The two most influential personalities of my life; my father and Guruji have been avid table tennis players, and hence I was ranked and represented Delhi in National and Inter-University competitions in the game. Being a sportsperson with an adventurous spirit, at one time I harboured an intense desire to become an Indian Air Force pilot and after clearing NCC ‘C’ certificate with the rank of Cdt. Sgt. From No. 1 Delhi Air Sqdn. dreamt of becoming a fighter pilot. Nonetheless, the glasses on my nose and poor job security as a professional table tennis player got the better of my dreams and I plunged into academies, as always the second best choice in India. I am now pursuing my fourth master’s degree (in Masters in Business Law) after being awarded a Doctorate in International Financial Management by the Divine hands in the year 2005. I was the first head of the publications department of the Senior boys hostel at Prasanthi Nilayam which brought out many useful products in both book and audio-visual formats. After basking in the Divine grace of Bhagawan for over 18 years, I continue to serve His Lotus Feet as a faculty member in the Department of Management and Commerce at the Prasanthi Nilayam Campus. I have played lead roles in four convocation dramas and help direct a few more. I was blessed to accompany Bhagawan to Kodaikanal on four occasions between the years 1998 to 2005. All these opportunities are indications of my great good fortune to have received the nectarine love of my most beloved Bhagawan in this lifetime which I consider as my greatest treasure. I was also fortunate and consider it a privilege to have shared His Divine love through speeches with my fellow Sai sisters and brothers not only in His Divine presence, but other places in India and abroad.
But my own childhood memories about myself are quite amusing to say the least, and of course not palatable to others who had to bear with me at that time. I was the naughtiest and the most carefree child who was interested only in games of every kind and disliked the idea of burdening one’s free mind with even a little load of books. Being the youngest in the family also gave me the extra freedom I took complete advantage of. I was the champion of marble and games played with tops in the colony. Father scolded me every day for making the school cycle rickshaw get delayed due to my extended badminton sessions in the morning. He finally got me into the school bus, but had to drop me to school on most occasions as I would miss the bus and later found it more convenient to get me back to rickshaw, but due to frequent complaints about jumping from moving rickshaw, he reconciled to dropping me by his scooter. He later bought me a big ladies cycle and repented doing so later as I never shared it with my two elder sisters, and mother had to listen to daily stories of my adventurisms on the road with near misses in my races with all cars and buses that would dare to overtake me!
The condition of teachers at school was no better. I would play games before the school started, in the class, after the class and then the entire evening. During lunch break, it was my routine to steal the tennis ball of some cricketing team and make them run after me the entire time without being caught. Oh what fun it was! Even if I got caught, they had to plead with me and my friends, or else… Getting remarks from teachers to be countersigned by father was the only period of stillness in me and thereafter it was life as usual! To contain me in my study room at least for some time, father had to make the window grills smaller, else I would escape, in spite of the room door being locked firmly from outside. My two doting elder sisters could hardly perform their watchman duties well and my escape was always possible on one pretext or another! At night when the power would fail, our games of hide and seek would start immediately and once I nearly crushed a boy by jumping on him from a tree. That element of surprise proved too much for my parents and I received stern warnings. In blistering summers of Delhi, stealing Guavas and flowers from private gardens was the preferred pastime; else we would ring the bells of houses and disappear behind walls to guffaw at the perplexed inmates! There was never a time when there was no bandage on some part of my body – I was lovingly called the ‘wounded man’ by my classmates, but even then whenever the play ball had to be retrieved from most difficult of places including high walls with glass pieces or deep gutters, I would jump even without being asked, as if it was Divinely ordained for me to take all avoidable risks in life.
Then started a video games parlour in a nearby shopping complex and I was soon the undisputed champion of all games. The owner of the parlour, though he loved me, had firmly warned me not to make scores above a limit else he feared I could continue playing the whole day in a single game. My score was betted against by all youth and uncles who frequented the games parlour, but when I would come back in the evening, my score would mostly stand unconquered and my name gloriously unscathed.
The most difficult times were when during examination times dad would get hold of me and sit along to make me read. Once it so happened that unable to pass in 6th Std. dad shifted me to another school in 7th Std. The problem was that I was studying German in the previous school and there were only Economics and Sanskrit in the present. Exams were a few days away and neither was I aware of the E of Economics or the S of Sanskrit. In spite of dad’s best efforts, I scored 18 marks out of 100! To pass that year, I needed at least 62 marks in the final examination to get an average of 40. Taking matters into my own hand, I found that there was an answer book to all questions appearing in our standard text, available in the market. I memorised it from beginning to end and scored a grand 78 in the final exam, much to the surprise of my classmates and teachers. Dad was happiest person in the world the day my result was declared