I ran 4 x 100 in school. I was always the first runner. But that was not because I was the fastest but because I insisted. I insisted because I couldn’t grasp the concept of someone passing the baton to me.
I had to be the first one passing the baton.
Don’t get me wrong, I did try once in a while to receive the baton rather than being the first to pass it, but more often than not, I dropped the baton when I received it. No matter how ready I was, I was always taken by surprise. Somehow.
I know why, though.
The baton came from the back and I was running forward. Sometimes, I had to look back to see if my teammate was coming any closer. Then, I would see whether or not she was slower or faster than the other teams.
And that makes me lose my focus and of course, lose my speed. I know now that being the subsequent runners is a skill and an art. My job as a first runner was only to begin and to make sure that I was the first team to reach my second runner. But of course, that doesn’t make me any less important of course.
Because I was always the first to face the music. I was always there at the starting line. The white chalk beneath my spikes (or at times, just bare feet) unnerved me. Foul starts made me want to vomit. I felt the burning sensation of sprinting even before my sprints began.
And when I finally reached my second runner, I’d have to wait with bated breath until my last runner makes her victory run. Or not.
Somehow, that athletic streak stuck with me up until now.
I find comfort in the burning sensation in my chest every time I run out of breath. Disturbing, I know. Only now, I am a lone runner, sprinting. Just sprinting.
And right now, I feel like I am at the starting line, just like old times. Complete with pre burning sensation and everything. And after so many years of practice, I still can’t be taken by surprise.
Except good surprises, of course. Even then, I’d still cry.
I’m waiting just outside the lines. For good and better reasons, I am sure of, insyaAllah.
I’m waiting. I’m waiting.
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