For the Love of the Game

Come on Shiela, our son’s playing!“ Kumar was ecstatic jumping with joy watching the idiot box in their new flat.

The Kumar’s had just moved to the locality; shifting to a comfortable three bedroom apartment, a great relief from the dark and dingy single bedroom flat where they had lived for twenty long years! All thanks to their son Vijay!

Vijay was just eight years old when he started showing interest in cricket. Seeing his curiosity in the game, Kumar (who was an ardent fan of the game too) decided to enroll his son with an acclaimed coach in their town, against all the economic constraints.

Kumar knew his son was just another face in the crowd where each one was trying to trample his way up to the top; more significantly he knew he was one of those millions of dads who believed their son would one day play at the National level. But he decided to keep hoping. A tough choice; naa the only choice!

And progress his son did; slowly but steadily gaining a footing here and a grip there, amidst the slippery and slimy slope of the politics of the game. Pleasing one coach after another, showing his talent exuberantly and gaining the confidence of a few board members Vijay had managed to reach the pinnacle of the sport which had become his life blood.

There had been times when he had to make that all crucial decision between studies and his first love and no, he didn’t have to think long as to which side he should take. His progress had been phenomenal and he was finally playing at the top level.

He had been in the team for the past one year, which consisted of several unforgettable wins and moments. He had done well till a few months back; and when all things seemed to move smoothly, a certain bad patch had set in and he was suddenly found lacking the form which he had become so famous for.

What are you screaming about? I know he’s playing. So the top three are out already? Poor Viju; now it has to come down to him again. Why can’t they select better batsmen at the top?“ Shiela knew just enough about the game to always see her son as better to the rest.

Very bad score indeed; and we still have so much to chase!“ Kumar was shaking his head solemnly. Deep inside he knew pressure would be mounting on his son already.

But surprisingly, Vijay seemed to have taken stock of the situation and was playing some remarkable strokes. And just when he was looking most confident Vijay’s wicket fell, thanks to a careless decision by his partner at the other end.

This is what happens when you have no idea where the ball is and start running just for the heck of it…“ the commentator’s voice trailed behind.

But that wasn’t his fault!” Kumar’s despair was obvious. He was watching all this with his hand over his head. “Oh god, why are you troubling him so much? He deserves somethig better.‘ He was in tears again. But there was a bit of anger too. ‘He should have known!

Oh no; if I am getting so angry with him what about others watching this!‘. Sometimes feelings can get intermixed so easily, you never notice!

He switched off the television and went back to his room.

Jagannath was horrified. He and around fifty of his colleagues, at the town paper factory, were watching the match all quiet, each trying to subdue the unmistakable anger lingering in the air. The local boy had fallen once again; no wonder due to some lame running at the other end, but he had fallen and that was it. No excuses, no complaints. He had let them all down.

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