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Punyasloke Bose



Punyasloke Bose


The Fallen Hero

The Fallen Hero

7 mins 242 7 mins 242

Ashok, a few years ago was a nonentity. He was passing through his adolescent growing up years. His time was passing like a breeze with no major obstacles. He had lot of acquaintances but very few fast friends. Among his few close friends one was Anita. Ashok and Anita had been in the same class all through from their toddler stage. They had started their education from the play group stage and always stayed together in all the classes. Their parents were very friendly to each other.

In school, Ashok had taken up tennis as a sport. As he developed a deep liking for the game he rigorously practiced to develop perfection. In a short time Ashok became a champion player. Then he started representing his school in various competitions and excelled. His school seeing Ashok's good performances started holding regular practice sessions and then championship tournaments. The game was new in school. The school saw promise in this new game and saw an opportunity to enhance it's image amongst the general public to bolster the student strength. There was severe competition among schools to enroll new students. Ashok performed exceedingly well and won all the games and championship. No one stood a match against him. Along with Ashok, there were other boys who also did very well. Ashok mostly did his practice with these boys. Sometimes Anita also played a friendly game with Ashok or these boys. Anita also developed a good hand at tennis.

In a recent exhibition match, Ashok defeated one former Davis cup player and surprised everyone. The next day the news was all over the newspapers. Ashok had now become a hero. Everyone was in awe of Ashok. Anita also held a secret desire to become a champion tennis player herself. But she was in for an uphill task. Her friends from the girls fraternity were not much enthusiastic about the game of tennis.

Only due to the success of Ashok, some boys had shown interest. So the school authorities decided to spend from their school budget on staffing the tennis coach and infrastructure.

Anita because of her passion for tennis, knew she had to shed her inhibition and be bold enough to pursue her dreams. The coach advised her to play against Ashok to develop her game.

In between another national tennis champion visited the school on an invitation. He played an exhibition-friendly match with Ashok and other boys and also Anita. He beat everyone easily, but was surprised by Ashok to whom he lost.

The whole town not only the school was raving over the success of Ashok.

Anita was also very impressed with the success of Ashok. Apart from following Ashok, Anita developed a secret admiration for him. But Ashok failed to notice her overtures. He just considered Anita as one of his friends.

Then when school over, college life began. Ashok had dreams of making tennis his profession now and wanted to become a pro. The town where he lived lacked the basic facilities. So he moved on to the metropolis to a college where he could pursue his dreams. He was lucky to earn a sports scholarship. But Anita was not so lucky. She was compelled to shelve her dreams for now. Anita had a relative in the metropolis where Ashok had moved. She convinced her parents to get her admitted in the same college as Ashok. Her parents somehow agreed after discussing with the relative as Anita would stay with them as a paying guest.

In the new environment of the college and freedom Anita got the chance to reduce the gap between herself and Ashok. To get over the boredom of the new environment Ashok also welcomed Anita in his friends circle as Anita was the only one whom he knew. Now with the help of Ashok, Anita also started dreaming of a pro career in tennis.

They began practicing in earnest. They were together at the practice sessions and at the college. Only at night they parted, Anita went to her relatives and Ashok to his hostel.

Anita's parents were very happy that their daughter was enjoying her companionship with Ashok. They wanted the two to get married. So they sent such feelers to Ashok's parents. Anita was happy to hear these developments. But Ashok had his reservations. He had other dreams. He wanted to play in the international circuit. But that was not easy. The level of the game had to be developed and for that help of a foreign coach was needed. But that meant sponsorship and for that lot of money was needed. It seemed very difficult for Ashok. Anita knew that the going would be tough but was confident that she was beside Ashok.

As time went by the dream of Ashok remained elusive. He failed to get an entry into the international circuit. He didn't have the power to lobby and nor could he muster sponsorship. Seeing his dreams getting shattered Ashok felt very dejected. He used to remember himself as a hero and now he had fallen from the high podium. Life felt very grim for Ashok. What a raw deal was up for him. For the next few months Ashok kept sulking. Nothing would suit him. He refused to go home. He didn't take anybody's call. He kept his mobile in silent mode and selectively took up calls, Anita's call was one of them. Even though Anita could break into his shell but she was also like a foreigner to Ashok. Anita tried her best to try and lift Ashok's sagging spirits. Even Ashok stopped talking to his parents. Ashok was very annoyed with his destiny of which he had become a follower. Ashok's parents kept a hot line with Anita and tried to keep updated about Ashok. It would take some time for Ashok to come out of this doldrums.

Anita, however did not stop her practice. The problem with Anita was that she was not getting any partner to practice her game.

 Then while on her way to college one day she saw a squash playing club. Being inquisitive and curious, she walked in. There she saw many boys and even girls of her age playing the game of squash. This was a game which like tennis is played with a racquet and a tennis ball but a partner is not mandatorily needed. Because the game is played by hitting the ball against a high flat wall. She felt very intrigued and also enthused at the same time. Anita made discreet enquiries and got herself admitted in the club. Very soon she started practice and immensely liked the game. She decided that she must bring Ashok to this court and introduce him to squash. She thought who knows, maybe it was in his destiny for Ashok to play squash.

By this time slowly Ashok was getting over his depression. So one day listening to Anita, Ashok visited the squash club and saw Anita play. Ashok seemed to like the game and so he also enrolled. Ashok found that there was not much glamour in this game like tennis and also there was not much of a following. But Ashok began liking the game and began practicing along with Anita.

Now, Anita began to make waves with her game. She won a few matches. The club sent her as a participant in the ongoing competition which Anita easily won.

Then very soon Anita was selected to represent her country in the Asian championships. Here she did exceedingly well and qualified to participate in the World Championship to be held next year in Europe.

Anita's parents were both very happy and worried. They would not allow her to go to some foreign country all alone as a single woman. So they started aggressively to give her marriage. But who would understand Anita's sentiments other than Ashok. Because even after marriage she should be allowed to play and participate in various competitions. Ashok's parents were agreed and surprisingly Ashok agreed. Ashok had now changed his mind. He saw promise in Anita's game. He thought that if he teamed up with Anita and made her happy then Anita could play well in the international games and may get success. The decision which Ashok and Anita took together as husband and wife was right on target. Because after their marriage, Anita's game of squash improved tremendously. She did exceedingly well in her first international outing. She even got an international scholarship and a sponsorship which helped her to develop her game infinitely. Ashok, now her husband became her manager cum coach although she now had a former champion as her chief coach. Anita now became a superheroine of a player with the help of her husband, the fallen hero. 

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