“In between the third line and the first line, there is a world to conquer.”
I love to travel by train because of the people. New faces, fresh smiles, unique ways and often kids. I love kids. I once thought that I will have ten kids. Please don’t imagine them to come through normal biological process. Adoption is an option too.
When it comes to love, I have a list of things like family, friends, water bottle, eyeliner, chocolates, ice cream, paneer, ink pen, pizza, emerald and it goes on. These days ‘Badminton’ is on the top.
“I wish I had met you before. Love. Period.”
It all started when I was in second year of my college. Before that, I did not even know that badminton was an indoor sport. Joining the badminton team was mere luck because I was not worth the position, the then captain once told me that I was in the team because of determination. Fair enough. Nobody is born perfect, it is all about the hard work you put in.
Whilst I am writing this post, the kids in my coach are crying and laughing, troubling their dad, kissing their mom, enjoying life to the fullest. Growing up is the best and the worst part of life.
Within the first month I realised that badminton is one of the toughest games. Infinite speed and reflexes faster than one can ever imagine. I am one of the laziest person you will ever see so I was finding it impossible to even hit two shuttles in a row. But there is something called ‘responsibility’. The then captain told me that you have to play and win once I leave , you have to maintain the legacy. When there is a responsibility on your shoulders, only cowards give up before trying. I missed classes, missed gatherings, left clubs to play. I used to play during mid and end semester examinations. One day I realised that I have developed a cyst in the ovary about 3 cm large and therefore it bled for 20 days continuously. Mom asked me not play but I still went to the court. Yes, I lied to her because that feeling when you stand in the center of the court cannot be described in words. With every shuttle you pick, you learn to bow down, every time you stand after a dive you learn to rise after a fall. I can do anything for that feeling. A cyst is just too insignificant to even consider.
There are two kids in my compartment. A little girl, around 5 years old and her brother around 4 years old. The boy is slapping her for not sharing chips ( he finished his share quickly), for not letting him play on phone and the girl is politely asking him to wait. Her parents are asking her to not to cry and give the phone to her brother because she is a ‘good girl’, I think boys are dominant and obstinate and girls are trained to be submissive right from childhood. May be. No feminism intended.
In my second year I went to two tournaments because the then captain wanted all the new members to see how it works because after her we were supposed to develop the strategy, stamina, and the game.
The sound of racket hitting shuttle from the centre gives confidence. I love the way they both meet.
This semester ( third year) I was told that I will play the first singles. Now, please understand the intensity of these words. The hurricane they brought inside me, the ease with which these words fluctuated my heartbeats, worth a lifetime. I started experiencing sleepless nights and days full of dreams. No matter how hard I tried I was unable to concentrate during classes and labs. “A toss and then a drop. Cross net shots would also work. But my backhand is weak. I need to fix that. May be targeting opponent’s backhand is a good strategy”. Such thoughts filled my days and nights.
There is something really amazing about badminton.
It is 8:30 P.M. The kids left with their parents. My order arrived. Three chapatis and a bowl of vegetable. The train is air conditioned yet I am sweating, my scalp is all wet, all thanks to the flavours used in the vegetable. People say that I don’t behave like a Rajasthani because I cannot handle spices. May be.
Did I tell you that the new girls badminton team of NITH has some amazing players? They have been playing since childhood and they literally fly in the court. I wish I had met the shuttle before. Anyways, just before the match, our captain changed the sequence and now I was supposed to play the reverse singles. Let me tell you how it works. There are three matches and every match has three sets. A team needs to win two matches, in all four sets to qualify for following matches.
First singles, doubles and then reverse singles. There is a very little chance that the reverse player would play a match. I was, of course, a little sad because I had dreamt of this day like anything. But the decision was absolutely fair for I am still a learner and we have better players who should get the chance to play. But I still believe, that I should have been given a chance to prove myself. You never know. And if the order was changed after seeing my play, trust me, I would have been satisfied and happy.
Now I have some confessions to make. Even if they make you think that I am a bad person, it is okay.
I wanted to own the court. With every point our team scored, I was happy and sad at the same time. Happy because we were near the winning line and sad because it reduced my chances to play. I became so blind that I could not see anything between me and the court. It became impossible for me to hide my emotions and the watery eyes said it all. I perfectly know that no one is wrong, decisions must be made keeping in mind the team as a whole and I truly respect that, but I chose to not to suppress the tornado in me. Emotions are meant to be felt and not suppressed.
We secured second position and the reverse match never happened.
Three semesters, three tournaments and one dream. I have always dreamt of standing in between the third line and the second line, smashing the shuttle. It is good to dream but the more important thing is to make yourself worthy of it. I tried my best to make myself worthy of it but the hope is fading away. It won’t be okay if I try to guide the team according to my selfish motives. So I thought of taking a break.
There is no substitute for hardwork but what the world notices is the outcome. The journey is known to no one. Not every boat finds a shore. Some drown and die like they never existed. But in the end, what matters is that inside we are proud of ourselves for our true efforts.
When we give our everything to something or someone, it bleeds to see our future without the thing or person. The best way is to take a step back and rescue ourselves from the pain.
I don’t smile to see the runner up certificate because my contribution was nil. Effortless gold hurts, today or maybe someday.
It is 11:30. I reached home. Some new dreams await me.