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  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points
    Sorry guys, could not upload the rest of Section I tonight, will definitely upload it tomorrow morning. Don't worry, this is only the prelude. The real action begins from Section 2, all the drama and counter-drama, the rivetting stories of abduction of players and their subsequent release, the rot in the system, corrupt officials and group-ism among players, and amidst these, the struggle of a single individual who tries to extricate himself from this quagmire and live life on his own terms.
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points
    Posting the last part of section 1. Sorry for the delay. Hope to post Section 2 in 2-3 days.
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points


       Five years ago, he had taken Samiran (whom he had been coaching since childhood) to the secretary of Darjipara Ekta. ‘The lad plays well, he has a football sense, and he does not shrink from hard work. Most important, he possesses a good character. You can give him a try.’ These few words of Mukhoti had sufficed. Of course, Samiran was red-carded in very first match. The secretary had observed, ‘Did you notice how he dribbled past Nimai and Dulal and take the shot? I will play him in all the matches.’

    Samiran had scored thirteen goals in that season.  The very next year, Juger Jatri had signed him for sixty thousand rupees. The negotiations were carried on by Ghunu Mitra. Today, no one remembers his real name. Thirty five years back, he used to stand at the club gate and check the cards of the members before allowing them to enter. He was next conferred the ‘honour’ of opening the doors of the car of the then secretary, Narayan Sen. If any footballer of the club got injured and no one was around to take him to the doctor, Ghunu Mitra would be there to help him out. Thus, by improving step by step or by slowly worming his way into the administration of the club, he was now a member of the executive committee and the right hand man of the new secretary Patitbaran or Patu Ghosh.

    Ghunu had frankly admitted, ‘Your goal was perfectly all right. But if you think that a small club will score against a heavyweight club and snatch away two vital points and the supporters of the twenty lakh-budget club will applaud you, then you are mistaken. That is not the rule of the Maidan. If you had scored against Sarathi, the same thing would have happened. The supporters will set fire to our tent. If you stay here for some time, you will yourself understand the ins and outs of the Maidan. Ok, let bygones be bygones. Do you realize how lucky you are to be playing for such a big club after spending just one year at a big club?’ Samiran was so overcome with emotion that he could only nod in approval.

    ‘But one thing,’ Ghunu added in a low voice, ‘whatever I get from your contract, I get a ten per cent share of it. You will get sixty per cent as advance in cash.’

    Still nodding his head, Samiran stammered, ‘How much will they pay me?’

    ‘I will see that you get more. That would only work to my advantage’.

    Ghunu had deducted six thousand, his ten per cent share from Samiran’s advance of thirty six thousand. That night, when he showed the thirty hundred rupee notes to his Aunty, she could only stare blankly at him. Shyamala was startled, ‘Dada, will the police be coming to our house? Have you committed a bank dacoity or what?’ Himadri, in an effort to retain a semblance of normalcy, commented, ‘Dada should have got much more. Judged by his standards, he should have received one lakh sixty thousand.’

    After carefully piling up the notes, Rekha Gupta rushed to the small room in the corner to meet her brother. After a while, she came back, wiping a tear or two. ‘He was very surprised, you see. He said that he did not know that one can earn so much by playing football. I said that you would get another twenty four thousand. Go and seek his blessings.’

    Samiran did not budge. The children had a grudge against their father; he had hardly any relationship with his sons and daughter. After returning from office, he kept himself cloistered in his own room and only came out to take a bath and during mealtime. He rarely exchanged a word with anyone.

    ‘Go, he would be very happy’, Aunty coaxed Samiran.

    Samiran entered the room and touched his father’s feet. His father put down the book that he was reading and sat upright in the easy chair. Looking at his elder son, he said with a faint smile, ‘Since you are getting a lot of money, give your best in the field. Do not insult yourself.’

    The words somehow remained etched in Samiran’s mind. When he returned to the dining room, he found Aunty keeping apart a bunch of notes.

    ‘What are those for’? Samiran asked, a bit perplexed.

    ‘This is an offering to your guru.  No one can repay the debt of a guru, a guru who took you under his wings and who guided you in every step of your life. Even then, you will give him these six thousand rupees to him tomorrow morning as a tribute. He is living in dire straits. The laundry shop is also about to close business.’                                                           

     


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  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points

    ‘There goes another ten percent of Dada,’ Himadri joked but Samiran was quick to stop him.

    ‘Kanu, do not speak of this as a deduction. Do you know why Aunty is a great lady? She always remembers the right things at the right time and saves me from feeling guilty. I will definitely go to meet Baren-da in the morning. But Aunty, if you tell me to wash the window-panes again, I will lose all my dignity.’

    Aunty frowned at Samiran. ‘What do you understand about dignity and self-respect? You think that you lose all self-respect by washing the windows of your own house? Haven’t I told you the story of Vidyasagar umpteen times? When your team loses, when you fail to score a goal, your dignity would then be in tatters.’

    Sensing that the conversation was becoming too serious, Shyamala said, ‘Let us leave all this talk about dignity and self-respect. The question is what Dada will do with this money. I f you were to ask me, I would say a colour TV and…’

    ‘And a scooter for Dada,’ Himadri interrupted.

    ‘Yes, yes, Dada would definitely buy one, but such a big player does not deserve to live in a one storey house. We have to construct at least one room on the terrace.’

    There was a deafening silence for some time. Aunty was the first one to speak out, ‘Who would stay in the room?’ she inquired.

    ‘You,’ Samiran answered.

    ‘No, my dears, that is not going to happen. If you think you will send me upstairs and have your own way here, then you have to shelve the idea. If we are to build a room at all, Dada will be staying there.’

    ‘Correct decision,’ said Samiran. ‘We are withdrawing your proposal. But Aunty, don’t you want anything for yourself?’

    “I!’ Aunty seemed to be at a loss. After lot of persuading, she could only say, ‘I want to give a treat to my morning friends by cooking something myself.’

    “Your morning friends,’ Himadri raised his eyebrows. ‘You mean the bega-a-a…’ he could not finish the word as Shyamala had swiftly pinched him near the armpit. Himadri of course had very tactfully changed the ‘bega-a-a…’ into a raking cough and rushed towards the sink.

     

    ‘Aunty was anxious, ‘What happened? Why did you suddenly choke on your words?’

    ‘What Kanu meant to say was why you should go to the trouble of cooking when you can buy something from the Chinese restaurant. Isn’t it, Kanu?’ Samiran glanced at his brother. Himadri, who was busy washing his face with water, could only mutter, ‘Yes.’

    ‘How can you call cooking something for people trouble? Do you know how good it feels to feed people? If I had the money, I would have given a spread every day.’

    Rekha Gupta had indeed provided a hearty feast to her friends. The scooter and the colour TV also arrived in due time. The room on the terrace, however, could not be constructed that year.  In the very next season, Sarathi Sangha signed Samiran for a contract of one lakh ten thousand rupees. He still owned Juger Jatri another ten thousand rupees. He was never to receive the money.

     It was from this time that he began to be familiar with every blade of grass in the Maidan.

     

                                                                                             


                                                                      


     

     

     

     


      

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points
    Posting the first part of Section 2 in the next thread. Expect to complete the whole section by tomorrow. Please provide feedback (not only likes, but comments, criticism anything).
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points

                                                                               II

     

    ‘No. no, I have already consumed my quota of four,’ Bhattacharya spread his two palms and prevented Rekha Gupta from serving more puris. ‘Elephants consume only two, Dutta-babu has just told me.’

    ‘Yes, they eat only two….one more for me, Miss Gupta, a total of seven rounds—‘

    Malabika coughed mildly. Dutta glared at her, ‘Do you mean to say that we did not complete seven rounds?’

    ‘Seven? We had just finished eight and we were about to begin the ninth when Bhattacharya-da told us to stop,’ Malabika answered gravely.

    ‘Oh, then I had counted wrongly, one more for me then, ‘Dutta said, and then added, ‘And one for Mrs. Basak too.’

    ‘Naku also eats exactly eight,’ Rekha Gupta finished serving and sat down on the chair next to Saroj Basak. ‘Basak-da, you did not have more than four, just like Bhattacharya-da.’

    ‘We are birds of the same feather: he suffers from acidity, I from fat; if we eat more, our systems would protest’.

     Bhattacharya nodded his head in a South Indian manner. At that very moment, someone called from near the gate, ‘Is this Samiran Gupta’s house?’

    ‘Mala, someone is looking for Naku,’ Rekha Gupta raised herself from the chair and peered outside. ‘Now, that the transfer season has arrived, we would have all sorts of people calling on us—Samiran, Naku, Nakuda. Just like beggars. Next, they will be tugging at our hands and legs. Strange indeed are the rules of this transfer.’

    ‘Is there anybody in the house?’

    ‘Mala, please find out who it is.’

    ‘Rekha, the more these importunities, the more your value in the transfer market,’ Malabika looked at Aunty meaningfully.

    ‘Miss Gupta, if someone pesters you this time, just give me a call on the phone, I will see how these fellows escape with their arms and legs intact,’ Dutta said, clenching his two fists and banging them on the table. ‘I have not been in action for a long time, my body is becoming buttery.’

    Shyamala came back into the dining room. ‘Someone from Juger Jatri has come to meet Dada. I told him that Dada would come to Howrah by train in the morning. He said that he knew that Dada would travel from Bangalore to Madras, then board the Bombay Mail from there and reach Howrah at seven o’ clock. The train would most probably be running late. Keeping these factors in mind, Dada would not be able to reach home before ten.’

    ‘But it is not eight yet.’ Bhattacharya said. ‘Then what brings him here after so much calculation?’

    ‘I did point it out to him. He said that he wants to meet Aunty.’

    ‘A Juger Jatri official wants to meet Rekha!’ Malabika looked at aunty, goggle-eyed. ‘When did you start playing football?’

    ‘Oh, the uncles and aunts of the footballers too become VIPs before the transfers,’ Saroj Basak explained to his wife. ‘You see, our footballers are very devoted to their families; they do not change their clubs without consulting their brothers, sisters-in-law, mothers, aunts, brothers and sisters. So the officials have to persuade these people first before the players.’

    Just as Saroj had finished his statement, there was a voice from the door, ‘Can I please come in?’ Without waiting, the person entered the room.

     The man who came into the room could be described thus:  he was of middling stature, had slightly brown eyes, his once fair skin had turned a shade of tan, he was aged about sixty-sixty five, had salt-pepper hair on his head, was wearing a biscuit-coloured trouser and bush shirt, with a pump shoe that must have cost four hundred rupees. Folding his hands in a namaskar, he said, ‘My name is Ghunu Mitra. I am not such a famous person that my name would be familiar to you. I love the club, I am a member of its committee, and I am always beside the footballers in their joys and sorrows. I help them if they face any problem; they try to look after me when I am in trouble. I just heard someone saying that the boys take the advice of their mothers, aunts, sisters and sisters-in-law. The statement is one-fourth true. The rest is cooked up by the newspapers. Are they still infants that they would go by their mothers or aunt’s words? Yes, some of them do because their mother or wife handles their finances better than them. Can I sit down?

    ‘Certainly, certainly,’ Rekha Gupta rose from her seat. There was no spare chair in the dining room. Following Rekha Gupta, the four ‘beggars’ also vacated their seats.

    ‘Oh, you need not bother yourself. My dear, could you fetch me a chair or stool from somewhere,’ Ghunu Mitra addressed Shyamala.

    She rushed in to her Aunty’s room and came back with a stool.

    ‘Naku’s house is my house too. I can sit down even on the floor.’ Ghunu of course took his seat on the stool. ‘It seems tea has not been served.’

    ‘No, tea will now be served. You….’Rekha Gupta began to busy herself.

    ‘Without sugar, my blood sugar is on the higher side.’

    ‘How much?’ Bhattacharya asked, with bated breath.

    ‘Two hundred and ninety one, ‘Ghunu said, pretty relaxed. ‘I do not take any medicine. The doctors have told me to avoid stress and tension; I try to follow their advice.’

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

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  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points
    Posting the second part of Section 2 in the next post. The remaining tomorrow.
  • thebeautifulgamethebeautifulgame Durgapur,India28275 Points

    Rekha Gupta motioned Shyamala to join her in the kitchen. She had heard a lot about Ghunu Mitra from Samiran. Though she remained on her guard, she could not help feeling a little uncomfortable.

    ‘Is it possible for anyone in Juger Jatri to avoid tension? I have heard that even the dogs of the club, unable to bear tension, escape to Babughat during the matches.’ Bhattacharya asked hesitantly.

    ‘From where did you hear it?’

    ‘My brother-in-law’s son is a member of Jatri, he has told me.’

    ‘Rubbish. Absolutely rubbish. There is tension when we play a small club. But I am there to look after things. My job is to manage their goalkeeper and their stopper or one of their backs, which is easily done.’

    ‘But not Naku. He has been playing against Jatri for the last four years and in all the tournaments combined—Rovers, Durand, Federation, Shield and League—he has scored seven goals, three have been disallowed. No mean feat that—bulging Jatri’s net ten times.’ Bhattacharya was almost red in the face. ‘No, you have not been able to manage our Naku.’

    ‘The only failure of my life. The club did not pay him ten thousand rupees; that added as a double motivation whenever he played against Jatri. But there is a new committee this time; Naku will not have to worry about money. I will see to it that he gets those ten thousand.’

    Shyamala entered, carrying a tray containing five cups of tea. Holding it before Ghunu, she said, ‘The one on the right side near the corner flag does not contain sugar.’

    Ghunu picked up the cup. ‘Pretty evident that it is a footballer’s house. This is the first time I have come to your house. A very nice house.’ Ghunu Mitra said, addressing Rekha Gupta. Then he took a casual glance around the house and picked up the cup of tea.

    ‘The house is not mine, it belongs to my Dada.’

    ‘Same thing. The place is very good, quite secluded, the rooms are spacious. How many rooms are there on the second floor?’

    ‘One.’

    ‘Why? You can build two more; there is plenty of space for that. The foundation must be of three storeys. ‘

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘Then you can build two more rooms.’

    ‘Well, that requires money,’ Rekha Gupta replied, wondering where this discussion would lead to.

    ‘Don’ worry about that. I will arrange for the money.’

    ‘You?’ Rekha Gupta was dumbstruck. ‘Why will you arrange for the money?’

    ‘How much do you need for the two rooms? Thirty thousand?  I will see to it. The new committee that has been formed at Jatri will ensure that there is no stinginess on their part. If they make a contract of two lakhs, they will give two lakhs, one and a half lakhs in advance. If you want, they will also provide powder.’

    ‘What is powder?’ G.C. Dutta was curious.

    ‘Not everything is included in the contract; some twenty five-thirty thousand gets transacted otherwise. That is outside the account, not included in the signed amount. This is called powder.’

    ‘Suppose a player takes advance, powder is also provided, and then he decides to sign for a different club…’

    Ghunu Mitra pounced on him even before Saroj Basak could complete the sentence. ‘That was exactly what happened last year with Dulal Chakrabory. After taking an advance of one lakh and twenty five thousand, he swore that he would not sign for any other club even if he died. Scratching his hand with a blade, he said, ‘Look, every cell of this blood has Juger Jatri written on it.’

    ‘What? Name written in blood?’ Malabika gasped. ‘How can that happen?’

    ‘It can happen. The Kolkata footballers are so faithful to their clubs, they get so involved in their club’s welfare and prestige, that the club gets mixed in their blood, every breath that they breathe contains the club’s name.’

    ‘God knows. I have studied science, I am a B.SC in Botany, but I have never seen such a thing.’ Malabika faintly registered her protest.

    ‘Madam, your eyesight is perfectly normal. But our footballers possess a different type of blood, which is invisible to the naked eye,’ Ghunu smiled enigmatically. ‘The player in whose blood you might get the name of Juger Jatri this year might contain the name of Sarathi next year and the name of Jupiter the following year.’

    ‘That is a very dangerous trait,’ G.C. Dutta seemed nervous. ‘What about their real blood, the one that they inherited from their parents? If the only blood that they have is club blood, then people will die when injected with this blood.’

    ‘They might. It might happen that in the future that the blood banks will refuse to accept their blood if they get to know that they are footballers. But you may rest assured that these players never donate blood.’ Ghunu Mitra opined. He continued, ‘Yes, we were talking about powder. After taking the advance and the powder, Dulal shifted to Sarathi’s Bata Biswas’s flat. I got a call from him saying that he had been abducted by Bata’s henchmen who had forced him into a car at pistol point and taken him to Bata’s house.’

    ‘Surely you took the help of the police?’ Bhattacharya asked, glancing at G.C. Dutta.

    ‘Are you out of your mind? Why should I go to the police? Dulal had himself gone to Bata’s hideout in a taxi. I had received the news within ten minutes. He had swallowed the bait because they had promised to give him twenty five thousand more than what we were paying him.’

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  • Deb_BanDeb_Ban 9708 Points
    @thebeautifulgame, good read, faithful to the original text. Yet the Moti Nandi flavour is there. I am reading the original after the translation.

    One little thing: the term 'powder' is original, but somehow not giving the desired impact; can something else be thought (difficult -- I couldn't figure out, though).
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