It is Easter time!
While the world is celebrating the resurrection of the Saviour I cannot help but reminisce the hullabaloo of a celebration that Easter used to be during school days at my mountainous home-town, the bitter-sweet days that were. Colourful Easter eggs and candies would magically mushroom in the several bakeries across the town. Hymns could be heard while the freshness of spring coloured the world in myriad shades, bright and beautiful, adding to the festivity. Spring showers woke up the erstwhile slumbering valley. Sweet pea shrubs would shed their pink, white and purple petals, and delicate leathery pods would appear in their places. The plum tree in our front yard would be the envy and target of little kids shooting at the unripe plums with their catapults irking my grandmother who raising a storm would chase them away with her thunderous roars!
Easter also meant a much needed holiday from school; savouring every bit spent away from school I would read Enid Blyton in the solitary backyard and watch purple-yellow pansies sway and pink-indigo fuchsias dance merrily in the spring gale while bright golden-orange marigolds attracted bees! It was a blessing to be away from school to reduce the memory of a debacle that Sports’ Day used to be at school, just before every Easter holiday.
I am horrible and clumsiness personified when it comes to any form of sports! I did try my hands and legs at every possible and permissible sports, making quite the fool out of myself! I just could not, and cannot still, coordinate my eyes, my hands, my legs when it came to catching a cricket ball, kicking a football, or snapping at the badminton shuttlecock. Growing up in a cricket loving nation, a soccer loving region, a school that boasted of three playgrounds, and whose soccer team had an entire wall dedicated to their wins, made me the butt of funny-to-everyone-and-vicious-to-me jokes. I was the target of the Physical Education teachers, dreading the periods and the wrath of the teachers in the PE classes. I was clumsy when it came to marching and my pathetic march could shame Mr. Bean’s dance moves! Yet school made it mandatory for the hop, skip, jump, catch, throw! Not that I abhor outdoors. On the contrary I love long walks, I prefer running, and I run with all my might each morning; but throw a ball at me and it will land with a thud while my hands would react just after they miss their target!
The annual sports’ day at school meant a month of severe competition between the houses and high school mandated participation even if you were horrible at it. I would plead, beg and cajole my father who was, surprisingly, eager to see me improve at sports. I had my heart into reading, into painting, into writing and if I did protest, ‘Yes we agree but you are a boy and you must know how to play’ was casually thrown at me. Why? I still argue! I remember how everybody would giggle when I had to bat or field, or when the football landed miles short of where it should have.
As much as I found comfort in the mysterious shelves of the library, or sitting across the field sketching a distant pine tree, I would be forced from the ‘abnormality’ to the normalcy of the field, only to be pushed around, laughed at, and pointed at. Quietly, frustratingly, furtively, I would practise, if only that would make acceptance easy. Acceptance at the field in school, acceptance in the conversations my father would have with my cousins during the revered cricket matches. It hurt being a mute and laughed at spectator whose opinions would seldom matter. I had seen some of my classmates who were equally terrible at sports trying hard, struggling to fit in, if only that would make school easier.
I still cannot fathom why must boys excel at sports? Why must catching a ball, or swinging a bat come naturally to them? Why must they be laughed at for being terrible at sports? It ain’t a weakness that must be picked upon with shrewdness, only making rightful carefree growing up days uncomfortable and miserable for the souls who are meant to be different. Embrace the difference, nurture the strengths, guide them and don’t cloak them in a mass produced opinion. Children regretfully smother and choke, succumbing to the expectations.
It took me years to be comfortable in my own skin, to brush off the laughter when a key that is tossed at me is seldom caught, to claim nonchalantly that I suck at sports, and, were you play the march-past tune, to happily and obediently disobey and let my feet wonder ‘right left right’.
Image Credit : Brian Tucker from Pixabay