Nov 12, 2012

The Duliajan Chronicles: The Badminton Days

The Assam Gas Company Campus, Duliajan
Back during my school days, when my dad worked in Duliajan, we would have a badminton competition among the families of the employees of the company. Staying in a town like Duliajan, this was a good opportunity for the people to stay fit (and the goodies you would get on winning were superb as well- sponsored by Aeicorp), which is why there was overwhelming participation year after year after year.

If you look hard enough, you can see the net of the badminton court through the entrance
As a kid, there are certain factors which decide how well you play. First, the role of your parents. In an industrial town like Duliajan, people have a lot of free time, due to which, all their attention goes towards their kids. Studies come first, no doubt, but extra curricular activities matter as well! And there is also the reason to stay fit. In general, if your parents played well, you would do so as well. My mother was really good in badminton, in fact, she was perhaps the best among the ladies. My father, on the other hand, did play a game here and there, but not too frequently. The second important thing is how early you start playing! I started when I was eight. I had friends who had started back when they were five. They were certainly better! The third factor is the playing time you get. As my parents (read mother) was a strict disciplinarian, I had a fixed schedule. I could go any time to play, but I had to return by six in the evening (and then, do my homework!) Naturally, others had a less strict schedule, and could play for a longer duration of time. Clubbing all these together, I did turn out to be a decent player, although far below the best among my age group.

That being said, Niki was the best player in my age group. Although he was relatively shorter than the rest, his agility, stamina and power would more than make up for his height, taking him far above the rest. He had a tenacity, a tenacity to win a game, no matter what position he was in- even in the doubles. That's true. I became champion just once in my life, that too in doubles, and no prizes for guessing who I was paired with.

There were good memories, there were bad. Every year, my mother would invariably end up winning the singles trophy, so we had something for the family for sure. But if you ask me the most memorable incident, only one comes to my mind.

I am not gonna tell you how I won it once. I am gonna tell you a different story- how I lost it. It was back when I was in the eighth grade, perhaps one of the last times I played until the academic pressure subdued the badminton player inside me (and millions of other kids of this great nation). It was a mixed doubles competition, and I was clubbed with Punam, and Niki with Natasha, in the finals. It was a fair competition, with a little disadvantage to us, because of the tenacity of course.

Punam was agile, and had considerably high stamina. On the other hand, I had quick reflexes, but was pretty much on the slower side. However, we did make a good team, losing the first game, but winning the second (it was a best of three.) We continued the momentum in the third game and were leading 10-4 (yes, I remember the score well), when something happened. We knew very well Niki was tiring, but you could never be sure, he becomes all quiet during a game, making it impossible to say what is going on. One moment, he struggles to play a shot, you blink your eye and he's at the other end of the court.

Anyways, Natasha burst into tears- girls are unpredictable, right? But isn't that how kids are? I was certainly shocked and had no idea what to do. If she refused to play, a walkover would guarantee us a win, but that would be a cowardly way to win, ain't it? Niki, with all his ego, hardly even talked to her then. If I hadn't done anything, considering the situation, we would have won. However, we decided to talk to her rather, and after a five, maybe ten minute break, the match resumed. The break was everything we did NOT need. The momentum shifted. The break was all that that was needed to distract us. I believe, we did not even score a point after the break. Needless to say, they won.

I am not really sure how to describe the aftermath. Someone told me that this is what happens when you try to be too good. True, I had never been so close to victory and lost! I was accustomed to defeat, and took it well, but that one match would always come back to me and force me to think- What if... So close, yet so far. We were all kids then, and I certainly don't hold any grudge towards anyone. It was a lesson for me, but sometimes, I still wonder what exactly it taught me.

I came back home that night with a lot of excitement, and I must have told this story to my parents, grandparents and cousins lots of times, but I can never grow tired of it. I wonder what if we had been a bit more stable, what could have happened... I guess some things are just meant to be cherished in your mind.

Liked this post? Have any suggestions? Just let me know. Feel free to comment below!

0 responses:

Post a Comment