Sunday, January 1, 2012

Game Over

This is the first day of a new year. But right now, catharsis is the cloaked stranger on a foggy night. From this vantage point of my despondency, I can't even make out its sallow nose. I once told Versh that while she will write about the birth of dreams, I will write about their death. Here we are, then.

Three years. Three semi final losses.

But this time it hurt the most. I let Shinde ke Parinde down. And they didn't deserve it. Not Sidhant, with his well-timed challenges and crisp through balls. Not Khaleel, with his quiet confidence and fair tackling. Not Gautham, who dislocated his toe while making a brave save. Not Ash, who inspires me in so many ways (and who had a great tournament). Not Ameya, whose nippy persistence led to the goal against the Captain's side. Not Divij, who did his best when the Captain was on his rampage. Not Baba Surek, who came looking for me when I was bawling my eyes out that night. Not Jassi, who came despite the moot and who taught me so many things in that talk we had after the hearing. And of course, not Mrin, who knows I can never get over this.

That free kick in the dying moments (moment?) in the semi. I thought we'd won it. We had clawed back to 2-2 after being 2-0 down. I saw a gap, I took my chance, it went in. My t-shirt was in the process of coming off. Just like I'd seen it in my mind's eye. Sidhant later told me that he knew we'd lose when that goal was not given. I can't say I don't see what he meant. If I had to pick a moment that was the death of the dream, it was when Nath asked me to re-take, and I saw it ricochet of Danny, and heard the whistle signaling the end of full time.

Karpet said that we should have won the tournament because we're nice people. But that doesn't matter, and shouldn't. Great athletes win tournaments, whether they're nice people or not. On the following night, the Captain and Karpet (both great athletes, both great champions. Incidentally and inconsequentially, in this context at least, both nice people) played out a final I couldn't bear to watch. At the exact moment when the Captain would have scored that winner he will remember forever, I was lying in bed, pretending to be asleep, grappling half-heartedly with demons that are probably deserved.

In the aftermath, I've tried to pretend that it's all good. Like these things happen. But the gnawing remains persistent. The teeth of inevitable defeat have gotten more blunt with each passing day, but there seem to be more of them. Hordes of rounded molars mildly rubbing themselves against each other, and the insides of my stomach. And this is only the physiological effect. Predictably, Lolo has seen right through it. When I rushed out of Juris class the day after, too overwhelmed, I didn't even entertain the idea of pulling the "I-just-went-to-the-loo-to-blow-my-nose" on her.

The chase remains futile. The little prizes remain elusive. If the words in this post are jurors, there has been a failure of justice.

Game over.