Not every word of anger is meant to hurt. A tale of a daddy and daughter .
|“Just one more time ammi. Please. You can save the day for me. Trust me, your well drafted lies can put truth to shame”. Zarin put her palms together- a rhetorical act she always resorts to earn her mother’s favor.
“When will you learn to face your dad? And why this namaste?! Don’t you know it’s not our custom?”, glared her tired mother. At last she ended with a hint of hope, “This HAS to be the last time”.
Zarin picked up her bag and sprinted for the field. Today is a do-or-die moment for her. A team of 130 kids will be chosen for a rugby scholarship.
No it's not a hoax like 4 other times before.
Test matches were organised, spectators were gathered, ticket sales spiked, a grand match was held, thunderous applause overwhelmed the ears. And the players returned with memories, spirits and knickknacks called medals. “Just pose with the cheques, the real ones are on their way” - a usual dialogue that doesn’t stir hope anymore.
“When surviving involves procuring the bare essentials of life, medals and trophies don’t deserve a showcase; they hardly have a market value.” Zarin has heard this from her dad in various occasions. Yet, the headstrong girl is drawn towards the rugby magic.
Today is different, not just because her mother covering up her absence the last time. But rather this is the first time she MIGHT bring home the trophy her father values most - money.
Its morning 10’o clock and her father is in the thick of business hours. A fruit seller in a purely competitive market needs true salesmanship. Low prices, high quality, watchful eyes for customers and thieves, the list is endless when your shop stands in the middle of a street with no walls around. He will be back by afternoon for the lunch that he insists should be enjoyed with the family of four. Zarin knows very well when the end buzzer will ring.
Her brisk walk has now transformed into a full speed sprint. She hates the commute time and more so the mode of transport - always her legs. Her arrival was greeted by her fellow team members and her coach.
“They are lining up Zarin. Quick. Make it fast.”, her coach patted and pushed her to show the process. A quick walkthrough revealed to Zarin, its a REAL selection. Their skills will be tested by rugby players of national stature.
“Oh wow!! I always thought the national rugby team you talked is just a myth!”, a naive Zarin admitted to her coach.
“What?! Do you think it is a good time to joke?” hollered her coach. He instructed her with stony face to put on the jersey and take her position in the line.
One by one, boys and girls were asked to show their skills. The tests were all designed to assess the agility of each player. More she saw watched, lesser her confidence got.
“I am not fit for these elaborate tests Sir. They are too sophisticated for me.”, lamented Zarin.
“Are those orange cones looking scary? Or those bars pose a threat? Is dragging yourself on the ground seems out of the rugby world?”, calmly enquired the coach.
“All of it sir. Every bit of it. You just taught us to love the game and play it. We never had such lessons before.”
“Yes. I taught you all to love the game. And if you love it honestly, then dodging your opponent will make those orange cones friendly. Those terrifying bars will bring back your memory of catching the ball when your feet dangled precariously over those white lines. And..”
Before he could finish, a dazed Zarin added to his advise with a chuckle.
“And when I crawled out of the mountain of players, I actually dragged myself on the ground.”
Her turn came when the sun is no more at the top of her head; its past noon time. She paid no heed to what awaits her at home. All she had before was a rugby game in her imagination. Her spirits shot up each time she took a test. Rugby without a ball was never so much fun for Zarin.
But suddenly, her tests were put on hold by the committee members. Her heart sank as she felt out of breadth. Her desperate eyes looked at the coach. He ran up to her with a straight face.
“You were right . You are not made for such tests. They saw the tigress in you. You are selected” exclaimed her coach. Zarin pinched her own hand hard, to ensure its not a dream. She is now all buckled up for the next game.
She could hear her father’s raging voice while opening the door. He was cursing everyone for saving her back.
“Games are pursuits of riches and such fancies don’t suit the impoverished ones.” blared her dad.
Zarin stepped in with a bubbling temper. She will avenge all these curses with the scholarship earned. The real cheque this time will be a tape on her garrulous father’s mouth. She finally stood before him. With a cold face and burning eyes, she handed over the cheque.
“I hope this has some market value to you.”, she spoke gritting her teeth to stifle her anger.
Her father took it and silently went into the space where they stored fruits for sale. He picked up a white sack. It looked heavy and the stuff inside clanked and jingled. He handed it over to Zarin. She opened it with a frown and the contents mesmerised her eyes. She touched each medal and trophy, which she knew were sold.
“These stuff don’t have markets but they always had value to me.”, declared her stony father.
Zarin smiled with ruddy eyes and a glistened face. She felt relieved as, it was never going to be the same again--just like it was before.