On top of the world
|Mornings during summer heat are usually disastrous; it is generally best to sit inside the house in the cooler room and read a book or watch TV. Even the most extrovert personalities would prefer resting over going out in the scorching sun and burning oneself. Summer heat is very unforgiving but it does make men a little bit more pious. What better way to make humans fear Hell's scorching heat other than to ask him to step out of the shade in Kolkata. Only fools will blame these creatures for lazing around in their room and sweating and stinking every time they step out of the house.
This is one of those days which would confuse some people as to whether they were enjoying the weather or not. Suddenly the conversation starter “How do you like the weather?” carried a lot of soul searching and research. You couldn’t just simply answer the question as the answer was no longer obvious. The rain had indeed cooled the surroundings but apparently it doesn’t rain on the sun so the heat would still burn you up. While in shade you would think this is a lovely day for a walk, in the sun you would be wondering who put the magnifying glass between you and the sun.
For Thisme, however, everyday is perfect for at least some kind of sport, and today is perfect for soccer. He had put on his lucky shorts and his favourite Germany jersey. It is generally true that anything lucky has also withstood the test of time and Thisme’s shorts were a testament to that fact. The shorts were also too short and if his jersey was tucked out it would present immediate doubts in the minds of his fellow footballers as to take him as friendly or an opponent. That didn’t bother Thisme much as he would rather wear his lucky shorts and score a bunch of goals than wear anything else. His jersey was his favourite too, although Germany was not his favourite team but there was something very classy about the German white. Thisme’s intention was hardly to show his support for another nation but just to look cool while he went about his business.
There is something very beautiful about a green field with two rectangle goal posts at two ends as the only thing constricting its openness. The field seems to breathe and smile and invite simultaneously although it was actually doing nothing. Living in the city constricted from every side by people, building and other inanimate objects, this open space gives us freedom. There wouldn’t be a single human being in the city who would not look at the field and then try to look for an excuse to take off their shoes and let the blades of grass gently cut their soles.
Thisme loved this field; it was a very new field recently made by the nearby college, he felt sad that the upkeep of this field would not be maintained and soon the grasses will go and this field would have bald patches around. He felt it was tragic that something so beautiful can only be maintained by not using it for the purpose it was made for. The college had strict rules for not allowing anyone to play football on the football field, in order to maintain its chastity. Such an oxymoron of a rule usually survives and thrives in any society. It is true that the field would have been sitting there looking pretty for a few more months than usual if it was not played upon but then it would only be admired and its beauty not enjoyed.
Thisme was never picked last in any sport, but in football he would also be the selector most of the time. Most of the time he was also given the weaker team to play with, as he was never a sore loser and most people loved to play against him. Thisme always took this as a compliment and knowing he was the spearhead of the team, always kept himself away from the confusion of whether he was alone responsible for the victory or defeat in the battle. Once he knew that the teams loss could only be blamed on him, he pounced into action and enjoyed every minute of it.
Today the team was made in the same way; Ravi was the only team member he could actually count on. He was a powerhouse of sorts, brilliant speed and could run the distance from earth to the sun without panting, or that’s what Thisme and his group thought as they had never seen him fatigued yet. The rest of the team would have to do their best and needed Ravi and his support. He commandeered everyone to their roles adding in a good word to everyone. As he did this he felt like a general leading his troops into battle. He felt Braveheart could have used some of the lines he did and promised himself that he would write to Mel Gibson and other more prominent directors. He himself took the central role and sent Ravi up front to run around to free spaces and tire the defence with his speed. The match started from Ravi’s feet, and the ball landed to Thisme’s feet instantly. Thisme had to give Ravi some time to find a place up front so he needed to hold on to the ball, for this he needed support from the rest of the team. A few short passes around the back opened up the field a lot more as the other team had now also spread from their half. Now Thisme wanted the ball, but as always, Thisme's wheel of fortune spun to the million dollar mark but didn’t stop there and went to the next denomination which traditionally is the lowest. One of his team mates felt like Thiery Henry for a brief moment and had thus lost the ball. It was the opponent team's attack now, and Thisme had to trust his teammates.
The first defence proved that he was worthless as he was wearing sneakers on a muddy field, he accelerated to the man with the ball but the slippery conditions ensured the acceleration was in one direction only. A simple dodge to the left rendered him harmless and he spent the next few seconds contemplating whether it would be quicker to take a fall and then resume his duties or try to stay on his feet but helpless to the laws of inertia of motion. The second defence a bit more intelligent ensured the original man had to pass but now the attacked moved to the left wing with absolutely no defence present, it gave the man there a free run to the left corner and he put in a lob to the centre. The ball after a bounce near the penalty spot landed at the mercy of their foe moving in from the right hand side of the field. Thisme’s defence failed to mark him but ensured that they made a wall right in front of him. They closed in on him further as he chested the ball down to his feet and and let out a fierce volley. The ball however chose to ricochet between two of Thisme’s teammates and one adversary like a pinball and landed in front of the goal with a splat. The ball had decided that if he was going to be kicked around then he won’t play anymore and had found an almost dried out puddle in front of the goal, and decided to be friends with it instead.
The goal keeper stuck to his duties wonderfully at this point, but unfortunately he was more stuck to his position than doing a good job. Thisme’s sneaker friend came to the rescue at the dire situation. His thoughts and intentions pure, he tried to clear the ball to the left hand side of the field while his back is toward the enemy’s goal. For this he had to trust that his left leg found solid ground and didn’t give way. But it did. In a wonderful display of agility more preferred in gymnastics his right leg kicked air and left pushed the ball gently into the goal. There is no doubt that he isn’t a traitor and loved his team from the deepest corner of his heart but while the opponents cheered, the goalkeeper felt otherwise and hence suddenly became vociferous as the blood rushed back to his face; it was a tragedy that the goalkeeper did not show his passion for the sport and winning when the ball was still in play. He kept shouting at his own teammate till Thisme came down and asked him to forget about it as it’s just a game while suggesting Mr. Escobar lose his sneakers. Thisme picked up the ball and kicked it back to centre, isntructing himself to calm down and enjoy the field and to somehow forget victory for now.
The match started again in similar fashion. Thisme proved that he was calm by sending the ball again back to his other teammates to enable Ravi to get a good spot. His heart was in his mouth when he was going through the déjà vu experience. The same man again tried to dodge one man and failed, Mr. Escobar however on this occasion did a better job of cleaning up behind him and came up with the ball. Thisme ran up and took a good spot a little further up the field and received a short pass. In this case this pass came short and again the ball decided to befriend another patch of mud and slowed down. Two adversary mid-fielders jumped on the ball but Thisme was not going to lose the ball again without mounting an attack. Almost like a ballet dancer he ran up to the ball and tip-toed the ball away from the two feet reaching for it, leaving both the owners of each foot in an agonising embrace. He turned around and looked for Ravi but another defence probably assigned to mark him had closed him down, so he quickly played a pass to a nearby teammate who in a single touch played the ball a little further up to Thisme which enabled him to cross his marker with the ball without needing to dodge him. With the ball back to his feet and noticing Ravi in a free spot on the right of the penalty box, he played the ball through the air accurately towards him. Ravi quickly received the ball and covered a few metres inwards till he met a defence, he tried a few step overs but the defence wasn’t budging so he shimmied to the right and dragged the ball along with him a little out of the reach of the defence and lobbed a pass to the heart of the attack. Thisme was still at the edge of the penalty box but a few of his teammates had ventured inside, one of them got a beautiful contact with his head on to the ball but it was directed straight at the opponents goalkeeper who parried the ball back out to the edge of the box. The position which was apparently safe to an observer did not share similar feelings here since Thisme was lurking around the spot waiting for a chance to have a go at the goal. Scoring is sweet but after such a quick opener goal this was more like revenge, Thisme just had to get this in.
Thisme was a difficult guy to predict, mostly quiet and cool, looking harmless most of the time. Whenever you would expect him to do something he wouldn’t and remain cool, whenever you would think that he can easily do this he would fail. It is only when stakes are down that he would pull out something from inside him that would astonish and awe people, and that’s the only time he looks daunting and interesting.
The ball lobbed to the edge of the penalty box a good seventeen to eighteen metres from goal, but Thisme had followed its trajectory perfectly and knew where it was going to land. A challenge was coming to him from the left but it would arrive a little late as Thisme had prepared himself to volley it. He landed a thunderous blow to the ball and watched it with joy as it sailed to the top right corner of the goal from his foot. This is an unreachable area for the current skill level of the defending goalie and thus revenge was taken by Thisme. As he watched the ball going in he could feel a rush within him, he felt his blood was boiling and all his emotions were at its peak, suddenly nothing could go wrong and he was ready for a coin toss or any fortune related challenges. It was during these rush of feelings and blood that he generally lost himself and went on cruise control. He knew that this day belonged to him and he was not going to lose, not today.