Book 1: Page 52, Para 1

Kalsh you are the one who was standing all the time. We couldn’t even see the show and you ask us who the dancers were? Ha-ha…” and he laughed it off, “Look there goes her boyfriend!” he pointed behind me.

I did not look. I wasn’t afraid of the fact that he might have been better looking or better dressed than me. That boy possessed the company of the one girl whom I very passionately desired and this made his sight agonizing. So I walked away like a man. I believed it to be a crush and forgot it. I will tell you her name. She was christened Aastha. This is a Sanskrit word meaning ‘Faith’ and quite frankly I lost all of my faith that evening. Yes this happens with all teenagers. Infatuation followed by courtship then sporadic despair and finally a matrimonial communion, but it was different with me.

Book 1: Page 51, Para 2

She was leading the pack, standing right in the centre. I couldn’t see her face because the stage was far from where I stood. All the guys around me were cheering for her school. The fat boy on my left was even dancing to one of her songs. I jumped and stood on my toes. I was not willing to miss that spectacle. The girls who were dancing in the background had partnered with boys from another school. I turned around to spot a friend of mine from the partnering school. With bespectacled eyes he sat in a corner jesting at every pelvic thrust on the stage. I wasted no time in finding my way next to him. We had met at last year’s inter school mathematics quiz. He had been kind enough to leak a few of his answers last time. I needed some answers again. Although I did not expect him to be of much help but in those circumstances even the name of the girl would have been a monumental charity.

Book 1: Page 49

Now I must confess a thing or two. I am not good at memory games. This is the reason that thenceforth I lost the track of how my life progressed. The next two chapters might not be in a chronological order. Please bear with me. This problem also arises because of the fact that I never maintained a diary for the purpose of converting it into a book one day.

On one hand the following year was full of new introductions while on the other some old friends deserted me. The first one to vanish was our Lady Penguin Patch-up. I heard that she had left Welham Girl’s school and had taken up a job in a production house in Delhi. She was also going to teach part-time at National School of Drama. So it was obvious that there would be no more musicals in Dehradoon. I was going to miss them a lot, wouldn’t you have?

How funny it is when someone comes in your life and you have to make way for them by letting someone else go. I have learnt, I think to let anyone go. In fact I have stopped crying. For a while now I have grown accustomed to being deserted, although that wasn’t the case when she entered my life… back in the spring of 2006.

Book 1: Page 48

Akshay: ahem…ahem… Do you mind if we enter miss? (He interrupted the emotional moment.)

Sis noticed that I was bothered but she also noticed that I did not object. I was getting accustomed to Akshay’s company in my sister’s presence. In the mean time footsteps stomping the staircase with the bulk of my uncle’s heavy built made an announcement.

Uncle: So how was your trip boy?

The Terminator: Tremendously refreshing. I think we can take on any curriculum now.

He shot the first words to steal the attention. I knew it wouldn’t be possible for me to hide my pain and resentment from my uncle. Though I never wanted to dishonour the S.B.X.P. but it was always a possibility under the towering presence of my uncle. So to minimize our father son interaction Akshay and I left for the hostel the very next day. We took our room-keys. We raced to get the top birth and guess what? I won, though reaching my room on the first floor was rather painful this time. I began panting. This had never happened before. The luggage was the same, the distance was the same, and even the racers were the same. However something felt different this time. I felt a serious jolt somewhere in my right abdomen, as if a very sharp flint shifted in my gut with every breath of mine. I presumed them to be aftershocks of the rollercoaster ride that I had been through. Soon we were joined by other batch-mates and the whole hostel was vivacious. The dinner was served and it was a delight to eat with all my associates after such a long time. The usual fighting, growling and teasing followed the welcome lecture by the principle. No dinner can be complete without the fight for one’s partner’s sweet dish. Everything was the same. Only I ate less than usual. Only I spoke less than usual. Only I fought less than usual. Only I was in pain.

Book 1: Page 36, Para 1

Akshay had found his way right behind me. He had also managed to drag in the tent (although not as neatly as I would have liked.) He was just behind me (always watching my back). Akshay could sense that Keshav was shaking. He would have never gotten us out of there. So Akshay zipped to the front seat and levered the hand brake. In the commotion it slipped my mind that Akshay wasn’t watching my back anymore. So as I leaned forward with my lower abdomen outstretched to get Sahib into the jeep something happened. Something I could have never imagined Sahib doing. He… he stepped on my face. I could not maintain my balance and fell face first on the ground. All my worst fears had come alive. Everyone was on the jeep except me. Keshav was ready to press the accelerator any moment. Akshay was sitting next to the driver’s seat and reassuring him that we would make it; we…this ‘we’ did not include me. I was down on the ground betrayed by Sahib.

Book 1: Page 25, Para 1

…So my holidays were over and I was just too eager to be with my friends again. I was to start this season as the captain of the football team. I had reached a week earlier and had been staying with my uncle. He was my mother’s maternal cousin and my local guardian. People from my maternal side are exceptionally fond of me. Moreover they would very gaily play host to outstation relatives. My uncle famously remarked, “Be happy if someone comes to your home. In this world of many means, no one visits the other without a mean.” We shared a great rapport. However this was only one half of the true reason for my excitement. Three of my close friends and I had joined the Edmund Hillary mountaineering society at school which was a pioneer institution administering measured dosage of adrenaline to teenagers. Not only had we become addicted to this adventure sport but we were also under the impression that we were ready to take on the wild.

Book 1: Page 23

Lady Penguin Patch-up: You did not attend any rehearsals this week. It seems you fancy yourself as “Mr. Know-all Do-all”.
Lady Penguin Patch up
Kalsh: Not in the least Madam. It is just that I am busy with football practice.

Lady Penguin Patch-up: Now, is there something that you are hiding. You knew this would happen. I can talk to your coach. He will surely agree to an arrangement where neither football nor theatre suffers.

Kalsh: Madam it’s not that simple. What if I don’t feel like coming for practice? What if I don’t want to be in your play anymore? What if I choose to stick with being a soccer stud and not a sissy ballet dancer? You are smart enough to figure out that I did not volunteer myself. I got stuck with your crew. I was there for the girls!

Lady Penguin Patch-up: (she shifted to the seat beside me): Son, I know about that night. I have been in this business for 15 years. I have seen actors come and go. Tremendously talented dancers sweating it out to be the best, I have witnessed it all, but when I see you, it is different. You remind me of someone. You remind me that this is not a musical I am directing, but a story that needs to be told. Your perverted intentions are least of my concerns. But today if you give up dancing let me be clear I will lose Edward.
(There were tears in her eyes).
You have the gift. I can see it. Scintillating is the word for your performance.

Book 1: Page 3

Now back to the kick. This was not Italy and definitely not an Italian goalkeeper facing me. So I missed. The ball touched the top right corner and then it occurred to me- A’ Del Piero was left footed!! And I wasn’t.

The ball bounced, everyone pounced and the tallest man on the field, Keshav, made contact with the ball. Not his feet, neither the head, it wasn’t a hand or an elbow, no footballer thighs but a part so intimate that I can hardly mention, but yet he could hardly ignore. He squeaked like a pig whose tail had been squashed!save

But this was not the worse part. Incidentally the ball was now moving towards me and everyone towards him. I had the choice to help the boy get up and forget the kick. I had to make my first unregimented decision and I decided to go with my heart and forget the last eighty eight seconds of fame.

I extruded a shot so fierce that not even a wall would have stopped it. I scored the goal that got us the title of ‘Champions of Dehradoon’.  The goalkeeper was with his defender (Keshav) and the ball inside the net.

I was not on the field anymore. As the referee whistled my teammates made a gesture I can never forget. They lifted me six feet in the air and Anurag, the captain standing in front of me gifted me my dream. Like an elder brother hands down the prodigy of a family. I received a piece of rubber cut like a ring. I might be the only prince to be crowned with a ring and not a crown.  I was now wearing on my right arm Anurag’s band, the captain’s band, it was now my band.

That day I was unofficially declared the captain of the school football team. This chapter is full of terms like ‘Me’, ‘I’, ‘Mine’ and the likes. At this point of time in my life I was at the apogee of my epilogue. Peak in academics, peak in sports, peak in relationships and I feel a compulsion to start this book from the peak. This is the beginning of a long journey. It is the pinnacle of ego where the most interesting revelations occur and here I stooped down below.

Book 1: Page 1, Para 2

I don’t remember the date, but I know it was the first sunny morning that marked the onset of autumn. The two teams were evenly matched on the field and this was reflected in the score sheet. We won a penalty! I knew whosoever makes the penalty would become the school hero. How could I control the urge of self importance? Anurag, the captain announced, “Let Kalsh take the kick.” This was my chance. I was going to make history. This one goal and we would have a chance of becoming the champions after a gap of seven years. I took my place next to the ball. For the remaining thirty five seconds it was only going to be him and me. No teammates; no supporters; no cheerleaders. We had practiced this routine over a thousand times. I had never missed a penalty shot in my whole career. But then again it had never been so important to make one. Alessandro Del Peiro, my favorite player was in my mind. He would come running towards the ball and stop just a fraction of a second  before shooting. He never missed. I decided to go with the same trick. He had fooled Italian keepers a zillion times. I had to fool an Indian. I am not saying that my task would be easier, but yes all the more achievable.

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