Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall. – Proverbs 16:18, NKJV
But whether you know it or not, your pride… As long as your pride inside you has space or room to grow big, you have nothing to worry or fear. Pride is like a balloon. But when it has no room or space to grow bigger, it bursts. When it bursts, it hurts and disillusionment sets in.
(October 1992 – March 1999) – JNV Khumbong, Imphal West
By God’s grace, I got selected in the JNV Entrance Test. And I became famous in the small locality. Getting famous even in a small locality meant more pride in me. Already I was famous in my small locality because I was a ‘brilliant student’ at that point in time. And getting selection in the JNV Entrance Exam meant more praises and applauds from people.
And more pride built up inside of me without my noticing. And my balloon of pride grew bigger.
For some reason that year 1992, admission of students was delayed for JNV Khumbong. So I landed in the campus of JNV Khumbong in the month of October with my medium-sized trunk. And I received the Admission Number 332.
The Vidyalaya had Classes VI through XII. I was in the community of ‘selected students’ and I was excited to start a new journey.
Truth be told, I was not good healthwise. Often I would fall sick. My eyesight was already poor because of long hours of reading in candle light. Power supply was pathetic in those days. Candle was the source of light at night.
I learned in school books that health is wealth. I learned it only in my head, but it never sank deep in my heart.
What do you want to become when you grow up? This was the question that began to pop up in my head at that point in time.
And when I was in Class VII, for some reason I decided to become an IAS officer. I never told this to anyone and I kept it in my heart. Towards this ambitious goal, from that time on, I started reading Competition Success Review (CSR) and General Knowledge Today (GKT). These were the monthly student magazines for IAS aspirants. Even today they are popular and regular choice for IAS aspirants.
I used to read these student magazines borrowing from one of my senior brothers. In those days, Competition Success Review (CSR) was priced at Rs. 5, and General Knowledge Today (GKT) at Rs 2. I had to spend Rs 7 every month for these two magazines.
My parents used to visit me in school one or at times two Sunday a month, and they would give me Rs 50, sometimes Rs 100 for my pocket money in those Sunday visits. And I would happily save them to buy CSR and GKT magazines.
Every month, I would buy and read CSR and GKT without fail out of my pocket money savings. The more I read CSR and GKT, I began to focus more on magazines or periodicals, and little less on my school studies. But still I was among the top 3 in the class.
I began to appear in the State Level Mathematics and General Knowledge competitions. Sometimes I secured top positions and my name would be announced on the Radio. And my balloon of pride even got bigger.
When your pride grows bigger, you grow bigger than yourself. And when you grow bigger than yourself, your vision begins to blur. Then you can’t see things clearly in your life. That’s what it did to me.
In this day and age, you are known by the marks or grades you secure in exams. Everything else doesn’t really count in this world. It doesn’t really matter whether you are good or evil inside of you. Now the world doesn’t really care who you are inside. The world looks at the outward appearance, but inside of you is what really counts in life.
But what many people don’t understand is that out of the heart spring the issues of life. That’s why many people fall when the storms of life hit them. Your high marks or grades don’t come to your rescue. Who you are inside determines the next course of your life.
In June 1999, my balloon of pride burst. And I truly sensed my hollowness and helplessness in myself. The reality of life hit hard at my face. At that point, I realized: I cannot save myself. In fact, you cannot save yourself too.
Now matter how strong you are; no matter how many gold medals you won; no matter how brilliant you are in solving Maths or Physics problems, at the end of the day, you cannot save yourself. We are helpless human beings living in an illusion made of pride and self-exaltation on a short-stay planet called Earth.
I passed Class XII in the first division from JNV Khumbong. And I returned home, and in those days, I would fall sick often and feel lonely. The truth is beautifully captured when someone said: “If your pride is bigger than your heart and your ego is bigger than your head, grow up or you will be alone for life.”
It was a time of deep soul searching. Outside, I was a good student. Inside? I was hollow! Outside, I looked calm and composed. Inside? Noises and turmoil filled my whole being.
Before the eyes of others, I had good future prospects. Inside, I sensed the end of the world. Negativity filled me and I was on the verge of the end. I was. I saw no hope, and eventually I saw no life. A moment of inner turmoil and also a moment of deep soul searching.
The Night of June 18, 1999
At that time, I was at home. Not knowing what to do, and disillusioned out of deep despair over my life, on the night of June 18, 1999, I knelt down on my bed and cried to the Unknown, “Please show me a way. Now I see no way before me.” I prayed to God, the Unknown. And I slept very late that night.
The next day surprised me! My brother-in-law and another person came to my house. I woke up late that morning. And while still in bed, I overheard their conversations with my parents. They were talking about a college in Hyderabad.
At first I felt happy in my heart that God answered my prayer. But in the next few days, I learned that the college they were talking about was a Bible college. To my utter ignorance, I never heard about Bible college before that. Yes, I heard about so called Christian colleges, but I never heard about Bible colleges before.
My moments of joy didn’t last long. Dark clouds of confusion began to hover over my head. My decision: I didn’t want to go to that college because in Bible college they teach only about Bible. And I had been preparing myself for the UPSC exam ever since when I was in Class VII.
But deep down inside me, a fierce battle erupted between me and my conscience. My conscience was posing questions like, “On that night, you prayed ‘Show me a way; I have no way before me’, but now when God shows you a way, you are refusing?”
As a god-fearing person, I couldn’t answer that question. You can cheat or deceive anyone in your life, but you cannot deceive your conscience.
Having done well in Mathematics and Physics throughout my high schooling, I used to put questions before making a decision. I did the same this time. Why would God select a Bible college for me? Why God of the Bible only answered my cry while the other millions of gods remained silent? My years of learning in logic and reasoning failed. The only way to find out the answers: I had to go to that Bible college.
And finally, I said yes to going to this college.
One ‘John’ who was working as a teacher at a school in Lamphel Sanakeithel was taking me and another friend from my locality to Hyderabad. On 3rd July, 1999 my journey for Hyderabad began.
I had my own ambitious plans in my mind. My first plan was to know this God who answered my prayer. And then after that, I would secure admission in college in Hyderabad to continue my secular studies to pursue my dream of becoming an IAS officer.