Sunday, April 22, 2007

Bhayankar Erratas

Mahatma Gandhi once said something to the tune of "Freedom counts for nothing if you don't have the freedom to make mistakes" (I wish I could quote such quotes verbatim but I always end up using terms like 'something to the tune of' ). It's good that he said something of that sort because it allows me to use it as an excuse for playing down all or at least most of my fauxs pas (or whatever the correct term is). So yesterday, a dull football match got me thinking about a lot of instances that I would like to go back in time and change the approach or action that I opted for then. Thanks to my dwindling attention span and ebbing long-term memory, I could come up with really few instances which I'm going to talk about here. Names will be withheld here for diplomacy issues in some places and in others, only because it will be a little too easy to know who I'm talking about.

- The game was lost and we had barely seven more minutes till the final whistle could relieve us of our misery. He hobbled up to me and bleakly asked me if he could sit out the last few minutes because his ankle was swelling up badly. He was not one to ask out with little bruises and wounds. I knew that yet I failed to realise the intensity of this injury. And I asked him to carry on and see out those last seven minutes. For a lost cause. Astonishingly, he silently turned and went back to what he was out on the field for. He could have argued. He could have made the decision for himself because he was the skipper and not I. But he just went back and saw out those seven horribly painful minutes. Maybe because it was in his nature to fight with no regard for pain. Maybe because he had been let down by the one person he deemed capable enough of making the right call. I'll probably never know. But thanks to my decision, he missed the next match which of course, we lost so that this incident could be left as an indelible mark in my memory. He did watch us play the last match from the sidelines. If I can claim to know him at all, watching our defeat that day from the sidelines would have hurt him as much as, if not more than, his bandaged ankle.
- The same game. Trailing 0-2 with very few intrusions from us into their box, a loose ball fell close to my feet. With two opposition defenders on either side of me, my mind raced for a decision. I could take the shot with not the best chance of seeing it cross the goal-line because I was well outside their box. Or I could take a touch which could let me get away from the sandwiching defenders so that I could follow it up with a shot with some 5 yards lesser to cover. I opted for the former and saw the ball loop safely into the keeper's hands. It didn't take me more than an instant to know I had opted for the wrong option. That one goal could have changed the face of the game. I had blown my team's best chance to regain hope and to make it worse, it all went only downwards from there.
- Friday night. A lounge. 80's pop sounds getting people to sway in their seats, a little conscious of being the first ones on the floor. She passed a slightly intoxicated (note, different from intoxicating) look at me and put it into innocent words, "Will you dance with me?". Slightly stunned, paranoid of implications and remote complications, and defintely aware of my lack of dancing skills, I mouthed a stupid excuse to back out. The disappointment on her face was momentary but it hit me hard. I could have let faith override paranoia and intoxication override missing skills. I could have made a different decision instead of the seemingly indifferent one. I lost out on a warm smile.
- Over the phone, which was how we had spent much of our time together, I kept things straight and let her know how things would be henceforth. I wasn't surprised when she broke into tears then. But then the weeping went on for a few minutes. No questions asked of me, no words spoken. Just her soft cry in my ears. I should have said something comforting. I could have just held on to the phone in the hope that she could at least find some support in my silence which was pretty much the only thing I could now spare for her. Instead, I chose to hang up thinking she needed time alone like I did. And in that action, I forced upon her my therapy for grieving with no thought for hers. I didn't think much then at the age of 16.

Damn, this has gone long. And as I scroll downward, I realise my weblog has slowly become more of a criblog. I gotta get Dave Barry to ghost-write stuff for me here.


Abhijeet said...

super regrets abt football...wish i wud have cleared the ball off the line than try n stop it with my right foot...damn...still cant forget that damn error...n the other one...dying stages of the last game...ball at my feet...no1 marking u...u asked for the pass..but again wrong decision n i kept goin solo...afsos end! :(

The Neverknown said...

the good part is i have more sweet memories of those matches than recurring nightmares. i bet that applies to each and every one of us who took the field

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