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  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points

                     ‘What!’ Auntie was aghast. ‘It is they who will be cornered by you.’

                    ‘Doesn’t Sarathi need you any more?’ Himadri raised his brows. ‘If they allow you to go to Jatri, what will Bata do in the elections?’

                     ‘The matter is not about needing or not needing me; of course they will try to keep me back by money. Even though Bata Biswas doesn’t like me, he knows that no other player would provide service to the club the whole year round like me. The Sarathi supporters also know that. But Bata Biswas will try through some of his lackeys to harass me in the field throughout the year. If the results do not go in our favour, his boys will throw bricks at and set fire to the tent, create a ruckus and lay the blame on my shoulders. Of course, all problems will be solved if I join his group.’

                      ‘You will be going to Bangalore, then you need not play now,’ Shyamala said, providing the solution to the problem.

                     ‘Can I go away for eternity? I will be released from the camp, and then I have to play here. Then they will call me again, I have to go. I will have to reach Kozhikode within the 22nd. After the Nagjee Trophy, if Novacheck thinks so, he can keep us back for training. Otherwise, he can release us for playing in the league. Everything depends on him.’

                     ‘Sarathi will ask you to make a contract with them,’ Himadri was not asking, he seemed to be stating the obvious. ‘Jatri too wants you, they say they will give you more money. You listen to the rates of the two teams.’

                    ‘No use listening to the rates. Naku, you first improve your playing skills. Learn everything carefully from the Czech sahib. Increase the dignity of your country; you will find that your dignity will also increase,’ Rekha Gupta said firmly, putting the others in a spot of bother.

                    ‘Auntie, Dada is surely thinking about the dignity of the country, but why should he let go of the money?’ Shyamala tried to keep Auntie close to reality. ‘You said just now that he exerts himself to the utmost while playing, so he must take money, those who give more money…’

                    ‘Mala, you are making a mistake,’ Himadri stopped her. ‘Auntie wants to say that Dada should surely take money but he should also look after the dignity of the country, isn’t it’?

                    ‘Yes, yes, that’s what I meant,’ Auntie seemed relieved at the solution. Just then they heard the sound of a car halting before the house.

                    ‘Who can it be now?’ Samiran said, looking t the wall-clock. ‘At ten-thirty!’

                     Himadri went towards the window.  Shyamala switched on the corridor light.

                    Ghunu Mitra could be seen coming out of a green Maruti. On reaching the pathway, he gestured towards the windows to switch off the lights.

                    ‘Ghunu has come again, switch off the lights Mala,’ Himadri relayed from the window. Opening the door, he asked, ‘What brings you at this late hour?’

                    ‘What late hour, it is only ten-thirty. Trams and buses are still plying in Kolkata, food stores are open. Yes, it is a little late to you people. Noon and night are all the same to those of us who catch footballers.’ On noticing Samiran, Ghunu sat down on the dining room chair, contentedly. ‘Huh, could I get you at home if I had not arrived late?’

                    ‘If you had been a bit later, you would have missed Dada,’ Himadri said in a grave voice.

                    Ghunu started, ‘Why? Why?’

                    ‘Sarathi’s boys have come here looking for Dada twice. Maybe they would come again at night. So Dada is not staying at home during the night,’ Shyamala’s voice was even graver.

                    ‘Sarathi’s boys!’ Irritation, fear and anxiety were stamped on Ghunu’s countenance. ‘Banku? Nirmal? Did they tell their names?’

                    ‘No, they didn’t. These frequent disturbances… My Part-I examination is to begin in two months…’Shyamala added a bit of complaint to her face and expression.

                    ‘Right, right. Studying with a disturbed mind, this is not the right frame for the preparation of an exam, let alone playing football. Naku, you pack your things. Two shirts, two pants, one pajama will be enough.’

                    ‘Two shirts, two pants, collect your things—what do you mean?’

                    The words came like a bolt from the blue to Samiran. He had felt the same way when those three boys had encountered him in Basab’s gully.

                    ‘It means that I will take you immediately to Patu’s house.’

                    ‘Take you means?’

                    ‘You will stay there; you can sign from there, after signing you can go directly to Dumdum and board the plane. Where shall I buy tickets for—Madras, Bangalore or Hyderabad? Madras would be better; you can get all the flights to the South from there.’                ‘

    rudramunna219777Deb_Bannamewtheldreddevil87kartik91
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points
    Posting the 3rd part of Section IV. Last part coming up.
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points

                     ‘Stop, stop,’ Samiran raised his hands. ‘Why should I go to Patu-da’s house?’

                    On hearing these words, Ghunu stared at Samiran for five seconds before replying, ‘What do you mean by why? They have come looking for you twice. Can I leave you alone after this?’

                    ‘You want to capture Naku?’ Auntie’s indifference had now vanished. She entered the conversation, suspicion writ large in her eyes.

                    ‘Of course.’

                    ‘While I am alive?’ On hearing her mild roar and seeing her rise, Ghunu slid backward on the chair by about an inch. His left hand automatically made its way towards the collar of his bush shirt.

                    ‘Why? What has he done? He will play where he wishes, he will go with whom he wants. Is he a donkey or a cow that you want to tether him to a rope?’

                    ‘Ah, why are you getting so angry; Naku has only two legs, why should he become a donkey or a cow? We only want those two legs. I want to shift him to Patu’s house so that no one else can capture him. You see red at the drop of a hat. Today morning…’Ghunu began to rub his neck. An embarrassed Rekha Gupta stole a glance at the three of them, and realized that they would be pulling her legs for a long time for what she had done in the morning.  

                    ‘Ghunu-da, do you think that I am an infant? If someone tries to capture me will I let them capture me? Besides, who gave you the idea that I will be playing for Jatri this year?’

                    ‘Don’t you know that they have brought three players in your place? They have also held out the bait for our Buku. Sarathi is now desperate for getting one or two strikers. Otherwise, why would they offer Buku, a player who has not scored in the derby in the last three years, two lakhs?’ Ghunu blinked his eyes in perplexity.

                    ‘Then let Buku go to Sarathi,’ Samiran stretched his hands and tried to relax. ‘If he gets two lakhs, he should go there.’

                    ‘Are you mad?  He will score against Jatri after going to Sarathi. He has agreed to sign for two lakhs twenty five. It is only today that I have left him at Patu’s house. Now you come along with me.’

                    ‘Buku or Kisholoy Dutta gets two lakhs twenty five, the player who hasn’t scored in a derby for the last three years. And one lakh sixty thousand to Samiran Gupta? Bah!’ Himadri took the first step of bargaining on behalf of his brother. ‘And how much have you offered to Dulal Chakraborty, who is on the verge of vanprastha?’

                     Ghunu did not lose his temper. Blunting the jab by an innocent smile, he remarked, ‘I agree that it is time for Dulal to go to vanprastha, he is a thirty-five minutes player now.  But even now, he has no substitute as defender when it comes to playing in the derby. That is why we have to take him. As I said, we shall leave no stone unturned, Jatri will not show any miserliness in matters of money. So, Naku?’ Ghunu made as if to rise from the chair.

                    ‘So what’? Samiran stretched his legs n the chair, indicating that he was in no hurry.

                    ‘Your sister’s studies are being hampered, her exams are approaching. I have come in Patu’s car. Put the shirt and pant in your bag, do not forget the pajama.’ Saying the words assuredly, Ghunu, after thinking for a while, reached for his trouser pocket, took out a new snuff-box and put a few taps on its lid. Rekha Gupta’s eyes became rivetted on the snuff-box. Shyamala shut her mouth with her hands. Himadri suddenly choked and ran towards the basin.

                    Samiran did not notice all these. He was thinking, eyes closed. ‘Ghunu-da, I am not going to Jatri.’

                    Ghunu would not have been so surprised even if he were struck with lightening.  ‘You won’t be going! I have sworn to Patu that I would be definitely taking you with me.  I shall lose face, I shall be deeply shamed….’

                    ‘Please stop, Ghunu-da, it is no use telling me all these. Why did you have to swear before talking to me?’

                    ‘Did you think that Dada is a do-co?’ Shyamala could not resist a jibe.

                    ‘Do-co!’ Ghunu was perplexed. ‘What does that mean?’

                     ‘Nothing,’ Samiran tried to hush it up. ‘Mala has a bee in her bonnet, it causes problems sometimes.’

                    ‘Ahh!’ A relieved Ghunu removed the lid of the snuff-box and put his fingers inside it.  Rekha Gupta was about to say something, but Shyamala put her finger on her lips and motioned her to silence.

                   ‘See, Naku, one lakh sixty is the agreement, and powder fifty thousand. That adds up to two lakh ten thousand. I have been chasing you for the last two years, this time…’Ghunu Mitra leaned forward on the table and extended  his snuff-stained hands towards Samiran. ‘Buku is a player of Sitesh’s group. In order to protect him, Sitesh has been trying to prevent you from coming to Jatri for two years. This year Patu has cornered him, but he wants to keep Buku too. You score goals in the first two matches, the Bukus will vanish, the Siteshs would also go down the drain.’

                     ‘Why should Dada take fifteen thousand less than someone whom you want to vanish?’ Himadri asked, in a cross-examining tone. ‘Seven goals in three years, what do you think should be the value of each?’                   

    reddevil87munna219777kartik91
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points

                   Ghunu looked at Samiran. The younger brother’s question was reflected in the elder brother’s eyes also. Shaking his head despairingly, Ghunu put a pinch of snuff inside his nose and was about to wipe his hands when he turned pale. ‘Look, how forgetful I am. I have started taking snuff again. I had completely forgotten that I had abandoned this today.’

                    ‘Will you throw this box too from the window?’ Shyamala asked in a very normal voice.

                    ‘No,’ Ghunu shook his head.  ‘I will not. I have lost face completely. You must be thinking of me as  a liar, a cheat, an actor. Maybe I am all those. By working for the club, I have forgotten to keep to the straight and narrow.’

                    Ghunu’s face had turned piteous, but he managed to control himself. Putting on an innocent smile, he said, ‘Let all that be, you better talk to Patu face to face. Let him decide what the value of each goal will be.  It seems that I cannot take you with me today, you go tomorrow.’

                    ‘You give me Patu-da’s phone number, I will inform him when I would go,’ Samiran said sincerely.

                    All of them escorted Ghunu-da to the veranda. Suddenly, he brought his face close to Rekha Gupta, ‘Did you go to Munni’s house?’

                    ‘Eh, Mun—ni! Who—?’  A perplexed Rekha Gupta had begun to fumble, but by then Ghunu Mitra had opened the door of his Maruti.

                    ‘Ah, Auntie, you made a mess of it. How could you forget Munni so soon?’ There was a muted pungency in Shyamala’s voice and it conveyed a tone of embarrassment.

                    ‘Sneaked in at the last moment and scored a goal. Must have been lurking nearby the whole day,’ Himadri bit his lips.

                    ‘Naku, I have been exposed as a liar to the gentleman.’ Rekha Gupta, almost in tears, looked at Samiran. ‘What will he think of me and Mala?’

                    ‘He won’t think anything, I know such crafty people very well. They do not care for truth or falsehood.’

                    ‘But I do care. I have also become an unscrupulous person. Uhh, now I will feel the torments of hell. Naku, you please deliver me from this situation…you better go to his club, then I will get some peace.’ Rekha Gupta quickly went towards her room. Switching off the lights, she held her ears and started muttering, ‘Telling lies is a great sin, descent to hell…. Telling lies is a great sin….’

                    Himadri could be heard saying in the dining room, ‘Great lady’s orders, if you disobey her, this time it is a sure kneel down on VIP road.’                     


    munna219777reddevil87kartik91
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points
    The above post contain the last part of section IV. I shall post Section V after 2/3 days. Thanks for your interest in the work, and feel free to offer feedback.
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points
    The first part of Section V in the next post. More to follow tomorrow.
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points

    V

     

                    ‘Hello, is this Samiran, I am Subodh-da, Subodh Dhara calling.’

                    Samiran had woken up to the ringing of the telephone. The phone was attached in a rack in the narrow passageway between the dining space and Rekha Gupta’s room. As it continued ringing, he was compelled to rise. ‘Begging’ did not take place on Sunday. Auntie and Mala must have gone to the market. Kanu was also not present in the house.

                    ‘Yes,’ Samiran looks at the watch. It was a quarter past six.

                     ‘Did I wake you from your sleep?’

                     ‘There had been load shedding the whole night, just dozed off in the morning,’ He conveyed the sound of yawning through the phone.

                     ‘Eh, then I have committed a mistake. You can take rest now, I will call you later.’

                     ‘I am not feeling sleepy, tell me what you have to tell.’ Suppressing his irritation, he spoke in an amiable tone.

                     ‘What is there to say, the way things are at the club. These people,  I mean Ghunu and the others, did not find a coach, they had to settle on Ajay Talukder. The person has never coached a big team, he has had no success other than coaching two small teams  and relegating them to the B group, hasn’t got a coaching degree or diploma,  has no football sense; a person who has never cooked anything other than hotchpotch and sauce has been made the chief chef of a five-star hotel… Hello, hello, can you hear me?’

                     ‘Yes, I can. But why are you telling all this to me early in the morning. I am not Jatri’s player.’

                     ‘Ghunu went to your house yesterday to pick you up. He failed. I knew he would fail. Can these people who have now come into the committee ever give you, a player who is going to become India’s captain, your deserved respect? They think that just by shelling out money Samiran Gupta will come running, can such things happen? I know it is not possible for you to run from one club to another for the sake of money like boys belonging to pauper families. I know what sort of a family you belong to…Hello, the line has been disturbing for a few days, hello…’

                     ‘I can hear all right, you can continue.’

                     ‘You know very well what sort of a person Ghunu is. He has studied up to Class eight; he used to open the doors of Naran Sen’s car earlier, now he rides Patu’s car to catch players. In Naran-da’s time, if the secretary did not call him, he could not enter the room. And now he sometimes sits on Patu’s chair too. The club’s dignity is being spoilt because of such people. You have still not received your ten thousand rupees.’

                     As he listened to this rambling talk, Samiran understood that Subodh Dhara was deliberately trying to mislead him. A sudden idea flashed across his mind. It was not often that one got an opportunity to make fun of such people.

                     ‘Well, regarding the money, someone told me that it was you…’

                     ‘What did you say, what did you say, I have misappropriated your money? I have never in my entire life cheated anyone of a single paisa. Ghunu must have told you. Actually, Ghunu had taken your money by signing it. I had seen his signature on the voucher.’

                     ‘Then why did you not phone me then? Really, Dhara-da, you love me so much, still you forgot to give me this news? If you had told me, I would not have said yes.’

                     ‘Yes means? What does yes mean? Did you say yes to Ghunu?’

                     ‘Did I have any option? Can I say no to an offer of a quarter to three lakhs?’

                     ‘Qua-a-rter to three?’

                      Samiran did not receive any sound from the other end for ten seconds. He smiled. The medicine had taken effect.

                     ‘Hello Dhara-da, the line is all right, hello, Ghunu-da said, the way Buku had flopped last year everyone wants me. The members have been saying that Buku Dutta has turned from a hero into a heroine. Now he can take part in folk-theatre. Patu-da had said that I am signing a blank cheque, bring Samiran to me. Look what a fix I am in. On the other hand, Bata-da is saying that if I go to Jatri, he shall start a fast before our house—until death. What can I do?’

                     ‘You have said yes to Ghunu, is that your final word or are you playing along with him?’

                     ‘Oh, Dhara-da, is there anything like final word nowadays? So many stars have somersaulted even half an hour before signing.’

                     ‘But this time such tricks will be of no avail. Bata and Patu have already filled their styes with players.  Buku has also shifted to Patu’s house. Among those who are left you are one, I am surprised as to why Bata has left you alone? Doesn’t Sarathi need you? Vinu John has arrived yesterday, Karnail is coming today, is Sarathi not keeping you this year?’

                     Samiran stiffened for a few seconds on hearing the news concerning Vinu and Karnail. In order to be sure, he said, ‘As far as I know, Vinu is not coming, and Punjab police will refuse to let go of Karnail. But Bata-da will raise the rumour that he has brought them to win the election.’

                     A mild chuckle from the other end struck Samiran’s ears telling him that his words had been refuted.                 

    munna219777Deb_Banreddevil87kartik91
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points
    Posting the second part of section V in the next post.
    munna219777
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points

    ‘You are too naïve, Samiran. I myself have taken Vinu and kept him in my friend’s house in Chandannagar. For the sake of Jatri Bata has to win the election. We have to spread a rumour that Albuquerque is coming to Sarathi. The newspapers are in my control, the rumour will spread. I have done a lot of help for Bata in the case of Karnail.’

                     ‘Why did you do so? To ruin Patu-da?’

                     ‘Yes,’ the clenching of teeth tickled Samiran’s ears through the phone. It seemed that Subodh Dhara had suddenly gone mad. ‘And now, you listen, if you come to Jatri, you too will be ruined.

                     Samiran’s senses became alert as he listened to those words.  He said warily, ‘By trying to ruin Patu-da, you will be doing a great disservice to Jatri.’

                     ‘Yes, I will do so for the club. They do not have a plan, a scheme, they are only shelling out money to catch footballers. All this has come from Ghunu’s head. The more money is spent the more he will get his share of money. If we take so many players, we would be in serious trouble. Just think, four in the left back position, nine in the midfield. This is the way recruitment is taking place, advance is being given. Can anyone other than a crank do things in this way? Ajay has said, bring me Samiran. You are his first choice. If you fail only then will Buku get a place in the team. Is this the way to build a team? If you fail only then Buku gets into the team? Does Ajay consider the club his paternal property?’

                     ‘Dhara-da, you are a well-wisher of the club, the godfather of Buku too. I have heard that if the club does not win the league you go into mourning for one month, you do not wear shoes. Then why did you remove Baku from the field during last year’s league match against Sarathi by telephoning him that his mother had had a heart attack? Baku was playing quite well then. He might have even scored a goal after a long time. He desperately needed a goal to get back his lost confidence. On that day, you did a great disservice both to Baku and to the club at the same time.’

                     After uttering the words in slow, measured tones, Samiran bowed his head and closed his eyes. He felt bad when he saw a good footballer ruined. He used to respect Buku as a player. But not any more. Buku had brought his own downfall by aligning himself with the Dhara group in club politics. After seeing and hearing all these, he had kept himself at arm’s length from such inter-group squabbling in Sarathi.

                                    ‘Samiran, you are intelligent, educated. You have a reputation of keeping away from all dirty pies. A boy belonging to a poor family, Buku has earned in seven to eight years what he could not have earned in three generations. About ten lakhs from Jatri and three thousand a month by working at the bank. I have noticed from the last two years that the desire to play has evaporated from Buku.  Knowing fully well that he can never play to his true potential again, I had phoned him about his mother’s heart attack to remove him from the ground. He has not suffered any loss due to this. But what I wanted to happen did take place. Fire was set to the gallery after we lost the match. Buku might have scored a goal that day but he would never have got back his self-confidence. In order to do so, you have to make football your religion. As Buku will not be able to do so, I am using him for my own purpose. And he too knows that he has no option left but to work overtime and earn some extra bucks.  But you are ambitious, you want to achieve success, you are dangerous.’

                     ‘Is this praise, or censure?’

                     Dhara did not pay any attention to the words. He went on, ‘The reason why I called you, you stay at Sarathi, I will increase your rate.  I will spread a rumour in the papers that you have received an offer of two and a half lakhs from Jatri. Having heard that Sarathi has offered two lakhs to Buku, Ghunu has picked him up. Bata will also pick you up.’

                     Samiran again heard the chuckle on the other end.  He asked hesitatingly, ‘But two lakhs, two and a half lakhs, will people believe all this?’

                     ‘What do you mean by will, they have believed. I repeat, you will face problems if you come to Jatri, you won’t be able to play… I won’t let you play.’

                      The clicking of the phone on the other end and the ringing of the door-bell took place almost simultaneously. Rekha Gupta and Shyamala had returned from the market.

                     ‘Dada, how incredibly lucky you are, it so happened that only today six-inch long trunk to tail tiger prawns were available in the market after a long time. That memsahib of ‘A’ Block, who goes to the market dressed in a housecoat, was leaning down before the fish seller, pinching the prawns to scrutinize their health.  And auntie, the way she darted through the crowd from forty feet…it was evident that she had played basketball once.’

                     “Mala,’ a grave voice issued from the kitchen.

                     ‘No, auntie, I am not narrating the entire episode.’ Shyamala assured auntie before looking at Samiran, goggle-eyed. ‘She made a run after making an impossible dribble. ‘Three or four gentlemen narrowly managed to balance themselves after getting a jolt, but auntie must have committed a red-card foul on memsahib. Straight she went and gave a side push, memsahib went down, with one hand she grabbed all the prawns and put them on the scale, saying, “Weigh them, I am buying all of them.” All of these happened in one action. The fish seller knows Auntie. Without speaking a word, he put on the weights and declared, ‘One kilo fifty grams, eighty rupees and four rupees, eighty four rupees…you give me two rupees less, I know that Samiran-da has returned yesterday.’ By the time memsahib was back on her feet, I had got the fishes in my bag.’

                     ‘Mala’, again from the kitchen.            

    munna219777Deb_Bankartik91reddevil87
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28540 Points
    The last post of Section V is posted below. As you guys can see, the fish (here prawns) is indelibly etched with the Bengali psyche and Bengali football. As you know, the Hilsa (ilish) is the mascot of East Bengal, while it is the prawn for Mohun Bagan. Meanwhile feel free to comment.
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