Harimadhabpur was a small village about three kilometres away from Futkundi station. A boy named Kamlesh lived in this village. He was born and raised here. Since childhood, Kamlesh had been good at both studies and sports. He studied in the village school, and this year, he secured the highest rank in his class and passed the ninth standard. He also won many prizes in the school annual sports competitions. However, the most popular sport in their village was football. Everyone— from small to big— in the village loved to watch and play the game. Kamlesh also loved to play football. Even from a very tender age, Kamlesh had always dreamt that he would play football for his school one day. This time, he would get the opportunity, because now he was in ninth grade. He regularly practiced football in the village field after returning from school. One day during class, the headmaster of his school— Haricharan Babu— came into his class and said that the school football competition would be after one month, so everyone were told to start preparing. Kamlesh learned that the school had lost the competition for the past five years. This was their last chance, and if they lost this time, then the shame of their school would never end. This thought worried Kamlesh too much. He seemed to be taciturn after returning home from school. Seeing the boy's strange behaviour, his mother became very worried and wanted to know what had happened. After she learnt all the facts, she put her hand on her son's head and told him to have faith in God and to work hard. At his mother's words, Kamlesh got inspired and started regular practice, remembering his mother's Gospel truth.
Every morning, he woke up first and then went to the big field of the village with the ball, starting his practice. He made a goal-post by himself and then ran around the field with the ball, then shot the ball to the goal-post to score goals. The only aim now for him was to win in the school football competition. In this way, his regular practice continued. One day, when he was returning home from school, he saw that the sky was overcast with black clouds. It was mid-July, so it was rainy season. As soon as he reached home, it started raining lightly. Torrential rains started by the evening, with occasional lightning flashes. It rained until about midnight and then stopped. Even that day, Kamlesh woke up as usual and began to think if he should go to practice that day or not. But after thinking for a while, he remembered his school and his mother's Gospels. He was unable to keep himself steady any more. He left for the field with his ball. But today, the area looked different, as many trees had fallen, and many roofs from houses had been blown away due to last night's storm. He reached the field and started his daily routine. The field also seemed different; covered with fog.
After a while, he saw that someone was standing in the field under the fir tree, observing him from a distance. Frightened, he paused for some time. He left the field that day without saying anything. The next day, the same thing repeated. This time, Kamlesh was practicing a little towards the front and saw a man of medium height and a beard, standing and looking at him as he did the day before. The man seemed a little strange to Kamlesh. Also, the standing position of the man seemed a little different from the usual. He could no longer suppress his curiosity today. So, he asked the man, "Sir, who are you? Are you here to see the game?" The man was strangely silent. Without speaking a word, he came out from the shade of the tree. While he appeared in front of Kamlesh, he saw the man was lame, standing with a stick. The man asked Kamlesh if he stayed in this village. Kamlesh answered yes. The man also asked Kamlesh what he did. The boy said that his name was Kamlesh and that he studied in the ninth class of the village school. The man also asked him if he liked playing football. Kamlesh replied yes. After staying on the field for a while that day, Kamlesh returned home. The next day, he met the man again, as usual. This day, the man asked him, "Boy, do you practice football regularly?" Kamlesh told him that he loved playing football but now he had a difficult challenge in front of him. As the man queried the reason, Kamlesh described how their school had lost five years in a row in the school football competition. This was their last opportunity, and if they lost this time also, then they would never be able to defend the shame of their school.
Kamlesh's words seemed to make the man silent, but after a while the man said, “Let’s start the practice then".
Kamlesh began to look at the man strangely. He wanted to know the man's identity, and the man replied that he also used to play football at one point in time, but now he couldn’t, though he loved football deeply. He stayed nearby. He could not hold himself back while seeing Kamlesh’s practice every day, and finally came to the field. The man said, "Maybe I don't know football very well, but I know something about it. In your practice, I noticed that you have the ability to be a good player, but you slightly lack on some skills. If you do not mind, I can teach you some tricks and if you work hard and keep practicing like this, you will surely play well." Listening to the man, Kamlesh felt strong from the inside. Kamlesh started practicing football with the man every morning. The man started to give him advice on how to win as a team on the field by playing a team game in football; how to make short accurate passes; how to dribble the ball and escape from the grip of other players; and how to kick the ball in a way so that the perfect goal was sure. The man continued to teach Kamlesh various methods and tactics. Days went by, Kamlesh also continued practicing with the man. Kamlesh noticed that the man was filled with energy during practice. One day during the practice, Kamlesh suddenly asked the man, "Sir, you are lame, yet how you do all these exercises so well?" That day the man's answer touched Kamlesh's heart, and from that day he placed the man in the seat of Guru Mahasaya. The man said, "Lame is my leg, not my mind. Willpower defeats all kind of physical challenges."
In this way, as the day of the game started approaching, Kamlesh continued to practice the game in a better way with his teacher. His new teacher said, "Your only aim is to protect the honour of your school in any way. So, get ready." Thus, the day of the game arrived. The school ground was very well-arranged for the match. It was a Monday. This was the last chance for Harimadhabpur school to defend their honour. That's why everyone in the school was a bit scared and silent. On the day of the game also, Kamlesh appeared on the field in the morning where he had practiced for so long. He bowed to his sir. His sir said, "I bless you, my son. Go, play very well, fulfil your dream and aim." The game started in perfect time. The players entered the field at the appointed time. Kamlesh also entered the field and first bowed to his sir in his mind. The game began with the referee's whistle. But today, from the beginning, Kamlesh's game seemed to be on a different rhythm. The ball seemed to be fully under Kamlesh’s control. What strange dribbles Kamlesh made! Harimadhabpur school got its first goal just fifteen minutes after the game had started. The whole school burst into applause, at Kamlesh’s great goal shot. Spectators started cheering for Harimadhabpur school. After half-time, Harimadhabpur school got a penalty. Kamlesh's penalty shot went in like a rocket and embraced the goal-post's net. There was tremendous clapping all around. Harimadhabpur school led 2-0.
The moment Kamlesh scored the goal, he noticed his sir applauding him among the spectators. Kamlesh seemed to have received the best gift of his life. After five minutes, the referee announced the end of the game with three short whistles. Harimadhabpur school won the match 2-0. The spectators and the faculty members of the school started dancing and crying with this historic win. Scoring two goals and playing impeccably, everyone's eyes were now on Kamlesh. In the award ceremony, the school principal was asked to say something about the match. The principal averred, "Today, the school is very proud of Kamlesh. He is a very good boy, equally adept at studies and sports. But today, somewhere in Kamlesh’s game, I noticed Kamlesh using the tactics of my old student— Anirban. Anirban used to play impossibly well. Suddenly one day, on his way to his uncle's house, he lost one of his legs in a major road accident. Anirban's game was stopped. He often said to me, Sir, I want to be a football coach when I grow up." Tears welled up in the principal's eyes.
Now, Kamlesh was called on the stage to say something. Kamlesh said that he was able to play so well today, only due to his sir. His sir had always helped him and had even increased his enthusiasm by appearing on the field. Hearing Kamlesh’s words, the principal could no longer keep silent and asked, "Kamlesh, will you be able to call your sir on the stage?” Kamlesh went away silently and after a while, everyone saw a lame, bearded man with a stick following Kamlesh slowly. Seeing the man, the principal could not keep himself calm anymore. He shouted with tears in his eyes, “Anirban, you —"
“How are you sir? It was me who taught him sir.” He bowed, with great difficulty. “When I saw him practicing regularly and when I learnt from him that our school had lost for 5 years, I could no longer keep myself steady, sir. So, I also joined him.”
The principal was spellbound and just wept. Kamlesh was as surprised as the others. Of course, he realized that it was happy tears welling from his sir's eyes. The principal only said in a hushed voice, “Anirban, you saved us all from the many years of shame. I request you to stay at our school as a football coach, so that you can coach the students of the school.” Kamlesh and the others also requested enthusiastically, “Please sir, stay with us.” Anirban was unable to refuse the proposal. With tears in his eyes, he said, "It was my long-cherished dream. It ultimately came true today." And then he again started weeping. He kept repeating, “Thank you Kamlesh, thank you!” These moments made all the spectators shed tears, but of course they were happy tears. ‘The best and most flawless player’ award was given to Kamlesh. The other players were also awarded with medals. The school principal declared the next day as a holiday due to their historic win. Thus, Harimadhabpur school ground bore witness to the fulfilment of a long-cherished dream.
Author : Aniket Ghosh
Aniket is a twenty-year-old undergraduate student pursuing his Bachelor’s degree in English from Durgapur Government College in Durgapur, West Bengal. He likes to go through different types of books and gain knowledge from them. He is a dreamer and explorer who likes to travel various places. Sir Francis Bacon is his idol, and he wants to follow his style of learning in his studies. He loves playing cricket and believes that no one should stop their journey if they fail, because failures are the pillars of success.