CHAPTER 3: Watching the Game
“Jeet, are you out of your mind?!” Mother screeched.
She was never this mad at anybody in the family, but this time, she went nuts.
“Do you know what could’ve happened to you? You could have gotten injured! You could have- You would have – !” Mother lost her mind.
“It is okay, mamma; Jeet is still a little child!” Mahan spoke up in defense of Jeet.
“And you, Mahan!” Mother’s voice became deep.
“You are in deep, deep trouble!”
“You couldn’t have stopped him? You couldn’t have taken him to his teacher, who obviously wasn’t supervising him? You couldn’t have told him of the troubles and the risks he was taking? You couldn’t have done any of that? You are an elder brother, set an example!” Mother shouted.
“Mother, I persuaded Brother Mahan. I was ignorant. I was the one who is at fault. Please do not shout at him. Shout at me!” Jeet spoke up.
“You BOTH are in big trouble! You and Mahan are grounded for a week! And that P.E. teacher of yours! I will have a word with her! Off to your room!” Mother thundered.
Jeet trudged on to his room, on the verge of tears.
Jeet shared his room with Mahan. They were both in bed. Mahan tried to cheer him up by giving him some exciting news. The conversation was as follows.
“You like football right, Jeet?”
“And you support Lymington Football Club, right?”
“Well, guess what?”
“They are playing against Newcastle United right now, five minutes into the game. Let’s watch.”
“Lymington Town is a horrible team”
“Hey! Keep it shut! They came all the way from the Wessex Premier League to League Two, League One, FL Championship, and now, Barclays Premier League in just ten years!”
“Where did you learn that from? Anyways, I meant to say don’t be demeaned if they lose”
“Yes, okay. But they won’t!”
“As you say”
“This bores me” Mahan said.
Jeet didn’t find it very boring, however. The first ten to fifteen minutes consisted of Lymington just dominating possession. They were passing the ball around in their own half. Jeet thought that if Lymington go into the other half of the field, they’d lose the ball. Jeet thought it was smart.
“Why can’t every team just do this?” Jeet inquired.
“Because they can get easily intercepted or tackled and if they keep doing this without a lead, then they won’t get a victory. It is a very risky thing to do.”
Lymington failed to pass to a team-mate and Newcastle United had the ball. Jeet got distracted; he wasn’t focusing on the match. Newcastle sailed past Lymington’s defense. Papiss Demba Cisse, the Newcastle United Striker easily beat the rather shoddy defenders. It took one strike of the ball to put Newcastle into the lead. The twenty-first minute, and the score line was 1 – 0, with Newcastle United leading. Jeet’s attention focused back onto the game, and he perked up.
“Goal!” Jeet punched his fist into the air.
“Um, Jeet? Newcastle scored, not Lymington. Your team is losing.”
“Oh. Okay” Jeet kept quiet then on.
Half time drew nearer and nearer. It was down to the forty-fourth minute when Lymington were gifted ball possession. Their main striker dominated the Newcastle defender. When the goal-keeper rushed up to collect the ball, the second striker ran to the striker that had ball possession. The first striker passed it to the second striker, and the second striker walked the ball into the back of the net, the goalkeeper being a long way away from home, that is, the goal. Lymington Town equalized, and the score was one all. This time, Jeet bounced happily.
“YES!” He was bouncing on his bed full of joy.
“Stop shouting Jeet!” Mother bolted from outside the room. Jeet stopped cheering. The first half of the match ended, and Jeet’s father entered the room.
“Watching football, children?” Father asked.
“Yes papa” Mahan said.
“You know, a lot has changed in football in the ten years of your life, Mahan. Of course, football keeps changing, that is how it is. But there were iconic changes. Ten years ago, Jose Mourinho left Chelsea to expand his opportunities and challenges as a manager. Louis van Gaal resigned from his post as a Manchester United manager in twenty-eighteen. Wayne Rooney retired from his football career in twenty twenty-two. Steven Gerrard retired two years before Rooney, twenty-twenty. Many great managers and coaches have retired. But there are newer changes and better footballers. When I got the news that Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo are retiring at the end of this season, it entrapped me with a wave of sadness. We are losing two precious gems in the world of football, and it is something to be sad about.”
Jeet knew no one from the list of retirements that father was rambling on about. Mahan seemed to know a few people.
“It is okay, father! I will become such a good footballer, the world will know me and I will be better than that – that, Ronald fellow or the- the messy guy!”
Mahan and father shared a laugh.
“I’m sure you will, Jeet.”
Half Time ended, and the game kicked off. Father had to report back to work. Mahan and Jeet were watching the match. Newcastle United was being threatened by Lymington Town, as their main striker got into the box to shoot. Before he shot the ball, he got tackled by forty one year old Jonas Gutierrez, was going to retire last season, but he signed a new contract for one more year. The tackle wasn’t a clean one and the referee gave the penalty.
Lymington’s number ten got ready, and he shot a very, very disappointing one. It flew miles over the cross-bar.
Lymington had another shot at goal in the sixty seventh minute, which was a goal, but it was disallowed due to the player being caught offside. Jeet groaned, and he cursed the offside rule, after asking Mahan what it really meant.
The seventy ninth minute drew nearer, and Newcastle United had a great chance. The striker through-balled the ball into the box, and as the goalkeeper of Lymington Town came up to collect the ball, Thirty nine year old Papiss Cisse slid the ball into the goal. Newcastle United was leading 2-1.
Then came the ninetieth minute, and Newcastle United had a last minute corner. They called the goalie from the other half of the field, just in case. The ball flew into the box, and right into the back of the net. The goal was scored by Newcastle United’s goalie. It was indeed a good idea to call the goalie to take a shot. Newcastle led 3-1 as the referee blew the whistle for the last time. It was full time, and the Newcastle United Football Club won. Jeet was a bit demeaned, but he didn’t really care in the end, because he loved football.
The evening drew nearer, and Mahan got shocking news. What happened was that the same person who Jeet threw his shoe at and started kicking repeatedly had been severely injured and he ended up in hospital with a dislocated shoulder. Jeet was shocked beyond measure to hear this, and requested Mahan to e-mail father to take them to the hospital so that he could apologize to meet the boy and apologize. Father immediately came home to take Jeet and Mahan to the hospital, much to the disapproval of Jeet’s mother.
Jeet chose to stay in the waiting room, because he didn’t want to see the boy. It would be too much for him to take. He heard the conversation from outside.
“Hi. I’m so sorry.”
“It’s okay. I’m on pain killers. You shouldn’t have brought him to the match, he took things too seriously.”
“I’m pretty sure you allowed him to play, you were more willing than anybody”
The two started laughing.
“Anyway, I told mom that I got injured on the field, I didn’t blame it on Jeet, because you are a good friend, Mahan – I don’t want you to get into legal trouble.”
“Get well soon, buddy”
Mahan left the hospital with Jeet. All this time Jeet thought that Mahan was enemies with the other boy, but it turned out that they were friends. Jeet would never want anyone to remind him of that day.
*** Four Years Later. ***
Jeet turned ten a week ago, but his birthday in Dubai didn’t go very well. Fourteen year old Mahan gave him news that the boy in hospital four years ago died in a car crash on Jeet’s birthday, which was also the boy’s birthday. Mahan told Jeet a week after his birthday so that his birthday won’t be ruined. The two shared a devastating following week, and Jeet would never forgive himself after that day.
*** *** ***
Jeet grew up pretty fast, didn’t he? Stay tuned for Chapter Four. Bye!