I was never a major athlete but I loved to take part in sporting events. I was on the basketball team in school, dabbled in athletics, table tennis and even was on the House volleyball team albeit to make up the numbers.
More than the inter school matches which were by far few (and us dainty darlings were trounced by the corporation school kids) the inter House events were one of the most memorable part of school for me. Staying back in school post classes for matches, races and relays, being able to traipse around the place in short, juniors and seniors (boys that is) cheering you on if you belonged to their House, the competition, the cat fights, the adrenalin rush!
Oh I miss all of that! We compete everyday with people at work, but behind that there are multiple considerations, of a livelihood being earned, of trying to balance work and life, of “fulfillment” being sought at the workplace. We don’t compete just for the sake of competing. It stops being a fun activity, at times it stops being healthy.
Winning these events won us medals and cups and certificates. We beamed and walked up to get these little baubles on Sports Day, proud and happy in front of our parents and indeed other parents. I even took pride in the fact that I was a regular on the choir that sang the prayer and the national anthem! Winning the overall shield was an icing on the cake and the House members shared such a unique bond…a bond that transcended age and sex..where the only common link was the House one belonged to! It was thanks to these events that I met my really good friend as well! We held “meetings” and conducted them with such seriousness and in full earnest that only teenagers could invest in such seemingly unimportant things. Who was to be on the team, who was to be given the boot, the politics was there but largely most people got to participate considering the small size of the school.
One of my heart’s secret desires was to become a captain of my House or even the school! And I stood a very good chance of this happening if not for our move to Madras and I had to change schools in Standard XI when the captains were typically nominated. After my change of school, I found it very difficult to garner that loyalty for my new House, I did take part in the events, but my soul was not there.
My very last Sports Day at this wonderful school was washed out. It was the first time I was supposed to take part in a 100 metre race, the only event that was held on the Sports Day (all other events were spread out over a 1 month period prior to the actual day) and I was a bit nervous about it. But it never happened and the year I left the management changed and they actually stopped holding inter house events (it was almost like the Taliban banning everything under the sun) and other extra curricular activity. That maniac of a principal was thankfully removed a couple of years later and the tradition was revived.
At times I wonder if that part of me is still alive somewhere in me. That girl in blue shorts and a yellow t shirt, running around dribbling a ball, defending baskets, “terrorizing” the opponents with my long hands that could tap the ball away from opponents, the girl who tried out every event including shotput (yeah thin me – almost fracturing my wrist in the process), the girl who surprised everyone even herself by taking part in a high jump event after there was a last minute drop out and placing third, free spirited and happy.
Nowadays we play Scrabble and Battleship.