The huge seminar hall was packed to capacity.

The three-day seminar hosted an illustrious list of speakers. The last session of the third day was about to begin. It was as if all the speakers of the past two days had been priming the attendees for this session. The excitement was feverish; the anticipation was palpable. The seminar attendees sat tense in their chairs, swaying like a pool of mercury, at once languid and volatile. Raman was going to be the speaker for this session.

Raman was dynamic and charismatic. His success in business was a legend. He combined wit and wisdom, persuasion with perspicacity and influence with integrity. He was looked up to; he was revered- not only as a businessman, but as a man and a leader.

The seminar hall erupted with applause as Raman walked on to the podium.

“What stops you from knowing- as surely as you know the rising of the sun every morning– that you were built for mighty deeds and were born ready to do them? Do you know?”

Raman’s voice boomed, setting the air aflame with a question that lives in the unacknowledged dark corners of every heart.

There was pin- drop silence in the seminar hall. A sea of faces looked up at this diminutive giant of a man. They came to learn from him, to know what holds them prisoner from their own glorious life, to break the shackles- and to take flight at last.

“I know what stops you because I too was stopped by it once. I could tell you but do you have the courage to hear it?”

His voice was a roar. It trembled with unsuppressed passion. When he saw people throw way their opportunities; their potential abandoned, unrealized, it hurt him with a pain that was almost personal. That was the reason he made time for sessions such as these at least two- three times a year. This was the only way he knew of paying his debts to those giants of spirit who had once held him by the hand, led him to the edge of a cliff and pushed him off. They had known he could fly; he hadn’t. Silently, he recited the short poem he loved:

Apollo stood on a high cliff.

“Come to the edge,” he said.

“It’s too high,” they said.

“Come to the edge,” he said.

“We’ll fall,” they said.

“Come to the edge,” he said.

And they did.

And he pushed them.

And they flew.

“Yes!” boomed the seminar hall. Pencils were poised tensely over paper, people squared their shoulders and leaned forward, their jaw set- ready to take the punch.

“No, I am not going to dictate a formula to you. There are no words of wisdom I will pour into your ears. Instead, I will give you are demonstration with the help of an exercise. But for that I need a volunteer. Who’s a sport?”

Many rushed forward. Adarsh was selected. He was requested to step out of the seminar hall. He would be asked to come in again after ten minutes, he was told.

Once Adarsh stepped out of the room, Raman told the audience what he wanted them to do. Speaking emphatically for ten minutes, he gave everyone their instructions. He spoke particularly to Adarsh’s wife and told her that she must follow his instructions to the letter no matter what. She agreed. He asked for Adarsh to be called back to the room.

When Adarsh entered the seminar hall, Raman called him up to the podium.

“Adarsh, I am going to show you something. It is on the plate you see on the table over there. As you can see, the plate is covered. I will remove the covering cloth towel for a full minute. Look carefully and memorize the contents. Everyone in the hall has already seen the plate and its contents. That’s what we were doing while you were out of the room. Please don’t be anxious. The contents won’t be too complicated for you to remember. After you are done, I will cover the plate again and put it away.

“I will then ask you to describe the contents of the plate. I will ask you questions about the quality and quantity. I will ask you to describe the color and maybe even the texture. Again, don’t worry at all. The time given to you is more than adequate to study the contents and answer the questions very accurately. In fact the whole exercise will be a cake walk for a man like you; totally a no- brainer. Are you ready?”

“Yes, I’m ready”, said Adarsh gamely.

Raman brought the covered plate over from the table and held it in front of Adarsh. With a flourish, he removed the cover. Once the designated one minute was up, he covered up the plate and put it back on the table.

“Now Adarsh, are you ready to answer the questions?”

“I am indeed”, said Adarsh happily. The contents of the plate had been simple enough to remember.

He was confident he would be able to answer Raman’s questions.

Picture Credit: Google Images
Picture Credit: Google Images

To be continued… Of Apples and Applesauce (II)

Note: One of my esteemed readers, Anuradha Khanna Pentapalli, who blogs at As I Look At Life, was so intrigued by the first part of the story that she volunteered to write her own version of part two. She has taken up the thread admirably well and has carried it forward- on a different track- beautifully. I am now all agog to know where she will take her story next. You can read her version of part 2 here: Of Apples and Applesauce (II B)

To say I am gratified and honored to have her so inspired would be an understatement. I am particularly grateful to her for writing this even though she was running a temperature. Thank you Anuradha. You have made this story an unforgettable experience for me. Bless your heart!