The Football Boy is a motivational story of a kid who challenges the world in his love for football.
But he looked unperturbed as if he was determined not to do anything with his foot. Even he did not allow his right foot to touch the tip of the grass. Whatever he did he used the left one.
Every time I bought a football for him, his eyes glistened not in happiness but in depression. I wished him to try at least. I pretended not to observe him when he stood in front of the mirror and kept looking at his right foot, in disbelief and detachment.
Even sometimes he approached the ball and touched it with the tip of his right foot and then started sobbing.
I told him. But he remained silent. His calm posture tormented me, accelerating my tension.
2021, 2nd March:
He was one of the best footballers in the junior football team. My son, my Rohon, was only twelve then, with dimples in both checks, always filled with smiles and exuberating happiness.
His school organised a football match on their silver jubilee. He was mad in excitement. Nothing he talked about except football and the techniques he acquired with hard practice. He slept with football, ate with football, and read football. He was just crazy with his inexorable passion for football.
“Pele or Maradona?”
I was in the gallery when he was skidding in the school field like a rabbit along with the team.
All the people, parents and teachers and friends, were jeering at them. I watched Rohon looking confident in his blue jersey. Like a blue bird, he was darting towards the opponent with great agility and vigour. It was a spectacular sight. Little boys in blue and red were marching along the field in sovereign delight. The ball was changing sides again and again. A red jersey passed the ball to his teammate. Rohon was trying hard to grab a chance. One boy gave a long pass that almost entered the goal box if the goalkeeper could not defend it. I looked at Rohon. He bent his legs and swinging his chest backwards again pushed it forward. His slender abs were glistening in sweat. Then he pushed his neck forward and positioning himself perfectly, pushed the ball with his head. At the same moment another boy, just opposite him came running for the ball and collided hard with him. Within a blink of an eye, I found Rohon lying on the ground, writhing in pain. I screamed out and started running towards him ignoring everything. Immediately, the teachers and health team were there. The ambulance came and took him. His right foot was fractured. After some diagnosis, the doctor applied a plaster cast for six weeks and advised not to move it for three months. But even after one year he never tried to do anything with his foot except limp cautiously. He put his whole pressure on the left foot and used the right foot only for balance as if it was fragile, made of glass.
I never saw his dimples filled with smiles from then. He remained sad and silent. That chatterbox whose mouth never stopped even in sleep got silent. That relentless passion for playing halted with an abrupt turn. His brooding face seemed forlorn and dejected. He remained silent, alone and afraid. Sometimes his eyes burned in an inordinate rage and sometimes they were just haunted by fear or shadow of it. And my heart broke into thousand shards, oozing silent blood.
I consulted the doctor. He advised me to take him to the field again. I had no desire to take him to the same battleground that snatched so many things from him, from me.
The doctor insisted that his leg was cured but he was in fear. We had to break the trauma to make him normal. I hired a good coach at the house and tried to bring back his lost love. But nothing worked. No one could crack the shield of panic cloaking him. Persuasion, scolding nothing worked. He denied touching the ball with his foot.
Then I started taking him to the school ground where every afternoon the coach trained the students. We watched how the students passed the ball, how dribbled, threw-ins, defended and more.
And it was almost over one month…our sitting in the gallery and watching the others playing. Rohon watched the boys playing and I watched him, his eyes sometimes sparkling, sometimes sad, his hands and legs etching to touch something but then all subdued…all agitation dimmed under the shroud of trepidation.
One day we were leaving the ground early before the players packed up. As we were crossing the corner towards the school gate suddenly a ball rushed toward him. I shrieked in fear. It was about to knock Rohon down. But he rose his right foot and kicked it hard to the field. He stood there transfixed as if stunned at his own transgression.
The coach again threw the ball lightly towards him. It halted in front of him.
“Kick it”, I whisper.
His friends shouted out,
“Pass the ball Rohon.”
They grabbed the situation and tried to break the phobia.
The situation grew tense. No one came to fetch the ball. Everyone waited for him.
“Pass the ball Rohon, pass it.”
Rohon was looking fixed at the ball. Maybe he was hovering in distrust and disbelief.
Finally, he raised his right foot and kicked the ball. It just rolled a bit and stopped. He marched on with stubbornness and kicked it again, hard. The ball flew up and bumped the goalpost.
I stood there in amazement and tears. Rohon started running through the ground yelling and crying at the same time. Standing at the corner of the ground, I kept watching the blithe spirit ready to fly again.
Hey, I am Munmun, the phoenix fabulist who wants to tell you stories. I love to read stories and I love to weave stories. I feel life is an amalgamation of multiple stories, colourful threads, and threads of pain, pleasure, hope, and hopelessness. We just need to pick those hues and arrange them, knitting them with our own emotions and perception. So let’s celebrate the stories of life.