Wednesday, 30 April 2014
Kripa Sagar: Finding purpose
Ask yourself when the last time was that you did something truly selfless. Because Kripa Sagar does it every time she steps out of the house to run. Whether it is a race or whether it is simply to train.
I remember vividly the day she ventured out to run, it was at the NMSA grounds. She did so, because Deepta, her cousin, was running. It was too close to the SCMM and I honestly did not expect her to keep up the training after the excitement of SCMM dissipated. But she did.
She discovered that running gave her a high like nothing else. She gave up smoking, she became conscious of what she ate, when she hit the bed, of the way she led her life, generally. It made a difference to her and I could see the difference in her.
It was sometime along the way that it struck her that other smokers too could kick the habit if they took up running. That's how she came up with the idea for the event which she calls Take a Breath of Fresh Air (TABOFA). Very conveniently, a trust set up by some of her dad's friends and supported by him as well was working with cancer patients. Kripa decided to use her running to not only raise awareness about the value of running in kicking the smoking habit, she used the opportunity to raise money for the Jana Rakshita Trust.
It was not long before her madness found expression in a crazy idea. She decided that she would run a marathon equivalent distance in every state and union territory in the country. Not only would she run, she would also use her visit to talk to people about how running can wean them away from smoking. In Kerala. in Goa. in Mumbai. Her coach must have initially dismissed her as a mad woman but she talked him into giving her a training plan that would allow her to run effortlessly.
I know many people who run marathons, I know of a few who run the distance once a month as part of their training. They do so to get better at the next competitive event. It is not so with Kripa.
She does so, to send a message to the world. To get them to focus attention on the evils of smoking. Not by preaching. But by sharing her own life experience. It would not be an exaggeration to say that she is a life giver. Because as my doctor friends say, the correlation between cancer and smoking is well established. By making it her mission to get more people on her path, she is changing their lives for the better.
If you have never run a marathon, you wont know what it takes to get there. The training, the pain, the discipline. Venkat P tells me that there will not be more then 5000 people in India who run this distance atleast once a year. A small fraction of them would be women, that number certainly cannot be more than 1000. But Kripa runs the distance every month, at a race if there is one, else she makes up her own event. She trains religiously, she leads a life style that would prepare her for the distance. She does this to ensure that the lives of others does not go up in smoke.
In this she is selfless. And relentless in her pursuit to convert others to her cause. Because she is committed.
The anniversary run of TABOFA is approaching. It starts on the night of May 10 and ends on May 11. Join her on the run, if you wish. Join her to cycle through the streets of Mumbai if you wish. If you can do neither, atleast cheer her on as she does something for the smokers in your family. And if you are a smoker yourself, spare a thought for her. Thank her. After all she is doing this for you. And if you are incapable of being selfless, that is okay. Be selfish. Just don't smoke the next cigarette. Go for a run instead. Or a walk.
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