Rohit was walking through the roads pretty fast. Those lucid thoughts were in his mind. He had never thought of anything else but this. He was excited to be a part of this.
He reached his destination.
‘You’re ready brother’ His friend said, looking at him.
‘You can bet on that’ Rohit said with a smile.
‘We waited for this’ His friend said.
‘Yes, where is everyone else’ Rohit inquired.
‘We are here’ everyone suddenly appeared from the background.
‘Oh’ Rohit smiled and everyone joined him.
‘We need to win this’ Raj said with excitement.
‘Let’s give our best shot’ Ravi said.
‘But our 3 pointers aren’t good’ Rohit tried to point out the weakness.
‘We will see, let’s not shoot from any range, close to the target while passing and we can do it’ Rohit said.
‘Yes, captain’ everyone said in a loud voice.
‘Your match will start in next 15 minutes’ an official came and informed the team.
‘Yes, we are ready’ everyone nodded their heads.
The match started in stipulated time and the atmosphere was electric. It was a state level basketball final. It wasn’t their first time. They have lost previous four finals. They were playing with caution as they knew their strengths and weaknesses.
They were dribbling and shooting, but opponents were much faster than them. They were trying to control the ball, but weren’t able to get the basket more often. On the other hand their opponents were using to their advantage ‘The goaltending’. Constant free throws were increasing the worry and the gap was increasing. The first quarter ended in 5-14 and they were feeling down.
‘They are superior then us’ Ravi said while break.
‘Why are we not dribbling properly?’ Raj said to everyone.
‘I am doing my best’ Ravi said.
‘We have to close this gap otherwise we will not be able to match up the score in the last quarter of so’ Rohit said with worry.
‘Ok, let’s give our best in the second, save as much as possible and take care of goal tending’ Raj said and everyone agreed.
The second half started and the opponents started pushing a bit. They used their physical strength to take the ball away from the opponents. Rohit and Raj were able to grasp that thing, but the other three players of their team were not able to figure that out. It seemed as if the opponents were all out on attack. Three pointers, two pointers and free throws, they were about all those things. The home crowd was on their feet. Another bad quarter ended for Rohit’s team. Oh! No, it was the worst quarter and the score now rests at 12-45.
‘We can’t win this game’ Ravi said in disheartening voice.
‘No, we can’t let this chance slip away’ Raj was furious.
‘What can we do now’ Ravi looked towards Raj.
‘I am going to be the shooting guard and Rohit you should become the Point guard’ Raj said.
‘Okay, can you shoot from long range?’ Rohit was surprised.
‘Let’s give it a shot’ Raj said and everyone else agreed.
The bell again rang after some time and third quarter begin. Rohit got the ball and he passed it to Ravi. Ravi ran a distance and found Raj standing at the three point range. Ravi was quite surprised, but he passed the ball to Raj. Raj’s eyes were glued at the basket. As soon as he got the ball, he rested the ball in his right hand, raised it above his head, supported it on the left side through his left hand and jumped. All of his team members were looking at Raj. Raj was standing in a position where the opponents weren’t active. The opponents were taking guards for two pointers as they could grasp the strategy of Rohit’s team. The ball traveled a fair distance. Every eye was watching that ball. The spectators were divided. Most of them were from the opponent’s side, but few were with Rohit’s team. The ball bounced off the rim, struck the board and went inside the net.
‘Amazing’ Rohit screamed and his team members were at the high.
There was a stunning silence and then in a second that miniscule group of supporters started to roar. Rohit, Raj, Ravi and their other team members looked towards them and realized that there are their supporters. And now the game started in its full swing.
Ravi passed the ball to Rohit, Rohit took the ball dribble passed one. It was amazing to see his dribbling skills. He was dribbling low. With less distance between hand and ground, the ball was bouncing fast and he was able to walk passed the players with the ball. Rohit started dribbling between his legs and suddenly changed his direction and passed the ball to Ravi. Ravi used his peripheral vision and passed it to Raj who was waiting at his territory. As soon as Raj got the ball into his hand, he shot another three-pointer and this time the ball didn’t even touch the rim and went inside the basket.
‘Perfect shot’ Ravi screamed in disbelief.
With sudden rain of three pointers the opponents were shaken. The two pointers were still continuing but with the addition of three pointers the scoring has changed gear. This quarter was totally dominated by Rohit’s team. Now the score was 47-55.
‘I will also try for three pointer’ One of the team members said and they agreed.
‘How were you doing those crossovers?’ Ravi was amazed at Rohit’s skill.
‘Will tell you after this match, when we will win’ Rohit laughed.
‘Yes, we will’ Raj said in a positive note.
‘I will take the center position, you both should go on the attack’ Ravi said to everyone pointing towards Raj and Rohit.
‘Let’s not waste too many chances on three pointers, if we are getting it then its fine, but too many missed opportunities might cost us the match’ Rohit said and after some time they went for the fourth quarter.
The fourth quarter started steadily but Raj has started missing those three pointers and in that period of 6 minutes the opponents had extended their lead to 21 points. It was again looking as an upheaval task of winning this final match. The opponents were also wasting the time passing the ball. Ravi took the ball from one of the opponents. One of their team members ran from the right side and asked for the ball. Ravi passed the ball to Rohit. Rohit used his excellent dribbling skill to pass the ball to their team member who was standing at the three-pointer. Ravi was skeptical towards him, but he had no choice looking at the team’s condition. That member took the ball and shot in a blink of an eye.
‘Oh my god’ Ravi screamed and the score increased by three.
‘Pass him the ball for three’ Rohit signalled to Ravi and Raj.
‘Yes’ they both smiled and gave their thumbs up.
Raj and Rohit were concentrating on the two pointers and they were dribbling hard passing through the opponent’s defender to score those, on the other hand that member of their team was constantly scoring three pointers. The set shots of Rohit and Raj were dwelling results as well as the jump shots of their player. In the span of 6 minutes he had scored 7 three pointers. The difference between the teams was now five and Rohit’s team was trailing.
The clock was tickling hard and now just a minute was left. The ball was in the opponent’s hand. It was clearly evident that they would be going to lose another final. But their eyes were still in hope of a grim chance, something from somewhere. And it came when Ravi took the ball from their player and passed it to Rohit. Rohit looked at the watch, it was about to sleep. 10 second left and they needed six to win and five for a draw. Rohit wanted to win, his team had lost all the finals earlier and now he wanted to erase those all. He knew to whom he had to go for a win. The opponents were around that person and it seemed difficult to pass the ball to him. Rohit again dribbled passed on, took a sharp turn and passed the ball to Raj who was standing alongside another defender. Raj took the ball and was about to shoot. He was in the mid air when the opposing defender fouled him, but he had thrown a successful three pointer.
‘That’s my boy’ Rohit screamed
As Raj went to the ground a hooter signalled the end of the time. The crowed roared on the possible result, but Rohit smiled. As Raj was fouled while attempting a successful three pointer, they were awarded with four free throws.
The game was now in their hands. Rohit decided to give Ravi this final chance.
‘Me? No, please give it to Raj’ Ravi said with fear.
‘It’s ok, we know you are best among us in two pointers, so from short range you can do it’ Raj said and everyone patted Ravi’s back.
Ravi stood at the required point and the basket was in sight. The crowd was stunned at the possible outcome. Everyone was on their feet, with bated breath they were waiting for Ravi to shoot.
First shot and Ravi scored. Everyone smiled and sighed relief. Two more points were required and three chances were there.
Ravi looked around and he could see their opponents and their opponent’s supporters praying for a possibility of missing a shot. Ravi smiled and again shot a perfect basket.
The scores were level and just one point was required. Few crowd members were dancing and few were still praying for their favourite team. Ravi was smiling as he could feel the completion of their dream, their dream of winning the match. Ravi again looked at the basket and as he was about to deliver the shot a spectator screamed aloud. The shrillness of that voice broke Ravi’s attention and he missed the shot.
The crown again roared as if a tiger had seen his prey and was about to pounce on him. Ravi looked at his team members and they were cool, they weren’t furious. They knew Ravi was the coolest person while taking the shot.
Ravi again looked at the basket. He knew they were waiting for this from past 3 years. They had lost four finals before this. He looked around again. All the opponents were waiting like a tiger; every supporter of the opponents was waiting for another miss. It generated a small fear inside him, but then suddenly he looked at their own supporters, they all were happy and ready to explode with joy. This gave him confidence and he again looked at the basket. His eyes were glued at the prize. He stretched his hand and shot. The ball hit the rim and the breath stopped of many spectators hoping for a miss. It bounced and went inside the net.
‘We did it’ all ran towards Ravi delightfully.
Now the smallest of the crowd was screaming the most. They have done it this time and they all were enjoying the win.
‘Now tell me how you learned those crossovers?’ Ravi asked Rohit.
‘He learned it through the internet’ Raj laughed.
‘Really?’ Ravi was surprised.
‘Yes, Raj also learned those three pointer techniques from the same place’ Rohit said while laughing.
‘That’s great’ Ravi said and they started celebrating for long.
It was all fun, but life isn’t just fun. Rohit was brilliant at basketball, but he was not that brilliant with the studies. He scored just 45% in his first year and this year wasn’t good enough.
‘Congrats son’ Rohit’s father said, looking at Rohit.
‘I knew from the start’ Rohit said.
‘This all is ok, but what about your career’ His father asked.
‘I will play basketball’ He said in a lighter note.
‘Who will pay you for playing? Are you going to play for the national team?’ his father asked.
‘We have won and I am sure we will win more matches and will go for the national level matches’ Rohit said with confidence.
‘Till then who will give money to you for a living’ Rohit’s father asked in anger.
‘You’ Rohit said and smiled.
‘I have no money, if you want to follow this useless basketball, then go out of this house. Earn on your own and do whatever you want to’ Rohit father said furiously.
‘As you wish’ Rohit also became angry. He had just won a state level championship and that win was on his head. Without giving a second thought, he left his house.
Rohit went to his friend and told him the whole story.
‘What have you done?’ he said.
‘I wanted to play Basketball’ Rohit said.
‘That all is ok, but how will you eat and where you will live’ He was worried.
‘I have enough money for a year or two, let me give it a shot’ Rohit was adamant.
‘Ok then, I know a house owner who gives rooms for rent. And you can try joining a basketball club otherwise it would be hard for you to rise’ He said and Rohit agreed.
Rohit started living there and in a month or two, he also joined a basketball club. Everything was going fine, but now he was wasting his time in other things like thinking about food, budgeting and more. He understood now that he had taken a wrong decision because this has only increased his burden. He used to practice hard, but then when he comes back to his room it was all dull and untidy. This untidiness has caught him and he fell ill on several occasions. His weakness was overpowering his performance in basketball. In a year he fell ill thrice and he spent a fair amount of money for medicines.
This weakness hit hard on his performance and he dropped down to 18th best position.
‘Are you ready?’ the coach said to all.
‘Yes, sir, we are ready’ every one said.
‘Remember everyone has to play according to their position. Teamwork is more important than individual talent’ He said.
‘Yes Sir’ everyone said and took their position.
Everyone started playing and enjoying their game, but Rohit’s wasn’t in a good mood. He was unnecessarily playing aggressively and committing fouls. The coach was furious at him. Rohit was neither passing properly nor was he dribbling properly.
‘What has happened to him’ the coach was thinking.
Rohit played another bad quarter and he was substituted. He was surprised at this as he thought he was playing good. He looked at his coach in anger, but the coach was angrier than him.
In a week’s time the coach again called every one of them.
‘So how is everyone?’ Coach smiled.
‘We are, good sir’ every one said.
‘I have good news for some of you’ coach said.
‘What?’ everyone said in exciting tone.
‘You remember our last game that happened last week’ coached said.
‘Yes Sir’ everyone said.
‘That was closely examined by the national selectors’ Coach revealed.
‘What?’ everyone uttered in shock.
‘Yes, it was the instruction that I shouldn’t reveal this thing so that they could see your real game’ coach said.
‘Oh’ the heartbeat increased.
‘So I am calling the names of all the selected 10 players’ coach said and there was unrest for a moment.
The coach called all names and all of them were happy. But there was no trace of Rohit. Rohit was disheartened at this. He went to his coach after some time.
‘What have I done wrong’ He asked.
‘Your game isn’t improving’ coach said.
‘I have to do a lot of work other than playing and my physical strength wasn’t good either’ Rohit tried to justify.
‘But the selector does not understand these things. I told you earlier also that your game was going down due to your health and you should keep a check on this’ the coach tried to understand.
‘When will they come back again for selection?’ Rohit asked his coach.
‘May be next year’ he said and left.
Rohit was totally broken now. He had very less money left. He didn’t want to do a job either because in his hollow pride he left his house, when his father told him to join an office. He even didn’t have enough percentage in his undergraduate so as to get a job. Everything seemed to be black. Rohit came back and sat on his couch. He was still in a lost world. There was no way out for him. He sat there for hours and after some time realized about his hunger. He went downstairs and checked his pocket. He had just 50 Rs in his pocket. He looked around and sat in a Dhaba nearby. As he was having his food a boy sat alongside him.
‘You are looking so tense’ that boy said.
‘Yes, I am’ Rohit said and told his whole story while having food.
‘This world is so selfish and bad’ the boy said.
‘Yes, it is’ Rohit said in a low voice.
‘Don’t worry; you can get rid of all tensions’ he said.
‘How?’ Rohit asked.
‘Take these packets and you will only enjoy’ He said.
‘What are these?’ He was startled to look at those packets.
‘This will take away your all tension, I can bet on that’ he said.
‘ Yes, this surely will’ the person said while giving the bill.
‘Ok, how much are these for’ Rohit asked while holding those in his hands.
‘Free, don’t worry’ He gave those packets to Rohit and went away.
Rohit went to his room. His mind was trapped inside the agony, the agony of a loser. He didn’t know what to do. Those words ‘This will take away your tensions’ were still hovering in his mind. He looked at that packet and thought of his freedom. But something stopped him. Rohit was alone now; he wasn’t conversing with his parents and neither with his friends. Most of his friends were pursuing job after their undergraduate and hence they were busy in their own world.
Rohit knew what that powder was but his negativities and depression was on the high. Every positive thought was thrown out of his mind by the negative reality he was in. He had started believing in fortune and now was totally devastated. Next day he again went outside and saw a friendly camp of players playing basketball. He ran inside that camp. He saw school children were playing basketball. He watched them and started enjoying. After some time they asked Rohit to join them. Rohit gleefully accepted. He started playing with them, but due to no practice and deteriorated health he wasn’t playing at his best. He was not able to control the ball and students were laughing at him. In a few minutes they avoided passing the ball to him because of his bad play. He screamed for a pass, but no-one listened to him. This hurts his ego and he walked out of the game and out of the camp. He ran inside his room and saw those packets. He was in anger and frustration, a state level captain was now a subject of jokes.
He tore open that packed and had that power. There was an instant relief with that doze and then he slept nicely. Next day he woke up and again he felt the need of having that relief. He again took some of it and again felt heavenly relief. He did the same for 3 more days and then that powder finished. He ran again towards that shop and inquired about the powder. The waiter present there smiled, he can see the prey. He told him that he needed to pay money from now on.
Rohit’s urge was immense and so he instantly agreed. He was now trapped with his own wish. He ruined his career, his health and now he was in the path of ruining his life.