It’s a Goal!!



Amidst the quietness of the fog in the south-east Asian mountains, two young men sat under a thatched roof, eyes glued to the television. Trying to keep themselves warm in the tattered shawls. Eyes filled with the most striking hue of anticipation, fear and hope. In the near corner of the room a tan lady brews a pot of tea, taking frequent glances over the small television. Out came the roar! The two men hug and scream and cry as the black and white ball is made to dodge the defenders and hit sharply towards the majestic goalpost.
The lady doesn’t understand the elation of those young men, she clumsily pours the tea and with a tired “These Kids” leaves the room. The joy of those men has no bounds! Tonight they’ll celebrate. Tonight they’ll roast the deer they’ve been saving for a special occasion. Tonight they won’t sleep with their stomachs growling. After all, their favorite team was in the finals!


Champagne glasses tinkle, pudding is served and brief chuckles can be heard from the sumptuous living room of Mrs. Harper. It’s like the whole of London was celebrating tonight. Her husband and his comrades were the happiest people and football was the topic of discussion. FIFA was the life of the party that night, and the English player Steven Gerrard was the hero. Tonight called for celebration, England had a massive win!


Brazilian flag was swaying in all directions in Markus’ hostel. All the boys in the building cheered and danced. Yellow was the color. Football was the game. Rio de Janeiro had never been this festive. Colorful banners, music, drums and parades were seen. Nothing could be compared to the exuberance of the Brazilians. And Markus, he was seen dancing with his boys.


I find it absolutely enthralling how the whole world breathes and lives football. The World Cup period is blazing with passion and support for the respective teams. I see generations-young and old. I hear the prayers of the people, giving in all they have just for the sake of their team to win. In the stadium, where the action takes place, it’s so wonderful to see those thrilled souls, cheering for their team-their country.

Football has unified the world in a miraculous way. A phenomena that never fails to amaze me as I think of it. Millions of people watching the same game; in the posh living room of New Jersey or a small cafe on the road side. Silent gasps are taken together, hands cover the mouth as they try to take in the current of the game, people hold their breath, as their teams struggle to hold up their spot. I see people of all race, all religion collected as one. Celebrating as one. Cheering as one and even grieving as one.

There is no me and you, but only us. The term -WE is used more. “We Won!” , We Lost!” , “We’re in the finals!” “We Qualified.” It’s amazing how the human can be so passionate about something. Football welcomes boys from small towns with big dreams and with prominent hard work, transforms their dream into reality. For me, I hear my brother cheering in the midnight, giving up sleep, giving up his work, not caring if he’s tired, just for the sake of watching football live. (The football games air in Asia at night)  I applaud over this spirited game! The exorbitant spark in the eyes of the people. Football, amazingly manages to unify and bring an astounding exhilaration in this world brimming with fear, racism and hatred.

The whole world awash in the spirit, color, passion, energy and euphoria of this wondrous game!

“11 players, 1 heartbeat.”

or should I say,

“7 Billion people, 1 heartbeat.”


Golden Jasmine.

It’s a bumpy ride. A rather funny one, I suppose. I see heads swaying in various directions in perfect synchronization, as the bus roars it’s way through the crowded market, unsuccessfully trying to dodge the potholes and the badly constructed road (I’m not sure if it was even close to being called a road). I glance a look outside the blotted window, men carrying herds of goats, hoping to find a good pasture for grazing. And sluggish goats trying to make way, still drooping from the morning laziness. Rich men negotiating a deal for a proper slave. I see ladies in fancy gowns, with a matching umbrella (probably protecting them from the sun that never shone in these parts) eyeing us cautiously as the bus passed the market.

I closed my eyes and breathed the damp air. The sky was overcast (which was a common affair here) and it was really soon when there was a downpour. I closed the window to protect my sweater which Mother had so firmly sewn. She had stitched a jasmine in the center and green stalks protruded out of it in the direction of both of my arms. Father once told me that the day I was born thousands of Jasmines had blossomed in our garden. “It was magical,” he had said.

Although living in a foster home wasn’t something I’d expected since the day I came to know the meaning of the term Foster. But it all happened too fast. Father never returned from work and mother hurriedly packed my things in a small jute bag and while she helped me hop into the cart, I felt the very last sensation of her lips on my forehead, and then she was gone. We reached a street, not very far from the market. The houses were all the same. Brown roof and cream walls. It all looked like one big chain of perfectly aligned squares. Walls were moistened from the rain, people trying to cover their roofs with plastic  sheets to prevent dripping in the rooms.

The jasmines in this town changed colors. Every season marked a different color and to my fascination-this season they were golden. Not the neon and sparkly one  but a soft yellow glow like that of a firefly, only lighter.

We were each led to our assigned houses. Mine was the same as the rest. A lady in her early 40’s, yelling and cursing the children to work. The man of the house oblivious to the miser condition in the home. On my first day to the local school, while my teacher recklessly took the attendance, something else caught my attention. “Jasmine” No response. “Jasmine!”

Startled by the hysteria, I called for my presence which was just physical, for my mental self was far away in the fields. In the recess, I skedaddled my way towards the other side of the pastures, near the oak tree; jumping over the hill and the ridges till I was finally standing over him, overshadowing his enormous body. He was a man in his late 60’s. He wore a brown coat which looked worn out and a grey hat covering his left eye. The lines on his face signified he worked hard and his hands were covered in dirt. Streaks of  ripe gray hair resting in the unripe brown ones.

Popularly called Mr. Tuberk, he glanced his way up, “What are you doing here little one? Shouldn’t you be at school?”
“Yes, but I ..”

Perhaps he understood why I had come when he noticed my attention towards his Mouth Organ. Not a very fancy one, but it was a wooden rectangle, polish withering out from the corners where it was carefully and skilfully carved  ‘T&G’.
“You like it?’ he said with an amusing smirk. I nodded. Apart from Jasmine’s I had a fascination for music. In my previous town I used stand outside the sumptuous bars just to listen to the music they played in the evening.  It had hardly been a week when we became from strangers to friends. Every day I  anxiously waited for the school to get over to see my friend while Mr. Tuberk never failed in welcoming me with open arms.

He used to play his Mouth Organ and I listened and waltzed around. The tune permeated my soul, lifting it above. Occasionally I used to save the sandwiches from recess while he brought some chestnuts and we used to eat them in the evening breeze, saving some of the leftover chestnuts to munch later. I sometimes  wondered if Mr. Tuberk ever had any family. Or why did he prefer being alone under an oak with a 10 year old girl rather than drinking and laughing in a bar.

I saw a sad face with a defeated smile when I asked him the reason for his solitude. “You ask why I like your company? Do you know that a jasmine soothes the air with it’s perfume and removes the stench away. Who wouldn’t want to be around the scent of the pacifying jasmine.” I looked down towards my sweater confused. Did my sweater had a scent? Maybe mother cast some magic spell.

Mr. Tuberk laughed briefly. “I had a daughter just like you. Gemma. (T&G – Now I see) She used to love my Mouth Organ. And every evening we used to sit here and I played while she read a book or sang along. It was our favorite part of the day. Sadly she came with a little time on earth. That’s why I still come here every evening, reliving her presence, maybe the soft breeze or the shade of the oak bring me some refuge. Ease my pain a little. Clean the stench of her absence, mend what’s broken.”

It was very soon when I realized what he meant. My sweater certainly did not smell, but it was ME. I WAS THE SCENTED JASMINE OF HIS DRY GARDEN. I was the rainbow in his clouded sky. I was the sunshine in his foggy street and I was the thread he was holding on to. I did not respond, but we continued to meet up in the evenings and played and danced until the moth hour of eve. Or sometimes even after that, when the little white pearls peeked out of the black velvet sky. Like dazzling diamonds carefully mounted over a black elegant cascade. We gazed at those selfless friends above, while a soft wind swept the arena- making the oak leaves above rustle.