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The Bad Words

It seems to be quite shameful/embarrassing/uncool or somehow a taboo to express unhappiness. We seem to shy away from honesty, because who wants to be talked about for putting up a facebook status admitting you are lonely or afraid or something? That’s like giving people the license to judge you for not having friends or being carefree and oh-so-chic: checking in at bars & putting up annoying ‘selfies’. All in the attempt to be ‘cool’. Recently a very good friend called me cool. I asked him what he meant, because I really am not sure what that means, and I’m not sure I want to be ‘cool’. It seems to be such an effort – to dress up, to fit in, to do what everyone else thinks is cool, to do it in just the right amount. I know for sure I don’t fit that description of cool, and I’m hoping I will know what he meant soon.

For now, I’m going to be quite uncool and talk about uncool things.

These days I am filled with anger. Not at everything in general, I can be quite apathetic sometimes.
I’m angry at a stone. What was it doing there? It had no business being where it was, when it was. Who put it there? Why? Didn’t they know that it was dangerous? What if someone twisted their ankle on it? Didn’t they care?

For the first time in my life, I am beginning to doubt that everything happens for good. Everything probably happens for a reason, and what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, but the reason does not necessarily have to be good. That stone did me no good for sure. It got me a 50% ligament tear, and the doctor I was taken to confidently declared, with his feet up on his table, “This will never heal. It is much worse than a fracture.” The words kept echoing in my mind every time I played after this. He was proved right. My young mind had already decided it would never heal, and I would never be able to play properly again. My parents even took me to a sports doctor. After weeks of waiting for the appointment, he showed me a few strengthening exercises and said ‘I don’t want to see you back here again’. He didn’t bother to deal with my fear, that had settled in after what the initial doctor had said. He did bother to collect a hefty consultation fee for the 10 minute visit. I did the exercises a few weeks, never really believing it would help much. I’m angry at these doctors. I’m angry at myself. I’d already given up swimming for hockey, not being able to manage both sports at a competitive level and ignoring my dad’s advice to pick the individual sport.

I’m angry at my coach. I loved her, admired her for her achievements, but it has taken me years to realize that we, the team was just a pastime for her. A hobby she was vaguely fond of, and never took seriously. She was conspicuous by her absence at this juncture of my life, even though I had been hurt on her watch. She didn’t even come with me to the hospital. The 1st time our team made the State Level, I was the captain and had scored the goal that helped us beat our rivals and get us there. She and her daughter, the ‘star’ player, didn’t come to the tournament. We played the matches with a 10 man team, of which 5 were substitutes. Then she upped and took off to greener pastures in the middle of the season, not even looking back, after 7 years of coaching us, to get us a new coach. After a while, making up what I had missed in school and ‘getting serious’ for the big bad board exams took precedence over a dream that had hopelessly shattered. I stopped playing completely, and 8 years later, I look back and see what I’ve lost, with another unmentionable feeling – regret. It’s so clear now because I have met a coach who cares, who has shown me that my injury is not the be all and end all of my life. All I had to do was work on it and it would heal and get strong. In 2 months time I’ve stopped wearing my ankle support, and I’m slowly getting fit again. I want to lecture all the kids who train with me, to not waste their talent and youth, and to value the support they are receiving.

I’m angry at my country. A few days ago London Paralympic silver medallist H N Girisha was running by, when he stood for a minute and talked to my coach. Afterward, the coach asked us if we knew who he was. No one did. Not a single person, myself included. It’s a matter of shame for us. We drool at Vijender Singh and admire Mary Kom. But we know nothing about this athlete who has presumably had to fight against even tougher odds, and brought home a medal for it. Recently there has been a controversy regarding his nomination for a Khel Ratna award, and he has also does not qualify for any benefits given to Olympic winners, like a job at SAI, only because he is a para-athlete, ‘disabled’. I for one think, a differently-able athlete deserves one extra round of applause, especially in our country where they receive even less backing than a non-para-athlete. In another life, I would probably have been a different person completely, born in a country that valued sport and its players.

I’m angry at my boss. My ex-boss actually. After the IPL last year, my career was at a high. I’d learnt so much, gained his trust and was all set to do a great job at the upcoming T20. At 23, I was made Accreditation & Ticketing Manager, and I assisted on everything else to be done for hosting an international cricket match. I felt like I was born to do this job – with it’s stress and challenges. And I was good at it. But there was one problem. An asshole had got himself drunk at the company retreat and misbehaved with me. He said the most sexually perverse thing I had ever heard, with no provocation at all. And what did my boss do? Nothing. He ignored it, and I tried to convince myself that everything has a negative side. I tried to do my job and pull on till the match, and put in my papers to quit the day after. Then it went a step further. I was hauled up by my boss for withdrawing into a shell, and told that what had happened was not his problem, and if I got raped too, it would not be. “Such things happen, you are acting immature”, he said. I called him a coward and walked out. He never called and apologized, I would have gone back even then. 10 days before the match, and I couldn’t see to the end a project I’d worked my ass off on for months. I’m angry because now I don’t know where my career is headed. I’ve not found my groove after that, 8 months later. I’m slowly losing my confidence, while that company is now hosting an international ODI.

(This is a miniscule instance of how sexual harassment is dealt with in our country. Until this attitude changes, there’s no hope for humanity, and it will continue to manifest in terrible ways, and be post-mortemed in the media and at the coffee table.)

I liked to believe in karma. It was comforting. But where is it? I don’t see these guys suffering. They are sailing on smoothly with their lives. I wonder if it’s me. What am I doing wrong?

And I’m afraid. I fear complacency. What if I stop believing in my dreams; and only believe in goals. 

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