My Son Failed By An Inch : Chapter 1

Santo, He Said His Name Was!

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A cloudy Sunday morning invited a breeze that swept past me as I sat in the Community Park by the Calangute beach in Goa, watching him whizz past beyond the last defender and put the ball into the net whilst the keeper was waiting to fetch the ball that would land in sooner or later. He was moving his legs almost involuntarily as if he’d programmed them to do what was necessary. Fourteen, I presume he’d be, not much of age to choose between good and better before things could take a turn for the worse. He was playing as a free spirit, one who had no strings attached or bills waiting- the very spirit which feeds on peace that I hunted for the past few decades and found it here, in a beach house in Goa.

I sat down to grab my veggies and carbs and there he was, walking with the demeanor of a crowed king, his legs replicating the moves he made putting up a highlights of what took place on the field. I smiled and said to myself “Yes, he’s good”. He sat by the window, a table from mine and was taking deep breaths. He must have missed out his oxygen while all he could see was the goal. That was what must have revitalized him and kept him going. I went over to his table and asked his name. “Santo” said he and quietly slipped away from my sight and into the meadows.

The next day was no different. After twenty glorious years at Real Madrid Club de Futbol and hanging my boots before I was called names, the faintest thread that ties this old man to football is the Community Park, its goal posts and the children, few of them building their dreams-courtesy their riches whilst others, expelling their vile on an otherwise dilapidated state of affairs. Such brimming contrast kept me sitting there for hours. Then comes this lad, working his way into the park with clothes fitting just enough to save him from shame and shoes whose fate shall be decided in a day or two. I waved my hand as he looked past me and worked his way into one of the teams. The popcorn moment had arrived. Enthralling the onlookers with his skills, he netted two goals in quick succession before being tackled by a middleweight in the rival team. He skid through and fell to the ground and managed to get away with minor bruises. But his shoes, their time had come. Torn and tattered, he saw them lay on the ground before he’d pack a punch on the tackler. I was certain he’d get back what he has paid and ran to the scene, drawing him away and towards the fountain to wash his blood off. He shed a few tears before pushing me away as though he saw a devil. He ran back away. 

couldn't sit there anymore. The place looked sullen without him as I found my way back. That night, I sat under the serene starry sky and asked heavens if the boy will return to play. All I could hear was the breeze passing by, that very breeze that bought with it a glitter of hope and happiness.

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