From the day I noticed some guys pushing a ball with a stick that seemed very much like my grandpa’s old umbrella stick, I have never understood Hockey. Now you might wonder why I needed to understand the game at all. And if I did not understand it then why bother?
Well... the answer to the aforementioned question is not very simple. My brother was a hockey player you see and represented his school in many glorious fights on the field and yellow cards, red cards and temporary suspensions and lifetime bans and while he was not cooling his heels on the bench he also played hockey. And when his school played against other schools in Bangalore, my Dad attended every match religiously with me. My Dad like a good and supportive Dad did not miss a single match if possible. And as a supportive Dad, he also believed firmly that all the referees were bad and had a personal vendetta against his son except the ones who let my brother off the hook for flagrant violations. I had a good teacher in my Dad and like most little girls; I too thought my Dad was always right. (I hope Sr. Genevieve is reading this and will understand my healthy disrespect for her authority).
Now being the only girl in the family of three very male males, my mom was damn particular that I should not turn into a tomboy. So while other girls wore Bermudas and pants with ease, my mother thought a very girly frilly frock is what I should be attired in to drive home the point that I was a girl…just in case I forget and do ungirly things like swear and climb trees. And she was right… I went on to become a nice little girl who wore frocks and swore and climbed trees.
So it was with frilly frocks and ribbons in the hair that I went to see the Hockey matches in various boys’ schools in Bangalore. I looked as natural as a nun on a dancing pole but then my Dad had no choice; it was that or leave me behind. And leave me behind he never did. He knew this was an opportunity to get me out of my mom’s nefarious “feminizing” designs. On the other hand he was also worried that I would grow up to be a girl. Therefore she never thought it amiss when my Dad told her that he was taking me to the hockey match to instill in me the sporting spirit besides he pointed out that I would also learn a lot from the experience. My Mom nodded pleased. She was sure it would be good for me.
As soon as we reached the grounds, the frilly frock would come off and I would be clothed in more appropriate denims and told to go have fun while my Dad joined the other Dads in cursing the referee. The result was that I came home looking like a dust devil wearing a very clean and neat frilly frock with the crease lines intact. There was nothing my ma could do. Dad had kept his end of the bargain. She still thinks this is one of the Unexplainable Mysteries of the world.
While the hockey match was in progress, us the non playing siblings of the sports stars had a lot to keep us amused. There was the school playground with swings and Jungle Gym and the balloon man who set up pole for every match. And of course the ice cream cart and various other vendors who lined up near the school gates. I just loved hockey matches for this. Unlimited ice creams and sweets and almost anything to keep me amused.
Me: Dad I want to go home!
Dad: Here is a fiver. Go buy yourself some ice cream.
Everyone agreed that I was the most sporting little girl around.
Now back to the game of Hockey. If I were to define Hockey, I would describe it as an enormous dust cloud! Frankly that’s all I saw of the game, besides dusty heads veering in and out creating more dust clouds in the grounds. Not that it mattered to me, but I had to come and give attendance to my dad from time to time to reassure him that I had not wandered off and it was kinda hard to spot him from the other dust covered Dads on the sidelines. It took some concerted staring to spot something familiar like a familiar shirt or pants or watch, to figure him out from the line of dusty Dads.
Me to a Dad: Are you my dad!
Dad: No! Whose kid are you?
Me: My Dad’s!
Dad: I suggest you look around baby!
Me: I did!! *sob*
Dad: Err don’t cry. How does you dad look like!
Me: He wears glasses!
How did the dads make out their sons from among the dust colored players still beats me. Everyone looked the same! Sometimes bored of the swings and merry go rounds, I would wander in to watch the match. And then, I and the other teeny boppers played a unique game called Spot Your Sibling. This was a really difficult game and we rarely got it right! Another fiver and an ice cream set right the disappointment real fast.
After the game, the Dads sat around the outpatient lobby discussing the game, dissecting the scores and bad mouthing the referees while the sports stars got their hands and legs stitched up and black eyes attended to. Though I was not a hockey pro or a sports doctor, I sincerely felt that all that my brother and his team mates needed was the good old home remedy of... a solid arse whooping. My mother agreed. But who would listen to an eight year old? I sincerely feel that I had a bright future in sports medicine.
And yes, my brothers team never won a game, “because” of some spectacularly bad referring in favor of their highly talented, hard working and focused opponents.
Have a nice week friends!