Boxer All The Time - Part 4
Boxer All The Time - Part 438 mins 425 38 mins 425
Mariya was suddenly anxious and felt she had taken a wrong decision by promising him. She wasn’t sure if she would be able to pull it off. Sometimes overconfidence plays a huge role to destroy our peace. No, she didn’t want to fall victim for it. But once she had given promise there was no way to take it back. She was ready to spend all the time in the training center if it was demanded from her side. Her husband and her father were very happy when she shared this news with them. But they both had the same concern what Mariya had. They doubted if the burden was too heavy to carry on her shoulders. That too she had completely accepted the family life and started dedicating her life for her children. But her father didn’t say a single discouraging word to her and he threw a smile instead and pressed his eyelids harder as if he sought his wife to pour her blessings upon their daughter.
Mariya knew what her father had thought, but she had no time to dwell in those things as she had to speed up her boxing practice. She again began her training session, but this time she didn’t have to succumb to the nasty comments from those ugly girls. She was alone. She wasn’t fighting for her personal records. She wasn’t fighting to prove that she was still in the race even after bearing two children. No, she was fighting to honor her country. Whenever the thick blue gloves she wore, she felt like her fingers grew too. But for a few seconds, her fingers shivered convulsively. Even she felt it was difficult to punch on the cylindrical heavy bag. When she had first drawn her hand to pummel on a punching bag her fist ached and she couldn’t even attempt for a second punch. She felt like her fingers were snapped inside the glove. She was afraid if her fingers were fractured. Her breath returned back when she had seen there was a little strain on her middle finger and it was still intact. She had stopped from practicing for about fifteen minutes, and she leaned on the back of a plastic chair and closed her eyes. She stared at the ceiling as sucking thoughts were whamming her brain continuously. Her eyes were fully open and she felt like a novice in the game and ashamed of what was her precarious position now. She felt like she was going to cheat everyone who had firmly believed her. She felt frustrated by her lack of energy. She usually was a self-motivated person. But what happened to her now. She thought she had hit a rock bottom and from where it was impossible to escape. Would she come back strong again? C’mon Mariya, raise and punch hard again. You can do it! You can do it! The roaring chorus from the cheering audience kept bonging inside her mind now. It was tempting, but not enough to stir her.
Mariya was still sitting on the chair like she had lost her father now. No, her grievance was indescribable, and probably it was bigger than her mother’s loss. She had to find a way quickly to come back and start practicing, otherwise, she had to immediately write a letter to the head coach saying I am coward and I have no guts to fight in the ring. When she thought about it, the tears were brimming on her eyelids, which was thick and black. For the past one and half months, she hadn’t shed tears, but today it was impossible to push it aside. She was helpless in this matter, though she didn’t want to show her weakened heart through her tears. She hated herself for shedding tears on and on. Now, there was a mopping stick fell on the ground. It was a small impact but it was enough to stir Mariya. Her fingers immediately traced her eyes and wiped the tears in a few strokes. She tried to pull a happy face, but she was defeated in this purpose. However, she tried she can’t bring back her normal and high electric face which was fair complexion and vivid always. She knew she wasn’t good looking now, but the fact hadn’t thwarted her from seeing who was there. It was the floor cleaner. He had come here fifteen minutes back, even though Mariya wasn’t aware of it. He was a big fan of Mariya, but he had never revealed this information in front of anyone because he was afraid the niggardly girls (now they are not here anyway) might dismiss him from here by accusing him. He worried immensely thinking Mariya couldn’t able to bolster the same strength she had a year back, he felt like his heart was pierced with a scythe on seeing her vexation as she couldn’t able to strike the punching bag effectively. He still had a fresh memory about how she used to draw all her energy to punch the cylindrical bag loudly like the floor would crack open. Even he would feel like groaning sometimes as if she had punched at his stomach, and his innards would quiver on seeing her performance.
I want to see that Mariya who was like a spewing volcano. Where she had gone now? He seemed to question her when he looked at her withered arms. He felt like going back to the front yard and shower water to the springy grass instead of standing here and see her perform low, but he didn’t. He stayed there, looking at Mariya with so much compassion. Mariya immediately rose from her seat and tried to hide her face but unsuccessfully. She didn’t want to show her defeated face to him. She only prayed that he hadn’t seen all the poor show she made earlier. Her fingers were still quivering as if she had done an imposing offense. But finally, she gathered strength to look at him. Maybe she was aware that he was a cleaner or maybe she was aware that he won’t grudge on her. Anyhow she had tried to put a brave face before him. It was something she hadn’t done earlier. You could see she wasn’t good at it.
“I am sorry madam,” the floor cleaner said politely.
He had meant that he had dropped the mop intentionally to disturb her loneliness.
“It’s okay,” Mariya said. She wanted to ask if he had seen her while she was performing badly. But she didn’t ask.
The floor cleaner who was a swarthy man and had thick whiskers said, “Madam, I am happy to see you again here. I know you are the only person can bring a gold medal to our country.”
Mariya felt like laughing at his face for talking like that. She thought it was a nice joke actually. But a throbbing pain was lurking inside her heart and she didn’t want to explain it to him. She wasn’t ready to share her thoughts with everyone she had come across her life. She was reserved type, the fact only she knew. She was afraid to even her husband knew about her whole character. Because she always had numerous thoughts buried deep in her mind. She had covered them with canvas and nobody would sneak into it.
“I think you have come just now to wipe the floor,” Mariya guessed wildly.
“No madam, I came here when your fingers were shivering to even beat a punching bag,” he said with a steady face. Probably, it was the first time he was looking at her confidently. Mariya hadn’t spoken to him much, she hardly remembered any talk between her and him earlier. The fact was that she had never encouraged people to disturb her once she started practicing, but today she needs some disturbance. She needs someone to hang on with her. Even if it was a kitten, that doesn’t matter.
“Oh God,” Mariya said, ran her fingers over her eyes and she didn’t know what to respond now, “Then you should have said I am not deserved to earn a gold medal at all. No, I am not even deserved a chance to participate in a heart-pumping game.”
“Madam, I think I don’t have to tell you this. But let me speak up. The person who knows how to perform worst can possibly know the way to perform best. This is not the quote I have thought for you. It was the truth shared by saints a long back,” the floor cleaner said.
Mariya was completely swooped down by his words. How profound that statement is? She thought.
“That’s really a good message. Thank you, but you are an interesting person. You must be doing something before you took up this cleaner job,” Mariya said. She was just guessing.
The floor cleaner smiled and held the mopping stick tightly and lowered his eyes for a few seconds and said, “My brother had dreamed to become a great shotput player, and I am prepping his dream to come true for last seven years. You know his name is Krish Jai and he is the silver medalist in the Asian games. I think you would have heard about it,” there wasn’t a speck of agitation shown in his eyes as he said it. He was still humble-minded and grounded. But there was a slight uneasiness for sharing this fact with Mariya. He had never thought he would reveal this truth to her. Even though he knew his brother’s name would have known to her, he was damn sure she wouldn’t able to guess that a floor cleaner would be his brother.
“Really? You are Krish Jai’s brother? Oh, what a pleasant surprise,” Mariya said. She knew him very well, in fact, she had met him a couple of times in Asian games and had spoken with him about her game plans. But she wasn’t a close friend with him but knew him well. Everyone in the sports fraternity knew that Mariya was friendly towards all, but she hadn’t any close friends. Maybe she couldn’t able to spend time with them. In fact, Krish had invited her for a special gathering after he won a medal, but she didn’t have gone because Bhavika was just ten days old that time. She had conveyed her wishes through a phone call to him.
“I know you couldn’t believe this because I am doing this floor cleaning job,” he said and looked at the mop.
Mariya rushed to say, “No, I don’t mean it. To be frank I have a high opinion about all the odd jobs people do in our country. I always respect people come from struggling backgrounds because I know how they would hurt themselves to earn a few bucks,” there was a genuine concern in her eyes as she looked at him. Though she was aware that she had to wear her gloves to bolster her punches, she wasn’t going to miss this opportunity to discuss with such a humble human being, who had dedicated his life for his brother’s good fortune. She had seen the sacrifice and tolerance in his appearance, she was happy to know about him finally at the extreme low point of her professional life. She was waiting to hear such a motivational story to blow the whistle for her second innings to begin. Maybe it would come from this sage-like fellow.
“Thanks, madam,” the floor cleaner said, “I always wanted all the people should think like you. You know, I had heard many embarrassing talks about me because I am still doing this cleaning job, despite my brother being a vintage shot put player. Lots of people even hesitate to shake hand with me, you know. One day when I went to attend a function which hosted by a reputed fellow in the business fraternity, I was thrashed down just because they came to know I was a cleaner. The saddest part was that my brother hadn’t supported me at all. Yes, that was the last day I stood next to him. He didn’t want to stay with me anymore. I am not telling all these things because I wanted to accuse him, I am telling this to you because I had seen tears in your eyes and you were suffering intensively as you couldn’t regain the power to punch hard. I don’t know, these days if I come across whoever suffering I feel like they belong to me. Madam, you must forbid me for talking like this,” his voice was low but reverberating. His words hadn’t kept her mind vacillating, in fact, Mariya could feel the struggles he would have carried on his shoulders to make his brother’s dream come true. She had seen the same honesty, determination and unflinching attitude she had seen in her husband. She felt lucky to interact with him today, it was like God had sent him to meet her and pour out his thoughts on her. She was relaxed now and was able to smoothen her wild feelings she carried in the morning. But she worried because his brother had betrayed him in the end. She knew how painful it was for him to live without any attachment with his young brother who became a national celebrity like her.
“It’s my pleasure talking to you. I never had a brother, but I wished all the time. Shall I call you my brother?” Mariya asked. Her face flooded with curious emotions. The color of her face turned to purple when she said it to him.
The cleaner wasn’t expected such a surprising request from a phenomenal person like her. Oh God, am I dreaming now or what? How could she become my sister? Is she joking or trying to compromise my hurt which I carried in my heart after losing my brother? No, Mariya could never speak lies as my brother did to me. She is a gem of a person I had never seen anyone before. Thank God for gifting me such a lovely sister, he thought. He couldn’t hold on the tears spurting from his eyes anymore. The tears crept down his cheeks and he didn’t bother to wipe it.
“You must be joking,” he said. His lips were quivering. The mopping stick he had held in his hand was slipped and fell on the floor.
“No brother. I am your sister from now onwards and you can talk to me and tease me and hit me if you wanted to, okay?” she said, smiling. She had almost forgotten about her worries that she couldn’t punch like a champion as her fingers were less strengthened and feeble and weak. She was enjoying this moment to converse with a fellow whom she knew for more than two years but hadn’t talked this closely before. She was happy at least she can talk to him now.
“No, no, no, I can’t hurt you, madam,” he said, as wiped his tears with the back of his hand like he was a small kid.
Mariya threw a pissed off face, as she nodded her head and said, “You shouldn’t call me madam anymore, got it? I am your sister and you should stop talking with me formally, otherwise, I am not going to talk with you,” her voice was sullen this time and she turned her head aside as if her mother hadn’t bought her a saree which she was very much interested to wear.
There was a faint smile peeked out of his eyes as he looked at her and said, “Okay Mariya sister, I won’t call you madam anymore.”
“Hmmm, that’s a smart brother,” she said and twinkled her eyes. Her eyes lit brightly like two big stars.
“But can I ask one thing?” he said, but not hesitantly. His lips stretched as conveyed his enthusiasm to ask this question.
Mariya was stupefied because she didn’t know what he was going to ask. In fact, she wasn’t prepared for this sudden question. But she was glad to answer him.
“Of course, please let me know brother. It’s my responsibility to make it real,” she said.
Her brother took a deep breath and said, “I wanted to see you strike that punching bag fiercely as it should sail in the air and break that light bulb,” the cleaner said. There was an intense emotion stood on his eyes when he said this. His cheeks drew tighter as he showcased the enthusiasm to see her perform well. It was a treat to his eyes to look at her clenching the gloves tightly and blow away the heavy bag just like that.
Mariya didn’t know what to respond him. Probably, she was feeling the embarrassment crept slowly on her soul as she may not able to fulfill his desire. She was guilty about it. The way her fingers shivered earlier to beat it was still imprinted in her mind and she still hadn’t come to her comfort zone to maximize her potential. She knew it would end up in futile performance if she even tried once again now. But how she was going to deny him? If she wouldn’t do what he had requested it would only show that she was faking the relationship she had promised earlier. No, I couldn’t cheat him, she thought.
“But brother, as you know I got into practice today only after a long time and I am still struggling to find my rhythm,” she said. She was diffused and hated for saying such drowsy words.
“Yeah sister, I know you were struggling. That’s why I am asking you to perform like a real champion as you usually do. I don’t want to see you plunging into low self-esteem. You had always shown guts to smash the opposite fighters with your relentless power and furious attack, but I am missing such power in you now. I wanted to see you succeed again, please let me see the heavy trademark punch you always owned for yourself,” he said.
Mariya could see the tendon on the back of her neck was standing, the blood rushed in gusty speed to arteries of her heart. Her hands were clenched as she drew a strong breath. She was no more going to tell anyone that she couldn’t perform well as before. She knew all she needed was one positive thought to smother the negative thoughts which kept lowering her will power. Though she was aware that strenuous practice was required to win in the big game like Olympic, it is also required keeping oneself in a positive frame of mind to conquer anything comes on their way.
“Yes, I will try for you,” she said, but not reluctantly. She had a steady and focused mind now. All her positive energy thrummed through the back of her spine as she confessed it.
She walked down slowly. She wasn’t confident yet, but she wanted to do it. He followed her. She stood in front of the punching bag about an arm distance, and she grabbed the gloves which were on the floor as knelt down slightly. But her eyes were concentrating on the punching bag. She took a deep breath as wore gloves in each hand. She suddenly felt roaring like a lion now. Her fiery eyes had meant it. Failure never matters, but participation is very important, the thought was kept repeating in her mind now. Now, she was ready to pound at the punching bag, aiming to shatter the bulb hanging on the wall a couple of meters distance. Her brother was standing next to her. But she didn’t want to talk to him now. Her action should speak now, instead of babbling with him. She stretched her left hand forward as her right hand stiffened like a rock, and she was ready to knock down anything now. Oh goodness, there was no hint of shivering, what happened to her suddenly? But her task not yet finished. She pulled her right hand like a trigger of the revolver and released it with a booming thrust as her strike landed on the punching bag heavily and it was hurtled in the air like an arrow and knocked the bulb which was shattered into million pieces. Bang….bang….she regained her confidence back and she knew she can knock down anyone in the opposite now. It was just a matter of self-belief and an impeccable faith in one’s ability. Her newly brother clapped as watched this incident with his astonished eyes, he simply can’t believe how Mariya can do this so easily and elegantly. But this wasn’t the moment to analyze the strength and weakness of hers, it was the moment to cheer her. He kept clapping until Mariya blushed. She was always like that. Not interested to take credit for whatever achievement she had done, she always wanted to stay away from excess praises. She knew excessive praise can deteriorate her performance, and she had never dared to take indulgence in it.
As the head coach entered the training room, the cleaner drew away from her and continued his floor mopping work. Mariya didn’t say anything. But they will be talking together often. There was no doubt about it.
After ten days of strenuous practice, Mariya’s muscles had become inured like the stump of an oak tree, and she was ready for the game. There was no hint of hesitation to participate in the Olympics. Even the head coach was tremendously happy for the way she had undergone the practices sessions, despite she was having a small baby in her home. Mariya had to thank her father for doing her job in the home, to protect her children. Bhavika became close to her grandfather, she even started crying if she couldn’t see his face once she was woken up. It doesn’t matter if Mariya was present there or not. The little girl would keep crying until she had seen her grandfather who should take her in his hands and lullaby her. It was like he became a new granny for her. But Mariya was happy about this change, and she loved the attachment of her kid with her father. This had given her more time to concentrate on her practice sessions, which were going smoothly so far, despite her physical strains. Of course, the physical exhaustion was there at the end of the day. But she would be fresh again the next morning after having a good sleep. She knew the sleepiness was the best doctor to cure all the strains in her body. Nothing was a better replacement for sleep. The major competition was coming closer day by day. The head coach was relieved since he didn’t have to look for another player to represent in the boxing game. His doubts about Mariya had already vanished from his brain, and he was feeling quite relieved and waiting to see the game from the front row like one of her million fans. There was nothing new about this. He had already cheered for her earlier, but that was for the sake of boxing. But these days, he had adored her character a lot, he knew her personally and understood how much struggles she had confronted to pull herself to this stage. She became his role model, not that he wanted to become a boxer in this age, but for the reason that she was a never give up persona. He wanted her to clinch the fifth gold model for our country, and he would be the happiest person if she can pull it off in this boxing event. It can add one more feather to her glorious life. He wished for her success from the bottom of his heart.
“Mariya, just be yourself and fight hard. Even if you take thousands of blows, remember this word. NEVER EVER GIVE UP,” her father’s words were kept ringing on her head when Mariya had passed through a narrow gap in between the huge audience gathered in the stadium to witness this high-octane game. Mariya wouldn’t still believe that she had driven out the third-seeded Chinese Nian Zhen from the semifinal. It was like a dream for her. Though the initial rounds were tough for her, she had performed brilliantly in the semifinal match. The first round match with Hungarian Liliana was toughest one she had ever remembered, she was kept raining blows on Mariya’s face and eventually, she collapsed on the stage. Gasping for breath and the fake teeth plopped out of her mouth and thick saliva rushed out immediately. It looked like she had to rush back to a hospital, even the referee had looked at the emergency bodyguards who were standing close to the stage to pick her up in a stretcher and admit her in a hospital for medical treatment. But she had risen like a phoenix bird in the next moment, she had even refused to wipe the blood crawling down her jaw and stood up with weakling legs, but she wasn’t going to give up for sure as her father’s words were boomed in her ears. This time even the audience and referee were afraid that she was going to die sooner if she kept fighting with the furious Hungarian. The opposite girl was sturdier than Mariya and had long legs and arms which were muscled like men’s. She was eagerly waiting to knock down Mariya and clinch into the second round. She knew Mariya wasn’t having an ounce of force in her body to confront her, she felt like laughing at her for her poor decision to fight back again. But she didn’t smile and kept watching Mariya’s move. At the same time, she thought it was much easier for her to give a mighty blow on her head to make her tumble down from the stage. Mariya was still looking ungraciously as her legs slightly wobbled for a few steps, but her arms were still stronger. She just wanted to do one thing. Attack this witch with the clenched fist, as she aimed at the gut of her stomach, not head or neck. The Hungarian girl moved closer and running her feet to and fro, she looked like jogging on the stage enthusiastically. You could see the joy in her eyes as she had a feeling that she was going to win the game. But she was wrong. Mariya stretched her hand valiantly and punched in the center of her stomach as pasta like pastry food plopped on the stage from her mouth. Her head whirled back and she brought her gloved hands to her ears immediately. She couldn’t believe what had happened now. It was a nightmare for her. How this poor bitch can hit me like this, she thought. But the damage was done. She didn’t have time to think about all these things. She wanted to avoid the next punch coming from Mariya, who didn’t give a second for her as her hand again swooped and this time the right of her cheek bounced and danced to the fiercest blow came on her face. That’s it. The girl was flattered now. Her eyes were staring at the center of the ceiling. The audience didn’t clap because they were stunned and shocked. They didn’t know how to react for this mysterious match result. A few seconds back they thought the Hungarian was going to win the match, but now the girl who was struggling to breathe and badly wanted a medical treatment became a winner. This wasn’t an easy moment for them to soak and cherish. They need time and at the same time a strong heart to digest such storming twists in the tales. But eventually a small girl started cheering for Mariya, you know what, this girl belonged to the Hungarian country. But understand how she would have inspired by Mariya’s victory to cheer for her. Then thunderstorm of applause boomed in the stadium as all Indian supporters kept clapping and clapping until Mariya had exited from there.
The next two matches were tough, but not as difficult as the one Mariya faced in the first round. But she had bent all her experience so relentlessly to become a winner. Now, it was time for her to perform in the final.
She knew that everything would go in vain unless until she won the title. All her concentration was in the final game. She knew it wasn’t easy to beat a US boxer just like that. She still couldn’t believe how she had thrashed the third-seeded Chinese girl in the semifinal. But she didn’t want to take more credits for this. Maybe she would have had some physical problems during the match and it would have upset her performance or she would have had some personal problems or she would have got exhausted after so many matches she had played last year, Mariya thought as she sat on the balcony of a luxury hotel which was overlooking an island. The soft breeze was so good on her cheeks, she felt like she was lying on the bed in the spa center. The moon was slowly climbing up and up as if she was slowly brushing aside the billions of stars brimming on the sky. It was cold but there were no clouds, and definitely, rain wouldn’t come down. But she could hear the rustling tree leaves as the branches swayed well to the rhythm of the wind. It was an ecstatic moment for her to pamper her atavistic feelings. She couldn’t find a better place than this to soak in peacefulness. All she needed before a big tournament was a peaceful and noiseless mind. During these hours, she would never think about her game plan at all. She always flows with the current of each moment. She had a strong belief in instincts and the power of God than brooding unnecessarily about what was going to happen in the next day. Maybe that was the reason why she was able to come back strongly. But she didn’t want to give all the credits to this approach, because that would be an insane attitude. She knew without hard work nothing can be achieved. She had enough training from the morning till evening. She had shed all the sweat her body can pour out. Now she was ready and waiting for the big game to begin. But still there was some nervousness, there was unknown anxiety still biting her soul and making her restless. She had even called her husband who was staying in the other hotel down on the next street because a husband and wife (the participant) shouldn’t stay together during the games. It was a rule imposed upon all the players. They didn’t want to deter the focus of the player. But Mariya wanted to talk with her husband, she wanted to lace her fingers with his and hear his encouraging words. What else she needs in this moment than the brewing love and to lean on his shoulders. Even though she talked with her father and her children, the vacuum in her heart wasn’t fulfilled. After all her husband was part of her, she still couldn’t stay away from him and live for a few days alone even after giving birth to two children. All she could do now was to connect with him through Skype or WhatsApp video call, but definitely, she wasn’t going to call him for sure because she would start missing him largely if she had seen his face in it. No, I am not going to call him, she thought. Her eyes were moistened, but she didn’t cry. She didn’t want to cry like a baby, even though she felt like crying now. The food she kept on the table was getting colder, she had almost forgotten about this. Finally, she was able to brush aside all her petty thoughts and sat on a cushion leather seat behind a small round table, it was her idea to have dinner here so that she can dwell in the beauty of nature for few minutes. She made the setup nicely. But in between her mind flew back to home and she became nostalgic. Now, she started pecking the food, slowly first and started eating briskly because she loved to eat Spaghetti, hamburger, and tempura which was nothing but deep-fried seafood. There was a club soda on the table, and she always felt a need for it whenever she had foreign food. She slowly started munching the slice of hamburger in her mouth. Suddenly her cell phone rang, she didn’t like to be disturbed while eating but she stood up and ran into the posh bedroom and removed her mobile from the charger and looked at it. She was feeling so great to see her husband online, yes, he made a skype call. She clicked the answer button with a swipe.
“Hello Mariya, how do you do?” he said. He wanted to smile, but he didn’t.
“Doing great honey, I am just thinking about you while having my dinner,” she said.
“Ok, how was the practice today? Are you feeling confident for tomorrow’s match?” he said.
She sighed because she didn’t want to talk about this practice and training again. It was boring to keep hearing these words after she had done the work out extremely hard today. She wanted him to talk about something personal, maybe to espouse her love feelings. That would have been better than talking about her game now.
“Dear, c’mon talk something else. I have done all the hard work, okay?” she said as if she was confronting a school miss who was accusing her of not doing homework properly.
“Oh oh….sorry Mariya, I thought you would like to discuss tomorrow’s final match. But that’s all right,” he said and took a deep breath, “I won’t talk about it now. So, how do you feel there? It’s pretty cool here, I could hear the sea roaring somewhere and the cold air is almost stinging my cheeks as I am standing in the rooftop of my hotel,” he said. He could see Tokyo skytree from where he was standing. It was vivid and sparkling like a lighthouse to the big city.
“Hubby…….” Mariya threw a pissed off face, “you are talking as if you are thousands of miles far from me. Just know that you are a couple of kilometers away from here.”
He grinned. She could see his face blooming like the parachute was unfolding in the air, “Yeah, I forgot about it, dear. I feel like I am living in India and you are in Tokyo,” he said.
Mariya didn’t smile but responded emotionally, “That’s because we are not staying together.”
“That’s right. That’s right,” he shook his head. He had read her thoughts in her mind now. He knew she was missing him so badly, but he didn’t want to let her continue the same way because he was afraid her game would be affected tomorrow. He wanted to disconnect this call as soon as possible.
“So, any comments from your head coach? I mean, does he feel proud of you?” he asked. He knew he was shifting the question abruptly, but it was to smother her thoughts which were swirling around him.
The food was getting colder like it was frozen. But she wasn’t going to eat today if she continued to dwell in her personal miseries. Now, she walked slowly in the narrow space in her balcony, you could hear the soft clicking of her feet movements. Her hair was flowing in the back as the gust of wind brushed past her.
“Yeah, he is. You know what, he became my devoted fan, I am not telling this to get a crown on my head, but to tell you that he became a soft person these days. There is a paradigm shift in his character, which I have noticed here. I am really happy that he reposed his faith in me finally. I am still nervous to let not ruin his hope,” she said. Her words were not coming easily, because she had to get it from the bottom of her heart.
“That sound’s great Mariya, I love you, dear. I wanted you to win the title. Not for me or the coach, you should win the title to honor our country. That’s all I need from you,” he said, he was little shaky now. He was trying to avert his face because tears stood in his eyes. He didn’t want to show it to his wife. He didn’t want to suffer her.
“Hey, are you crying?” Mariya said in a strange voice. She had never seen his eyes glistened, but for the first time. She wanted to hold him in her hands, but she couldn’t.
“No nothing. I am all right, babe,” he said as pressed his face tightly as to not show his eyes to her, “But you are going to win the game, got it?” the voice was little husky, but there were love and compassion mixed in it.
“Sure honey, I will try my best. I even ready to shed all my blood for the sake of this victory. What else I need than to see smiles on my fans faces whoever always love me and support me all the time,” she said. She thought of people in our country who were eagerly waiting for her win. She knew how they would have celebrated her victory in the previous matches, particularly the first round match win which was the reason why she was able to come this far. She would normally never entertain to read stories about her victory because it was overwhelming and she was afraid it might affect her games. That was the reason why she had never touched a newspaper while she was preparing for a game. That too tomorrow she would be in the limelight. But she knew from her husband how fans had performed pooja for her to become a champion. One of the acts from her fan almost broke her heart when she heard that he had shed a liter of blood in the name of God to let her win the title. She wasn’t angry with that person, but she felt like rushing back to the place where he lived. She wanted to fall on his feet for loving her game enormously. What have I done to earn such adorable fans? She thought and wept as talked with her husband earlier.
“Okay dear, it’s getting late. Take good rest. I will see you in the tournament,” he said and waited for her response, but she didn’t reply anything, “tell me if I shouldn’t be there. I will go somewhere watching new places around Tokyo, but I want you should feel comfortable in the game.” It wasn’t something new. Whenever she performed she had never encouraged her close relatives to stay there in the stadium, somehow she felt it was difficult to control her eyes from looking at their faces, which obviously avert her focus. But tomorrow she wanted her husband to be present there because she knew it was going to be her last game.
“You should be there, dear,” she said.
“Are you sure?” he wanted to know if she was telling for the sake of not affecting his expectation to be there.
“Yes, I am sure. You should be there. I wanted you to see me raging in the game furiously. You come and sit right in front of my eyes, got it?” she said. You could feel her cheeks shaking as she told this. There was smoke billowing up in her eyes.
“I do Mariya. I will meet you tomorrow in the stadium, good night,” he said and disconnected the call.
The final game began with much furor. You could see the anticipation and excitement in the audience faces who were sitting on the edges of their seats as if the game was already very tough between the players. There were Indian flags everywhere, though American supporters came all the way to Japan to cheer for their girl. The referee was the first person the audience can able to see in the ring. Mariya and Josephine (the opponent) hadn’t yet come to the ring. Yes, now Josephine appeared in the narrow aisle between the audiences as she walked down with a cheerful face but somewhat arrogant as if she had won the title already. She wore black gloves which were shone like it was polished until your face shown on it. Her supporters gave a thumping roar as she passed them to climb up the boxing ring. Immediately she started jogging around the ring and jumping on it with so much enthusiasm. She wasn’t taller like Mariya, but had a strong pair of legs and arms. You could see her back of the shacks thrummed with muscles, her thighs were jiggled like a bull in the fierce race, her face was somewhat big but she looked good. Definitely, she would have broken many boys’ hearts in her young age for sure. On the other side, Mariya looked simple as she always preferred, she wore a sleeveless blue vest and knee-length trousers. But there was no agitation in her eyes at all, and she looked mentally prepared for the game. Her heartbeat was pumping as normal as any yogi sits under the tree and do meditation. But that doesn’t mean Mariya didn’t have any intensity of winning this game. She knew the more agitated your mind, you become weaker, that’s the reason why she wanted to be stay focused in the game without vacillation of her mind. The supporters were much interested to catch a glimpse of her breath than seeing her climbing up the ring. Mariya finally stood on the ring as faced the young and vigorous but experienced Josephine. The head coach was watching this game from the first row, he was there just like any other fan in the stadium, having a big Indian flag in his hands and waiting for the right time to wave it. But her husband didn’t come to the stadium because he knew the last night call was just an emotional conversation and she might be disturbed if she had seen him here. Not to tell that he would be eagerly watching this match alive in the TV by staying in his hotel room, on other side, her father and her child Dhanya were crammed together on the sofa in the house to see this furious and high voltage drama unfold before their eyes.
The referee blew a whistle and the audience started roaring as Josephine immediately sprung on her feet and punched Mariya at the left side of her neck fiercely. Could you believe it? It happened within a fraction of second when the game began, Mariya wasn’t even in a position to take this blow, she was almost collapsed but she didn’t fall down. She was still standing on the ring, her mind was almost jammed and her ears weren’t audible anymore. Mariya could have understood the power of this girl now. But Mariya had to immediately respond to her, otherwise, the game would be impossible to bring back on her favor, let alone win in this game. The Mariya supporters’ tension grew multifold on seeing this unexpected beginning of this highly powerful game. The stadium soaked in silence, the place became a funeral procession on Indian’s side. But a thin crowd was cheering for Josephine as they started clapping, hooting, and hugging each other as if the match was already finished. Particularly, the young couple who sat on the north side in the middle of the row was waving the American flags, standing and holding their arms. But they had to sit down now because Mariya had come forward and punched Josephine at the tip of her chin, which was almost broken. It was a furious blow. The girl was almost tossed in the air and fell over the thick ropes which were knotted squarely in the ring. No, she wasn’t bleeding, but her left jawline was already swollen. Josephine was shocked and she hadn’t expected she would react strongly like that. There was a cramping pain on her left side face, and even she struggled to swallow a lump down her throat. She wanted to drink a sip of water, but she didn’t. She bounced back from the ropes and stood firmly and moved her feet to and fro easily, and her ligaments were working at best. There was no doubt about it. Still, everyone knew she was having an upper hand than Mariya possibly had. But Mariya won’t give up easily either. Josephine would have realized this truth now. Now her eyes were focused only on Mariya like a tiger which was waiting to prey upon the deer. Mariya wasn’t coming front, but going back instead, letting her come to her forte. Josephine did as she expected and her right hand swung like the blade of an axe now, but it missed the target as Mariya drew her head aside at the right time. If Mariya wouldn’t have drawn her face, the blow would have knocked down at least her two teeth. Mariya was aware of it. Then came another blow from Josephine, this time she couldn’t thwart the blow as it had knocked her right chest. She felt like her lungs were rattled inside and were broken. A second, she couldn’t able to breathe at all. Though she was trying to breathe hard, the oxygen hadn’t passed to her lungs swiftly, and she was sweating badly. Oh God, give me some power back, I can’t shine until you will bless me, this was what she thought as she closed her eyelids for a fraction of second. This was a daredevil game where even if you shut your eyes for a second, you would end up in physical deformation. No one had to tell Mariya. The tons of experience she had would have taught her many things. But Mariya wouldn’t want to switch to defensive mode now. She knew defensive mode only shows her fears. She was always ready to die bravely than submitting to her worst fears. This time blood whooshed through her veins ferociously as she positioned sublimely and swung her left hand and pummeled on her front neck. Oh gosh, everyone heard the bone crashing noise. The Indians were started cheering now, Mariya… Mariya…. Mariya…… noise roared to the sky. Josephine’s eyes almost bled when her left hand passed to her neck and realized what had happened to her. She knew there was a bone fracture for sure. Before she had nodded, another blow came piercing through the air and fell on her right side head. Whomp….Josephine’s knees crawled down, and she was wobbling back as if she suddenly became an old woman. She probably would have realized the striking power of Mariya now. She hadn’t expected such a blow, and it was like the lightning had struck her down. She had now understood how Mariya had become four-time gold medalist and how she still working harder after giving birth to two girls. When Josephine got the news that she had to fight with Mariya who was a married woman and mother of two children, she laughed and threw a haughty face at her coach and said, ‘I will knock her flat on the ground at the first round itself.’ Though she had struck Mariya in the beginning as she had said, it wasn’t enough to win against the powerful woman like her. She is a great example of how to fight again, even though odds are higher to lose your game. She probably trained well about the art of success.
The referee had talked with Josephine to let her come back in the second round, she tried to wake up but she couldn’t. Her body slowly rose high and fell back again. The Indians were already celebrating the victory. The Indian flags were flying round and round with millions of smiling faces. What else a nation needs to be prouder than her girl became victorious in an electrifying game. That to everyone knew how much struggles Mariya had faced making this dream come true. Even her head coach started shedding happy tears as he rose and cheered for her. The American fans were upset because they couldn’t digest the fact that being top in the world doesn’t help them to win a game against a country where still farmers die of poverty. They probably would have learned a lesson now that not to underestimate the power of our country and particularly the women who are living in here. What Mariya did today had led them to shame themselves. However, Mariya was the first person sprung to know how Josephine was feeling now. Though Mariya was feeling hurt for punching the opponent harder, she was ready to put her pain aside to take care of this girl who had come from a few continents to participate in this game. But a game is a game. And it’s over. Now it was the time to being genuine and show compassion with the tenderness of heart.