The Red Football

It was a wet evening in June. The monsoon season had just begun in Bangalore. The playground wore a wet look with water puddles of different sizes everywhere. Tiny droplets of water dripped slowly from the play-area equipment. On one side, the playground was surrounded by a garden that had huge mango and jack fruit trees. On the other side were massive apartment buildings. Children of different ages ran out of the apartment buildings, relieved that the rain was over early. They could resume playing. Cricket was the most popular game amongst the older boys. However, if you were a five year old or maybe even younger, cricket was not an option as the older boys did not fancy small fellows in their cricket teams. Thereby the only option left was to find a tiny spot close by and play by oneself without “disturbing” the older boys. In one such tiny spot near the garden, a bright red ball was rolling. There was a little boy, must have been five years old, with curly, pitch black hair and huge dark eyes. He was practising football — maybe lessons from his summer camp. He did look amazingly professional. The parapet wall bordering the garden was his goal. Five minutes passed by. A three year old boy riding his red tricycle, entered the tiny football ground. He was a little over average height with straight black hair, beautiful eyes with eye lashes so long, that any woman would long to have them. He was dressed in red shirt and blue denim. To make the picture perfect, he wore comfortable, bright red shoes. Red was his favourite colour. The bright red ball was all that he could see. He shed all his shyness promptly and to his mother’s surprise, ran towards the football champ. He convinced the champ to play with him- a novice in the field. His speciality — kicking the ball in the direction, that the ball wished to go.

The game began. The champ decided to practise and from time to time pass the ball to the novice, to do what he pleased. The ball jumped in and out of the water puddles and landed in a sand pit, close by. They ran ecstatically through the puddles of dirty rainwater, staining their pants. By the time the boys reached it, the bright red ball was well disguised in light brown grains of sand. The game was on, the colour did not matter any more. The champ gradually started to give tough passes, making the novice run all over the little football ground. No matter how hard it got, all that mattered was the game, until it got late.

Darkness fell almost instantly over the playground that rainy evening. The apartment buildings lit up with yellow lights. The sound of children laughing and playing gradually died down. The mango and the jack fruit trees stood by themselves in the darkness, with their branches swaying from side to side as the cold north west wind was blowing. The playground equipment stood wet and cold in the wind. The evening was over.

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