Of football matches and heartbreaks

Last week, one wet morning I found myself driving down a pathetically potholed road to the twin’s school to watch a foot ball match. All I know about football can pretty much be summed up as follows:
- World Cup matches happen at ungodly hours
- Players wear knee-length socks
- Said players are violent and often get hurt
- It is dangerous to referee a football match

The only players I know of are:
- Messi (not Messy, I just discovered)
- Ronaldo
- Maradona
- And Black Pearl, Pele (that one I learnt that from an Amol Palekar film)

However, with the son all over me to come watch 'his' match I had little choice. I wasn't even sure he was on the team - he was a substitute. Does that count? I had no idea. For him it certainly did. It was a big enough deal for him to strut about for days bragging about how 'cool' his team was.

On D-day there I was - on the off chance that he would get to play AND manage to strike a goal AND win the game for his team! Yet I was there because since the twins came along I’ve learnt to believe in miracles.

It wasn’t too bad. The light drizzle was pleasant and I got to see first-hand how H managed to come home each day with mud-caked shoes and grubby clothes. The match turned out to be a draw with none of the sides scoring. The teams then took on penalty shootouts. Wonder of wonders H was called upon to play and to take a turn at the penalty kick (the last final deciding one at that) as the teams stood equally matched. He put all his might into that one kick. 

The ball sailed across, hit the goal post and bounced right away - far far from where it was supposed to go. Even as the claps sounded for the winning team I watched his face crumple. I watched him walk away dejected, shoulders down. I saw the tears he was trying hard to hold (This son of mine cries only too easily). I felt what he felt – that he’d let his team down. I wanted to run to him, to give him a hug. But I stayed put.

Finally the teams shook hands and it was all over and I could go to him. “We lost, mama,” he said in a small voice. I didn’t say ‘It’s okay,” because clearly it wasn’t. So I said the next thing I could think of, “You’ll do it next time.” And with that I had to be satisfied.

I was glad I went.

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