Winter had finally come as the shivery servant rushed into the building carelessly stepping on the house dog’s tail on his way up. The dog could have come back to take a chunk of his posterior but they both knew that their master was tensed of late and got cranky when the breakfast was late.
The servant was also wary of the new friend that has been staying with his master over the last few days. The gentleman had looked familiar but unrecognizable at the same time, with the only discernible thing was his unusual overeating. Entering the room with breakfast, Vinod Rai was nowhere to be found but the servant saw the friend sitting on the bed waiting impatiently for him to come.
“Sorry Sir, we couldn’t get the pudding you were asking for. But we have brought you a different one,” the servant was going to apologize but the man snatched the meal.
“Don’t mind him. The sexual harassment allegations and tensions have developed a binge eating disorder in him. He is getting treatment but evidently, they’re yet to work,” said Vinod Rai coming out of the washroom.
All the things came rushing to the servant’s head. Everything was falling into place. The friend was Rahul Johri! He had last seen him a few months back during a party but he was way thinner then. Staring at Johri with disgust for a while, Rai turned to his master, “Sir, I’d brought your regular omelette but Mr Johri gobbled it. Would you want me to get you another one?”
“No, it’s ok. Just leave my tea on the table,” said Rai sitting on his cosy arm-chair as his phone blinked.
“When is the meeting today and where?” a message flashed from Diana Edulji. Things had spiralled out of hands in the last month or so and Rai has been borderline mental as a consequence. To further compound his condition, he couldn’t refuse his friend Rahul when the latter asked for a stay in his abode for a week.
Rai was thinking what to reply and didn’t realize that Johri had already come and stood behind him to see the text. As their eyes met, Johri blurted out, “Don’t meet the woman. She will poison your life, as she has done of Mithali and me, of course. My condition today is because of her!”
Hearing his crib the entire previous night, Rai had realized that if he was to continue it, he might lose his mind enough to find himself getting up next to the dog. He decided to end it for once and all by organizing a meeting where everyone would be present.
Though Rai didn’t reveal it to Johri, he could make it out by the developments that happened over the course of the day. A big sofa and two bean bags were brought into the big room with a long list of dinner items being prepared too. Johri understood Edulji was coming but he didn’t know the other guests.
By 6 pm in the evening, Edulji was sitting on one of the bean bags. The sofa was mostly empty but she opted not to share the same space with Johri.
“It is a mess, Rai. I cannot contemplate our next step forward,” she said in a tensed tone.
Even before Rai could reply, Johri, who was munching on
A furious Edulji started a rant, “How dare you speak to me like that? You leach! It is for people like you that working places are not safe for women. I am warning you
Rai was listening to this speech for the hundredth time and he wanted to calm the situation before it escalated further. But again, before he could say something, Johri spoke up, “I have finally figured out the speech. I think I saw my 17-year-old niece watching a YouTube video where a US college student was blabbering the same. Bloody copycat!”
Rai was scared his colleagues would start fighting again and he quickly intervened, “Rahul, please let me handle this. Please give him some more snacks,” he asked his servant, who was waiting at the door.
With Johri occupied now, Rai continued, “Diana, we’ve to assess the statements both Ramesh and Mithali have made. The skipper has blamed you as well! It was shocking to hear. Why would you indulge in such things?”
“Because she is missing the Ekta Kapoor soaps in all this work pressure,” Johri couldn't stop himself, again. “So, she is making it up by making the Indian women’s team selection a Big Boss reality show. I’m sure there were hidden cameras in Windies. Check once!”
Before Rai and Edulji could react, Mithali Raj and Ramesh Powar entered the room, and everyone was silenced. They weren’t expected by Johri and Edulji. Fearing that Powar would come and sit beside him, Johri quickly took his plate from the table and placed it beside him on the sofa. There was some space left for a normal-sized person, hence Mithali took that spot. Powar, in his attempt to place himself on the bean bag with ultimate sophistication, lost his balance and kind of fell on it making an awkward thud.
Giggling loudly, Johri took another samosa into his mouth. The room was silent for some time now, with everyone looking at Powar from the corner of their eyes as he sat in the softly lit room wearing sunglasses. Both Edulji and Powar wanted some snacks but neither could ask Mithali or Johri out of ego. Rai took a good fifteen minutes to realize that and asked his servant to offer them.
The awkward silence was broken by Rai asking Powar his version of the event first as the former cricketer started, “As I have said before, I couldn’t believe that such a legend of the game would behave selfishly like this. I just…”
Before he could finish, Mithali interrupted, “For the last time Ramesh… This discussion cannot be ‘leaked’. No cameras here! Stop sugarcoating things for once.”
A confused Powar looked here and there trying to make eye contact with Edulji while hiding it from the other three in the room. Seeing that it was not possible, he continued, “I am being framed by the legend of the game. I am terribly disappointed. But, I’m sure I will overcome this obstacle...”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t allowed to finish his sentence this time too, with Johri interrupting, “You are the biggest obstacle of the
Seeing Rai and Edulji staring at him seriously, Johri was quick to defend himself, “This is one of the comments from his twitter post. I ain’t making this up,” he stretched his phone at Rai’s face.
Intervening the non-sense going on in the room, Edulji spoke up, “I have no idea how such an immature man is holding such a high post of Indian cricket. Can we exclude him and discuss the issue at hand?”
To change the course of attack from Johri, Rai said, “We’re in a fix here Diana. The controversy cannot be staved off without taking any extreme step. It is really unfortunate that this happened at a time when India’s women cricket was finally getting some form of exposure in the media.”
“I think there should be an investigation put into place,” spoke up Mithali “It would constitute me, Ramesh and the team manager. And we have to make sure that no one is under any kind of pressure from anyone. I know there are higher officials involved here.”
“Don’t be childish Mithali,” said Edulji and before she could continue Mithali finished the argument off by stating, “I’m not talking to any two-faced snakes in this room, who changes sides like a see-saw, so please…”
Edulji wished she could get up and pluck Mithali’s eyes out but she had to show composure in front of Rai, especially after Tushar Arothe’s allegations of her being a liar and two-faced woman.
She calmly continued, “I agree that elimination from the World Cup was a terrible thing to happen. But, we cannot question the team selection as that would set a bad precedent and everyone from hereon would do the same thing in future. It is normal human behaviour to put the blame on someone or something and I completely agree with Powar, Mithali didn’t look fit for the T20 format,” said Edulji.
Powar, so far, was out of Rai’s vision as his bean bag had gotten behind the sofa. Seeing this as the proper chance to second Edulji’s opinion and gain credibility, Powar attempted to stand up swiftly and deliver a strong defence to his opinions. However, it wasn’t easy and he lost his balance while getting up and fell on Edulji with his shiny sunglass smashing against her cheek and making a deep cut.
“How dare you touch me!?” shouted Edulji as she was being helped by the servant in getting up. The servant kept her bag on the table and bought her a chair to sit. Seeing no one coming forward to help him, Powar picked himself up, knowing that his moment was gone as he found refuge in the recently-vacated Edulji’s bean bag.
“You’re so done! You’ll never get a coaching role even for a school cricket team in India! I’ll see to it!” Edulji blabbered holding an ice-pack on her cheek.
Seeing Johri not reacting to this, Mithali turned to him suspiciously, only to realize that the food was over and Johri looked quite concerned. The discussion was going nowhere and Rai realized it. He had to take a decision but he couldn’t do that with all the other three inside his room. He brought an end to the meeting even before the dinner arrived and asked everyone to leave, but not before giving Mithali a stern warning.
“Miss Mithali. I hope you don’t take the outcome for granted here. Powar will be dealt with because he has been more at fault than you, but if you don’t adapt yourself to the team’s needs, you might not have a patsy next time,” said Rai as he looked outside the window.
Mithali’s glowing face had turned dull as she, Powar and Edulji walked in a queue to exit the room. One of the most fruitless official meetings in history was finally over as everyone left the room except, of course, Johri.
He had finally found something to eat. It wasn’t until half of the bottle was emptied when Edulji realized and screamed, “That is my medicine you’re eating, you moron!” She snatched her purse from Johri and left the room.
DISCLAIMER: The story, all names, characters, and incidents portrayed in this article are fictitious. No identification with actual persons (living or deceased), places, buildings, and products is intended or should be inferred.
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi
Cricket FootBall Kabaddi