By Hridhima Tyagi, Contributing Writer
Tears trickled down Eva’s cheeks, blurring her eyesight. She dragged herself drearily home, not wanting to face whatever might happen next. She looked up and for once wished that she was one of those birds flying overhead who had no tensions in life. And no rubbish exams. And no scary results.
Eva at once recognised the smooth lady-like voice belonging to the topper of her class. She stopped in her tracks and looked behind. Irene, as usual, had her nose buried in a book. Her eyes were shining. Eva understood that Irene once again had excelled in the semester. She thought about her own result and fearfully hid it behind her back. But she couldn’t hide her tears.
Irene, at once, flew into a panic, “Oh My God, Eva! Why are you crying? I know, must be your result. Come on. Show it to me,” Irene ordered.
Eva reluctantly handed her the crumpled and partially damp paper. Sometimes she wished her best friend was a normal person and not a genius, so that it would not be humiliating every time she showed her the report card.
But at the same time, it was only Irene in the whole world who understood her perfectly. And her passion for football.
“It is not so bad,” Irene said, optimistically.
“It is, Irene. The truth is, I am only barely passing every subject. Even in English! My father will ground me for life,” Eva screamed. “Why can’t I be as good as you, Irene?”
Seeing Eva’s desperation, Irene gently replied, “Well, I am not as good as you in football, am I? You have a God-given gift, Eva. You play better than everyone else in the whole 8th grade. Even better than the boys.”
“I wish someone could explain that to my father,” Eve said tearfully. She started walking towards her house, while wishing the road would never end.
Irene thought it was best to leave her alone for now. She prayed to God to perform a miracle and remove all obstacles out of Eva’s life. She didn’t deserve to have things so bad, after all.
What Irene didn’t know was that it did not require a miracle, but a lesson, to finish all problems.
What Eva had imagined was exactly what happened in the house. Her parents, as usual, shouted at her, and her father banned her from participating in her two–hour football practice. “Boys play football. Girls are not meant for it. Concentrate on your studies,” her father said. “You are grounded for TWO months. NO extra practices, NO hang–outs and absolutely NO parties.”
That night, while Eva lay in bed, she could not bear the thought of separation from football for two whole months. She decided to wake up early in the morning to practice in the park. When the world was sleeping, she would improve her passion.
Starting the next day, Eva set her alarm at 4 o’ clock in the morning, and worked hard every day. She used to practice so hard that she would sleep in school, and could not put up with the constant scolding of teachers, while at the same time bitter words of her parents in the house. Sometimes she wanted to run away, but Irene had always told her to face her problems and not run from them. Eva could not keep her eyes open later than ten at night and her parents were amazed at her altered sleeping patterns.
When her teachers became troubled by her careless behaviour, they called her parents and talked to them about her sleepy condition, and that’s when it popped into her father’s mind that she was up to something. That night her father did not sleep. He kept watch on her and was baffled to see her alarm ringing at 4 in the morning. He followed her to the park, and watched her practice rigorously.
So that’s where all her sleep was going, he thought to himself. Now I will teach her a lesson.
When Eva went to school that day, a poster caught her eye. It was about an inter–school football competition in a month and the selections for the team were in ten days. Eva knew this was the only chance to prove to everyone who made fun of her and her passion. She decided there and then to increase her practicing time.
But it was not so easy. The next day when Eva woke up, she found her football missing. While she frantically searched for it, her father, holding her football, smiled wickedly from his room. When his wife asked him the reason, he replied, “Its only for her good. She’s a girl, and girls don’t play football.”
But her father did not know that nothing can stop a passionate person. Eva got to work with rubber and cloth, and within no time she had made a rough football, and marched smiling to the park. She knew who was behind all this, but she did not let it come in between her path.
As expected, this was not the end of her problems. Her father disabled her alarm, but thanks to Eva’s biological clock, she did not miss her practice. The selections were nearing, and Eva totally ignored everything but football. Sometimes, she would even forget to eat. But one incident changed everything. Eva’s father hid her football shoes, and so Eva went to practice without them. She came back to the house with bleeding and red feet, due to the stony and rough terrain of the ground.
Eva’s father was taken aback. He now understood what football meant to her. That night, he put all Eva’s things back into place. In the morning, he watched her practice, and he felt proud of her. She played really well.
Eva spotted her father and smiled. “Good morning, father,” she said running to him.
“Eva, I… I am sorry,” he said.
“But why father?” Eva asked.
“Eva, I did everything I could to stop you. I hurt you so much. I am sorry. But now I understand your love for football, and I will fully support you in whatever you do. And I mean it. Promise me you’ll try your best in the competition.”
Eva laughed and promised her father that she will achieve her dream, and make him very proud.
From that day on, Eva’s father himself made her practice, both in the morning and evening. Eva’s energy and passion doubled up, and in a few days, she was no less than perfect. Finally, the big day came, and Eva, aflutter, got ready early in the morning. She, with her father, reached the school half an hour before time. But they were amazed to see so large a crowd gathered at this time too. All boys.
When Eva stood in line, all the boys laughed at her. “Hey girl, go and gossip. That’s your work.” “You’re not meant for football.” “Don’t cry when you get hurt,” were the comments.
Eva ignored everyone. She walked and took her position. The whistle blew. Every boy pushed Eva behind and ran for the ball. No matter how hard Eva tried, nobody would pass her the ball, and she would just run behind them desperately. In the first half itself, her team was behind by 5 points. Then Eva decided to take charge. She drank some water and then the break ended. In the second half, she took the ball under her control. Gradually she brought some team spirit into everyone, and a bit of extra energy. Every one of her team did what she told them. She played fantastically, and she alone kicked four goals, and stopped two. Her team won the match, and she, along with her team, was selected for the competition. All the boys cheered for her, and carried her on their shoulders. Even the boys from the opposite team came to appreciate her. They apologized to her for their behaviour, and promised her never to judge anyone by their gender.
While going back home, Eva’s father said, “Eva, I am so proud of you. You have changed everyone’s thinking, and you never left your passion. I am happy that you followed your heart, and this will be a new beginning for all of us. I know you will become a great footballer one day, and I will give you all the support and help you need.”
“Thank you, father,” Eva replied, extremely happy. “I am glad you understood my passion, my dream, and I know you will fully support me. Thank you so much.”
With a lot of hard work and practice, Eva’s team won the competition with Eva as the best player of the match. Her father smiled at her victory, and had a feeling that this was the first, but not the last one.
We all have an Eva within ourselves. We all have a dream. We just need to follow our heart, and it will be a new beginning in our lives, a beginning of the path which leads to our destination. No matter what problems might come, we must not deviate.
Maybe you can begin your new beginning starting in the new year which is just round the corner, and is the perfect time to make yourselves new, make new resolutions and achieve your dreams.