BROWN AND WHITE
Andrew shouted “ gimmie the ball”, but I kept the ball with me only. There was no one behind me and I took the advantage and kicked the ball, I saw the ball going to hit the goal post and I thought this is it , I thought I missed the goal but suddenly the ball bent and it was goal. We won the match and our school crowd was cheering in happiness. The coach was happy with me. Coach-“hey bhuvi, I am proud that you are in our school, take this ball ,keep it with u”. I always thought that the coach was a bit in favour of the English boys but his gesture proved me wrong , he was always in favour of soccer.
I was really happy with my game and wanted to go home and tell the news to my mother but there was some one who hated me like anything. He was Andrew yardy. Andrew was a good player but a selfish guy, he was jealous of me as I was an Indian origin and he was pure English. Andrew in anger-“why didn’t you gave me the ball, that goal was mine, you always want to be the hero”. I replied –“you were surrounded by their 3 defenders andy, we could have lost”. Andy-“you don’t teach me soccer, you blacky this is our game , you go and play cricket”. Poor guy did not knew that cricket was england’s game actually. I ignored him as there is no gain hitting your head into a wall. But ironically hitting your head into a wall was better than talking with Andrew.
I reached home and saw my father sitting on sofa and talking to my mother. I was shocked as I was not expecting my father at home in the afternoon. My mother called me-“bhuvan, come!”. I went to her and what she told me was like a big punch on my face. My father’s job was lost and now we did not had enough money to stay in London. We were moving to india. I hated india but I don’t know why! May be because I hated my father as my father hated soccer and I loved soccer. But my hate towards my father increased as I thought that he was moving to india deliberately. I told my mother in anger-“ I am not going anywhere, this is my home and I want to play soccer one day for England, my finals are a week after and I don’t want to put my team into trouble”. My father yelled at me-“ you cannot see your soccer team in trouble but you can see your family in trouble”.i replied-“I know that you are doing so that I stop playing soccer”. My father replied-“I don’t know anything but what I know is that we are going back to india on Monday”.
I was crying in my room when my mother came in with a glass of milk. She said-“I know you are hurt, but you have to understand your father’s feelings”. I replied-“ you do not see my pain mom, you just see your husband’s pain”. My mother-“I understand your pain but your pain is of lesser important than your father’s pain, you can play soccer in india too, thats your country, I promise you that I will help you play soccer for England but please now do not fight , please bhuvan!”. These words were a sigh of relief for me, I was relaxed someone has rightly said that god is busy all the time that is why he delegated the some of his jobs to mothers.
We landed in delhi in the afternoon. The temperature was 40 degree. I just made up my mind in the long flight that I want to love india but here I was in a 40 degree town with people running into you to make you sit in their respective taxis. My father was happy to see that he was back to india. my uncle came to receive us at the airport. I did not informed my coach about me leaving the school as I knew he will ask me a lot of questions for which I did not had any answer but my gmail account ID was with him and the first thing that I wanted to do is to delete my account. I went to a cyber café and logged in. there was message from my coach.
The message read
I never knew you will do this to me. Andrew was right we cannot trust u blaky’s . you never deserved a place in the team by the way. You will never be a successful sports person,,,,,take my word…u asshole.
I became very angry after reading the message.
But actually I was feeling guilty in my own self. I left a team uninformed, the racial remark was an exception. Some days went away and after a month my father came with what he called ‘a happy news’ but for me it was a sad one. I was admitted in a government school. That night my mother told all her beautiful days in government school so that I don’t feel dejected. But the reality was to come in front of eyes the next day only. I went to my new school. The school was nice in look but somehow the buildings were giving me an indication that the teachers would be very strict.
“so he is our new friend from America” a boy with specs shouted in the class pointing his finger towards me. I corrected him “actually, I am not from America but London”. He tried his best to justify his statement “whats the big deal, America or London, it’s the same thing, London is the capital of America”. After getting to hear this answer one thing was clear in my mind that I had a great chance of coming first in this class. I was missing my soccer very much. I was playing for my school team in my dreams only problem was that I was not lying on the bed but sitting on a bench in the social studies class. The teacher interrupted “hey you, the new boy!”. I could just understand
That much only as in between he used some very genuine hindi words. My bench partner looked at me and said “ he is asking you when did india got independence?’’. This was one of the toughest questions for me but I don’t wanted to make a fool of me in the class and replied “ I think 26th January!”. Every one except the teacher started laughing, I knew I made a mistake. The teacher said “wow, my son, you are the future of this country. You don’t even know when did your country got independence, shame on you”. It was a bad at school for me but a great day after it. I saw ramanuj playing tennis in the school court. He was the only boy who was very nearer to become my friend. I called him “hey ramanuj!”. He came running in to me “what happened?”. I said “nothing, I am surprised that you love sports, I always thought you are a bookworm. He laughed and said “yes , I am still a book worm but tennis is my favourite game.” Wow, there was someone who loved sports. I said “but I love soccer, is soccer available in the school”. He sadly answered “sorry to say but soccer team lost last time and then the principal removed the coach and after that no soccer had been played”. It was a sad news for a soccer maniac like me but still I was happy to be with ramanuj. He invited me in morning to play tennis and I agreed.
Next morning, me and ramanuj were doing a bit of walking so that our body gets warmed up. I asked “do you watch soccer?”. He answered “ you seems to be good soccer player, always talking about soccer only but tennis is my game”. I replied-“ya, you are right, I am big soccer fan but because of some reason I had to leave the London and with it soccer”. Ramanuj replied-“ c’mon , don’t be demoralized, I know it is tough to leave the game of your choice but there are many games here you can pick any game and play, a sportsman is still a sportsmans!. I answered-“you are right ram but….”. he interrupted me-“ do you know bhuvan, I can never play tennis!. I asked the reason. He replied- “I was a cricket player and was just a match away to be selected in my state’s under 15 team but luck had something else in my favour. On the eve of the match day, a truck came and ran over my legs, It took 3 years for me to stand on my foot, still I cannot walk properly”. It was this time that I noticed his style of walking, he indeed was not walking in a normal way. He continued-“bu, I still love cricket, yes, I cannot play the game but I love the game and this is it, I love tennis too and I play it for my happiness, I can beat anyone from my school at least”.
I was so much inspired by this boy’s words that I cannot describe. That day I did not took a bus ride to my home but preferred walking. While going to my home I saw the real india. I saw an old lady with no legs begging for one ruppe, I saw three five year children trying to learn the art of begging from their seniors. I saw 2 people urinating at a public place, I saw one police man taking bribe, I saw a Mercedes car at the traffic lights whose owner opened the window only to throw a plastic bottle. Then I thought about the words of my social studies teacher that it is shame to not to know the day when your country got independence but do these people who I mentioned above were shameless or shameful as they must be knowing the day india got its independence. I came back to my home.
From the next day I started going to tennis court to try my hand on the tennis racket. I played one game with ramanuj and enjoyed it a lot. I played the game after the school too. Ramanuj asked me –“ you are playing well, you can do well if you practice”. I said “ yeah, but I am not that good”. Now I was feeling home in india. I started feeling that I am an Indian, I don’t know why and how but yes now I was an Indian.
I came back to my home at 7 in the evening. My father yelled at me-“ where were you?”. I was with my friend was my answer. He started shouting on me but I ignored him. Actually everytime my father told me the right thing but he never cared about my feelings. He never chose the right time to say those things.
Next day too ramanuj and I played tennis. On that day, govind Sharma saw me playing and was impressed with my play as I beat ramanuj in one match. Govind is a tennis coach who seldomely came to the school playground. He asked my name and I told him my name. ramanuj introduced me as a soccer player. He said-“I am impressed with your tennis”. Ramanuj intervened “he is very good player coach , I think he can represent our team in the brit-indo cup, what do you think”. I asked ramanuj- “what is brit-indo cup”?. He replied-“ every year one player from Britain and one from india play each other and the winner take away the cup, the 5 lacs money prize and the pride”.
I was very happy that I was selected but I needed to defeat another candidate to qualify for the event. Ramanuja assisted me and I worked day and night and practiced hard to play the brit-indo cup. The day came and I was facing aditya Sharma of Lawrence school. I defeated him by 6-3, 6-3,4-6,2-6,6-1. It was a long match and I was very happy after winning this game.
Next day when I was practicing coach came running in to me. He said- “bhuvan the date has been fixed, the match is between you and stuart clark of….. . as the coach was about to tell me the name of the school of my opponent ramanuja inteupted and said-“you should concentrate on practice rather name , right coach!. Coach said –apsolutly”.
The day was coming nearer. Just 7 days were left for the match. I was sitting in my room when my mother came. She said-“how are your preparations for the match is going on? I replies-“everything is going fine, I cannot believe that once a country which was my home is not my opponent, I hope you will come to watch me playing” my mother replied-“that’s why I came here bhuvan to tell you that me and your father will be going to Mumbai to find a new job, ha again lost his job”. I angrily said-“what! you cannot do that , I thought you will be there, I needed your support,,,,,,,,,,,,,alright , no problem, go , I will win myself”. My mother did not showed any sign of sadness on her face and left.
The big day came when I was to play a match against some stuart clark. I did not knew from which school was he but suddenly the announcement was made “representing Britain is stuart clark from oxford high school, London.” I was shell shocked. Now I knew that why ramanuj stopped the coach when he was taking the name of the school last day. It was my school. The school I left in Britain. I never knew that past will come full circle on me. I sat on bench and thought that I will not play , it was heart which was saying that, now it was turn of my head to do the thinking. My brain said –“bhuvan, just remember that letter of your soccer coach, the racial remark, just remember the face of Andrew who hated you like anything and always called you blacky, don’t forget that your father’s job was also taken up by a britisher, how can give up, raise yourself and for the first time in your life enjoy the proud of being an Indian”. I stood up , took the racket in my hand and stepped forward. My name was taken and there was huge cheer for me but mixed in those cheers was the sound of booooos which students of oxford school were making.
It was his service and he justified his tennis talent with the first serve going out of my reach. He did that for four times with me and I lost one point there. I was ready to move in my right to handle his serve but this time he served at my left and again the scorer said 15-0.
This time I was focused. He served again , this time on my body and I lost the point. There was no one cheering for me now but all the oxford student who came to support their school were busy in booing me. This time it was my serve. I was down by 0-4. I needed this point badly. I was not able to concentrate because I was feeling bad about that day when I had a fight with my mother, I was feeling bad inside that I never gave importance to my father. As I was thinking all this, the crowd started boohooing me again. One of them shouted-“what happened! You are still a loser…hahaha”. I was about to cry when someone from crowd shouted-“c’mon son, tell this whites how it feels to be a brown, c’mon do it for your country”. I turned my head to left and saw my father cheering for me. I was shocked. My mother too was sitting beside him. He started cheering me “bhuvan, bhuvan, bhuvan……….bhuvan and then all the Indian crowd joined him.
The scorer requested everyone to remain quiet. I concentrated again and served hard and fast. He was nowhere near to my serve , my school crowd started cheering. I finished two points in my favor. The score was 2-4, still favouring staurt but now I was in the game. Stuart served but this time I tackled his serve, he smashed, I touched he ball and it landed just before the nets in his court and I won the point again. This set was won by me 6-4. I was in full flow. But I lost the next two sets by 3-6, 4-6. This was my last chance to stay in the game, the fourth set started and he served to my right I smasehed…he did the same. The ball was going to my left and I was far away from the ball, I flew in the air and hit the ball, he hit the ball to my right now , I again did the same and won the point. After lot of labour, I was able to win the fouth set by 7-5.
It was down to the last set and last point. We both were at 6-6, and now whowver wins this point takes the game away. I served and he missed, the score was 15-0 in my favor. I served again, this time he bac handed the ball and I missed the ball, the score now was 15 each. I served again and this time I positioned my body to serve to his right but actually I served to his left (this was taught to me by ramanuja). He missed it and I was up with 30-15. I told my self that I have to take this point and I served very hard on his body, he was not able to tackle the serve and now I was able to smell the victory. It was 40-15 in my favor. I was happy and served very fast. My mind was not concentrated and I hit the ball at nets. Now, I served in my second try, did the same blunder. I shouted in disgust. I was unhappy with myself and so was all the Indians. This time stuart served and I was still not concentrating because I was very angry over myself. He gained one point and score was 40-30 still in my favor but serve was with him.
If he wins this time then it will be deuce, then I had to win one point to take the advantage and then again I had to win one more point. I do not wanted that to happen and one thing was sure that stuart too did not wanted that to happen. He served and I missed. I heard the scorer saying the D word- its DEUCE.
We both now had equal chance of winning. He had the advantage as serve was still with him. He served to my right and I could see the ball passing me, I did not wanted that to happen and I flew in the air and smashed the ball back to stuart he ran to his right and hit a back hand shot, I responded in the same manner, he touched the ball and ball landed just before my nets, I ran in hard to hit the ball back and luckily I was in time and hit the ball hard, he was very far away from the ball and missed the opportunity and gave me the serve back. Now, the advantage was with me, one good shot and match was over, I again served hard but again I hit the nets. I became nervous. I served again in my second chance but my hands were shaking and due this I again hit the nets and gave the serve back to stuart. The English crowd became happy. I shouted at my self-“what are you doing bhuvan!”. Ramanuja shouted –“be calm bhuvi, be calm”. He made me come back to calm mode. I saw my father’s face. He was nervous and wanted me to win. He gave me the all the best sign and I nodded my head. Stuart served again and I smashed back but my ball touched the top of the nets and landed just before the nets in stuarts’s court. The serve was back to me. Ramanuja shouted-“yes,,,,yes,,,,yes…”. I could sense his nervousness. I did not wanted to loose this opportunity now. I got to know that why all the time I lost the serve- the reason was that I wanted the britishers to loose, I never wanted to win. I always thought in a negative way but now I wanted to win. There was complete silence. I could hear stuart taking breathe. I served very hard to stuart’s right and the serve landed on the perfect spot but stuart tackled the serve, he hit the ball to my left , I back handed the ball to his left, hi hit to my right and I hit to his left …..the ball was far away from him but he flew in the air and tried to hit but the ball touched the nets instead of coming to my side. I saw the sign of disappointment on staurt’s face. I won the match.
In the post match ceremony I was given the mic to say few words
I want to feel sorry to all the students and teachers of oxford high school. I left your soccer team in midway of a soccer tournament without informing. But your soccer coach in return called me blacky and said that I will never ever become a good sports man. I have not proved anything to any one here. I just want to say one thing that 60 years back your forefathers left this beautiful country of black people as you say in a very disgust situation, we never complained about anything but just that I left your soccer team midway, you people lost the act of being human. I also want to say one thing that next time you want to call us don’t call us blacky as we are brown and me bhuvan pratap singh is very proud to be brown. It doesn’t matter who is brown , who is white, a game still is a game with lots of colour
Thank you very much