The Indian Colts
"I don't understand how you aren't interested! The job has been vacant for two months and there are no candidates. I am your only option. Don't you want to fill the vacancy?
", a distraught Rahul said to the person on the other side of the phone.
"Yes, you don't understand. We are interested in filling the vacancy. We just don't want to employ you in any capacity."
Another rejection. After his letter to the Shillong Lajong Sports Club got no reply or any kind of acknowledgment, Rahul had just called Stanley Colaco, in-charge of the Indian Under-21 side about the Managerial vacancy of the Indian Under-19 squad. Rahul had been the star of the "Indian Colts" during his playing days, some even considering him the most talented graduate ever. He wasn't going to give up that easily. He was considering making another phone-call that he didn't want to, someone whom he had only contacted once after his lifetime ban, but he decided against it. "If I'm going to do this, I have to do this right. I should meet him in person."
He couldn't afford a car, and now, not even a taxi. He got on his bicycle and started riding. Throughout the ride, he kept rehearsing how he thought the conversation would go - what he would say and how he would react. He wasn't paying much attention to the road, not caring much about stop signs and signals. He was lucky enough to reach his destination without any accidents, partly due to the fact that it was almost around midnight and he lived in a part of town that in no way indicated that he lived in a metropolitan city like Mumbai.
There it was - the residence of Anil Singh. The beautiful garden, the dimmed lights and the aged bungalow indicated that its inhabitants were rich and more importantly, retired, having left the fast-pace and hustle-bustle of the city. As Rahul walked through the garden, towards the door, he kept asking himself if it was the right thing to do; if he should knock on that door and open up years of restrained anger. He continued to walk.
. An old man, with white hair, and a walking stick opened the door. "Is that really you?"
"Yes, it's me, Rahul Kapoor.
", 'Let the shouting begin', thought Rahul.
"Oh, after all these years! Come in. Have a seat."
. Anil looked happy and enthusiastic to see him, which caught Rahul off-guard.
"Really? You aren't going to abuse me? No anger-filled door slamming? You are actually going to invite me into your home?"
Anil laughed. "I'm an old man, so I wouldn't be able to slam the door even if I wanted to, and I have a heart-problem. The doctor tells me swearing and anger is doing me no good whatsoever.
Rahul was joking, almost, when he said, "I wish the people in the AIFF had a heart problem.
"I wouldn't be surprised if they did. They are all older than me, and don't have hearts half as strong as I do. They called me up after these years to ask about you, actually. Wanted to know if I had any opinion on you wanting to get into management. I told them what I believe to be true - our relation was over the day you were banned. I don't know what they expected me to say."
. Anil's reply seemed genuine and heartfelt.
Rahul took the glass of water he was offered by Anil, but he continued with the questions. This was the first time he was talking to anyone who wasn't angry at him. He was the most hated man in the country, it seemed. So he wanted to take advantage of this situation. "But why aren't you angry? I effectively signed your retirement slip!"
"No, I quit my job! Your court hearings and press conferences made me realize that I had been in the game for too long."
"You have no idea how great that is to hear. All this years I blamed myself for ruining your career."
, said a relieved Rahul.
"You might not have burnt this bridge, Rahul, but you've burnt a lot of others, and is this what brought you here? To see if I was angry?"
"Ah-a-a, I actually wanted a job. No one would is even considering me, and I really want to get into management to show how much I have changed, but no one is going to give me a chance!"
, said a frustrated Rahul.
"I'll see what I can do. By the way, how is your relationship with Ravi Joshi now? He might be able to get you a job."
"Ravi Joshi? Oh crap!"
; and just like that, all the hope and happiness Rahul had disappeared.