not than what we are? How much have you been disguising yourself under the face of these awards for five years and trying not to show the agony of not fulfilling your dream.
Its not just you. There are many you sitting there in the audience. The world we live in today is full of pretence and we are Masters of Disguise, as good as we can disguise to ourselves also. Hope you will help many others along with yourself.
Its been ten hours since I read the email first and today I am sitting alone in my study with my MacBook scrolling all the emails. I find Afzal has regularly written to me, where I was heading to and why he took his path to writing. I never checked my college time email without valuing his writings always having an excuse of being busy. I never gave him my professional email address but for today when I needed his help. He is doing a good job and is very happy guiding people to happiness by giving them confidence that they will be happy if they really do what they want.
I didn't go to the award function. " How well does he know me?", I ask my self. More than I do is the answer. He really is my best friend. We are all really the Maestros Del Disfraz. Aren't we?