As announced, the football match between faculty and students was arranged on Gymkhana. bhOndOO was excited to the extreme, not because of the compulsion that girls would also have to play, but because he would be able to settle scores with several faculty who gave him lower grades. I am going to either score goals or make sure that the faculty members fall on the ground, bhOndOO decided.
bhOndOO thought of practising and started running on the Gymkhana ground in the evening. He made wonderful progress. On the first day, he ran for 100 meters before going out of breath. On the second day, he took the second most intelligent decision of his life: he did not go to the ground. (The first most intelligent decision was to be born in the same year as Shami.)
One day before the event, bhOndOO started the game preparations. He tore apart his towel. You read it correctly. On one side of the piece of cloth, he fevicoled tiny metallic pins and wore it around his socks under his trouser, so that nobody could see them but the faculty could taste them!
On the D-day, bhOndOO checked his watch and it was time to go to the ground. But bhOndOO’s mind was not ready. Something is missing. I don’t feel like a complete football player. bhOndOO looked at himself for a while, raised his eyebrows, uttered an involuntary Shit! and ran to BenJi’s room.
“BenJi, do you have studs?”.
“Can I borrow those for the evening?”.
“On one condition.”.
“What is it?”.
“You would return them tomorrow after washing.”.
bhOndOO realized the pun, got angry with BenJi, but had no alternative.
“Okay.”, he agreed.
bhOndOO wore the studs, left his slippers in BenJi’s room and ran(?) to the campus medical shop. You read it correctly again. He bought a cream and applied it to his head in the shop itself. The cream made his hair stand upright. Now Beckham looks like me, he murmured.
bhOndOO ran to the ground. The match was about to begin. bhOndOO saw two teams on the ground: blue versus red, faculty versus students. First person bhOndOO noticed was Shami. She was looking marvellous in red. Even in that moment bhOndOO thought of red as the symbol of love. But the next person he noticed talking to his symbol of love was Gullu and bhOndOO altered the symbolism to mean anger. He looked around and noticed his advisor Prof Krishnamurthy in shorts. He thought for a while and made a sensible decision, I will not hit him, otherwise my PhD would be in trouble. Afterall, he is the only person working on it.
bhOndOO saw a large crowd as spectators. Suddenly, he realized that several of them were looking at him, smiling and talking about him. I didn’t know that they all admire me so much as a football player, bhOndOO wondered and smiled to himself. Then suddenly, someone on the ground shouted, “bhOndOO is here.”.
All eyes turned to bhOndOO. bhOndOO saw a ray of hope in everyone’s eyes. Not only students, but even the faculty members seemed to be looking expectantly at bhOndOO. What has happened to everyone? My Times fortune predicted that people would realize my importance this month, but I didn’t know it would happen so early! Anyway, good for them. Finally, they know my worth.
A sudden cheer of “bhOndOO!… bhOndOO!!…” by the crowd made him proud. I hope I am not evening-dreaming. He bowed down, banged his fist on
his socks, sighed an Aah! and realized that it was real.
He saw Gullu and Dr. Deep, the two captains, walking towards him with smiling faces. bhOndOO’s surprise was at the peak. They are coming to escort me! That’s amazing. Let me not show my surprise.
bhOndOO kept looking at the two captains one by one. When they came near, an expectant smile appeared on the three faces. An awkward silence of 3 seconds was broken by Dr Deep.
“bhOndOO, Prof Hari who had agreed to be the goal-keeper is not able to make it. Can you play from the faculty side as the goal-keeper?”.
Faculty lost 5-0.