This story is chapter 2 of the 3 part short story. You can read Chapter 1 by clicking this link – Chapter 1 – Bated Breath
Virat Kohli hit the ball straight down the ground for a boundary. The crowd in the stadium went berserk. He was in sublime form. He was not called the “Chase Master” for nothing. When he was at the crease, no target seemed impossible. He believed it. The entire country seemed to believe it. Chants of “Kohli Kohli” rang around the stadium as he deposited the second ball of the over straight into the stands. India seemed to be making light work of this chase thanks to Kohli at the crease and one could see the opposition shoulders sagging even on their television screens. Rahul switched off the TV in disgust. The others in the room including his parents watched him helplessly. It seemed as if it was an unsaid rule these days that if Rahul wasn’t interested in something, nobody else should be. His mother came to Rahul to console him as he was hobbling out of the room with revulsion on his face there for all of them to see. Walking with the crutches only made it worse. He ignored her and left the room.
Once outside the room, Rahul’s mind seem to clear out but his thoughts still seemed shambled. He felt as if he was the only person in the country not celebrating India’s performance at the World Cup. After that fateful night two months ago, a lot had changed in his life. It still seemed to him as if it was yesterday that he and his teammates were returning back after celebrating his selection into the Indian Team for the World Cup. The ear shattering bang, the crunch of steel on steel, the endless spinning of the vehicle, the sudden halt against a barricade and the siren of the ambulances. He vaguely remembered being hauled on a stretcher and after that everything went blank. When he woke up, he was in extreme pain. He could neither move his arms or legs. He had sustained multiple fractures of his right leg. His body was covered in abrasions but he was alive. His first thoughts were about the World Cup and he groggily asked the doctor what had happened to him. But the only answer the doctor gave him was “Take rest”. It was only after he left the hospital after 3 weeks was he told about his teammates. All of them had sustained grievous injuries. All except Manish who was at the wheel. Manish had succumbed to his injuries on the spot of the accident. The news knocked the life out of him. They had both grown up together on the cricket field. That night Rahul wept and wept. For some reason he blamed himself for his friends death.
A loud cheer from the neighbours compound woke him up from his reverie. Another boundary from Kohli he assumed. Rahul lit a cigarette. He had discovered this soothing habit after his accident much to the disdain of his parents. I should’ve been the one hitting those boundaries today.I should’ve been the one helping India bring the Cup back home he pondered.Instead he was told that he would have to spend almost year in recovery to heal the broken bones and torn ligaments and muscles. And even then it wasn’t guaranteed that he would ever play again. And even if he recovered and was fit to play again, Rahul knew for sure that he wouldn’t be selected again. Because the hard work required would be that of magnanimous proportions. All his dreams had come shattering down in a single instant.
Life was cruel. After all that hard work over the years, his moment was taken away from him by God. If there ever was one.He found it hard not to feel sorry for himself. He spent the entire day sulking refusing to meet anyone. Sometimes days would pass at a stretch without him even talking to his parents because he felt there was nothing for him to converse with them. His broken body told its tale for him. Nobody from the cricket board nor the present Indian team asked about him after a few initial days. The only contact he made with the outside world was when his teammates from that fateful night paid him a visit but that only brought back the painful memories. He had lost his career but his friend had lost his life.
As the tournament progressed Rahul became more aloof. He spent the day smoking. He had lost all his fitness because he couldn’t exercise nor did he help the matters by taking care of himself. Slowly he began drinking. Another habit that temporarily seemed to soothe him only to make things worse once the hangover set in.
One day he received a phone call. He refused to answer it. When his mother told him that his coach from schooling days was on the line he jumped and grabbed the receiver. His school coach, Ramkanth Manjrekar was the one who had shaped his career. Taken him to different tournaments and refined his technique. If there was anyone whom he attributed his success to it was his coach.
He excitedly picked the receiver and said “Coach sir, I’m so glad you called.”
“How are you doing Rahul?” His coach asked him cooly. He was never the one to betray his emotions.
“Not good at all” replied Rahul his voice quivering
If there was anyone who could lift his spirits in such times, it was Ramakanth sir.
“Ofcourse you are not feeling good. You suffered a near fatal crash. You are injured. You probably won’t ever play cricket again, let alone for he country. You are into substance abuse. You have reached rock bottom Rahul. Nobody can help you” said his coach harshly.
Rahul was flabbergasted. Listening to those words was like driving a knife through his gut and twisting it till the entrails came pouring out. He cried dropping the reciever.
Authors Note: I am taking part in The Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge.