Monday, August 29, 2016

The Clown

    "Come on every one, pedal forward, once again. Okay, good ". Deepak tried to pump up everyone on board of the small river raft, but in vain. A few of them on the boat were not even able to speak now out of shock, leave pedaling forward. The moment the raft toppled over the fast flowing river, Deepak knew that he would have hard time with the guests. 

       In fact, this is not the only hard time that Deepak was facing recently. Life already had been tougher for him throughout the year.  He never had any good grades in college to get into a job to earn his livelihood. Like most of the other boys from his village, he also didn’t like spending his time in studies. Most of the time during college he stayed away from studies, with friends doing adventures, trekking some hills, riding bikes for long journeys. They were careless about the future, never had any career goals. But at some point you got worry. Once college was over and everybody in the family started expecting him to do something good, earn them some money, he had nothing but some useless mark sheets to wrap in a file and stand in long queues for interviews, of which he was sure of not getting one in this life. When he got tired of hopeless job interviews, with no capital or ideas to start a business, he was confused. Life seemed to have extracted all the adventure out of him.
Somebody during that miserable phase of life introduced him to the manager of an adventure club, who started river rafting trips in the river nearby. With a dam, which released its water into the river during the overflow, monsoon season was like a boon for the business. During peak season, water was released twice daily into the river, making it a very good place for rafting. The rocky bed of the river, the quick and rapid turns and an uninhibited stretch of ten miles were like the best place for them. Deepak, one of the many local boys employed on contract in the club had their fair amount of money during the season, off season they had to struggle hard for their livelihood.

They had some basic training as guide, and there was not any competition for business. For the initial couple of years life was not bad at all. But last few years there have been new adventure clubs and trip organizers budding in the area, some of them were branches of large travel-business chains. They had the money to employ experienced and specialized guides for river rafting from northern India, some even from Nepal. Deepak's club never had such experienced and well trained people. In comparison to the professionalism Deepak and his lot were nothing to them .
      The flamboyance and catchy online businesses of the other new trip organizers were a big threat to Deepak. Their manager also wanted to hire some high profile guide from up north. Anyone having a bad record was on the verge of being fired. He had to do something to be in the race. He was nervous these days .

      That day also he was nervous, but the fake smile and adrenaline rush that he had to show to the guests of the raft he was leading was hiding the fear and uncertainty inside him. He indeed had a good start. The catchy tag lines and funny names that he invented of the group really pumped up the six girls and 4 boys. Every time he would say something funny, the group would cheer him up. So loud did they cheer on that funny named boat, that other guides felt jealous for some moment.

"Bolo Champa, Bolo Tara", the group would scream " Ah ha " at the top of their voice. Everything looked in sync.

      But the successive rapid turns that came, did the harm. Deepak was confident to get the boat past the whirl, thought to present the group some real adventure.But somehow he didn't have any clue what was coming. One big splash and the raft toppled over. Everything seemed to be in chaos. Some one was holding the rope, someone was flowing fast towards the bank, and somebody was below the raft. Though other boats joined and rescued all, few got minor injuries, somebody drank much water, almost everybody on the boat was in shock.
         Deepak knew he was going to have a bad day ahead, may be got fired by the manager who was waiting for a mere excuse to fire them. The news must have already reached his manager. And if someone complaints about him, he would definitely lose this job. Still he had to try, only one more mile was left for the stretch to end. He had to encourage the guest, he had to make them smile, he had to make them feel good and hope they don't complain much. He had to be the clown.

     ”Come on, this is adventure, such small things happens all time. Don’t lose heart . Cheer up, say loud together Bolo, chidmidi Chidimidi dhoom dhadakaa ", his ears waited to hear some cheering voice from the boat, but there was none. Only thing he could see were the pale faces.

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