“How are you doing today Mr. Samuel?” I asked an acquaintance the other day.
“Great! Germany defeated South Korea in the semi final. Trust me final is going to be awesome.” He replied.
Isn’t it great? You don’t have to waste time watching news channels to get the updates. Ask anything to anybody on the street and you will find out world cup updates appended to the original answer.
My 14 year old Son Dylan has also joined this club and was exceptionally enthusiastic while he watched the final match between Germany and Brazil on the TV. I have never seen him this excited about anything before. The world cup of 2002 has somehow managed to aggrandize his interest in football.
“Have you done your homework Dylan?”
“No Mom. See Ronaldo is heading for his second goal.” Like I said, no matter what is the question you always get the updates.
The Second goal from Ronaldo filled the crowd that gathered at the International stadium of Yokohama, with an unimaginable exuberance. Enormous applaud in response appeared loud enough to be heard from miles away.
Ronaldo’s scores led Brazil into victory. When the Brazilian team captain Cafu held the golden cup high up in the air, some 2.7 million paper cranes flew down from the sky. Dylan was running all over in the house with his arms wide spread in imitation of some flying bird. When tired with his crusade of happiness display he finally comes to me in the kitchen and said
“Mother, I want to play football. I want to play it like Ronaldo.”
This was not the first time when he was sharing his childish dreams with me.
“But last month you wanted to be a doctor like Miss Lauane?”
“I was wrong; I want to be a football player. I am sure this time.” He replied in irritation and went out of the kitchen.
Kids don’t like it when you question their decisions. They Just can’t accept that their parents can be smarter than them.
The next day when he got back from school, he was carrying a few posters of Ronaldo with him. Next hour of his day was completely utilized in lodging those posters in the best possible places on the walls of his room.
Whenever I visited his room after that, I found him staring at those posters. This really got me concerned for his developing sexual orientation.
Dylan’s inclination towards football kept on increasing with time. He brought a new football for himself the other month.
“From where did you get the money?” I asked
“I saved it from my pocket money” he replied while his nose went up in pride.
I am a single mother with income just enough to pay the monthly bills. This was really surprising for me that Dylan sacrificed his daily ice cream for his newly developed passion. On top of it he decided not to bother his overburdened mother and took matters into his own hands.
I too felt proud of him.
Dylan was kind of loner. Initially he started playing alone in our courtyard but soon I had to force him out because of increasing complaints of broken windows from the neighbors.
A couple of weeks later I heard that he has been playing football with a couple of his brand-new friends in a barren land outside the city. The neighborhood was not safe and I got a little skeptical of his new friends.
He came back very late one evening.
“What are you up to Dylan. What have you been doing with those slum boys?” I asked in anger pulling his hand forcefully towards me.
“I have been playing football mom, what’s wrong in that.” He replied in agitation
“They are not good company son; you should immediately stop hanging out with them.” I ordered him.
“Why don’t you enroll me in to some football training school then? I know you can’t do that with your pathetic earning. So Just let me do it my way.” he replied in anger and rushed towards his room.
“What is so important with this football thing? Why can’t you just focus on your studies?” I shouted. Humiliation by own son has pinched me hard.
“I want to play for Brazil one day ” He replied in a voice equally high in pitch and smashed the door of his room from inside.
The path to his dream was being hurdled because of my incapability. I felt guilty of not being a good mother, the only thing which I always wanted to do right.
Next day, I visited all the training schools in the town but the fees were too high for me to bear. I felt helpless. I decided to get an additional job. Till I don’t have the money, I had no choice but to let Dylan find his own ways.
Weeks passed, I didn’t get any additional jobs but I started working extra hours so that I could save for his training school fee. In a few months I would have easily made it but life had different plans for us.
One evening Dylan got into a fight with those Slum boys and the old friends congregated to teach odd man out a lesson. They broke one of his legs and along with that few deep injuries were visible on different parts of his body. I lodged a police complaint but nothing happened. Those boys somehow got invisible as if they never existed.
My son remained unconscious for next two days. I kept praying to god for his recovery.
“They shouldn’t have broken my leg. You never do that to a football player.” This was the first sentence which came out of his mouth as soon as he regained his senses.
“Don’t worry, it will get better.” I hugged him
Hospital bills further burdened me with huge debts. Enrolling him for football training did not appear possible for me in the near future.
His left leg remained plastered for around a month .During his ‘plastered leg’ period he remained confined to his room and that too staring at the poster of his role model most of the times. Once the plaster was removed he became restless. Doctor has restricted him from giving any kind of exertion on that leg for another six months. His itch for playing football was driving him nuts. Soon he found out a way to get rid of his tingling. Dylan started visiting a famous football club after school. He was not allowed in there but he used to watch those highly skilled players getting trained from outside the ground.
His too much talks about football at the school might have attracted like minded students. By the end of fourth month there were dozens of students from his school who started to give him company during his visit to the football club.
“Mom, I need some money.” Dylan asked as soon as I opened the door for him.
“What for?” I asked in bewilderment.
“We are planning to turn that barren land outside our town into a playground.” He replied with excitement.
“Who are ‘We’ here?” I got scared with the reminder of what happened to him on that ground.
“Me and a few of my friends from the school.” hinted of my fear he tried assuring me.
“You can’t do that honey, that is government property” I tried to usher him to practicality.
“So what? We are not going for forceful possession of that property. We are just turning it into something useful and in return we will use it for a couple of hours every day.”
I could have debated more but seeing him this happy was convincing enough for me to let practicality go to hell.
The boys started their project playground from the very next day. They did most of the work themselves but whenever required they also hired resources using collected money.
Their efforts were not going unnoticed as soon many people from proximity started helping them in all possible ways. In no time their project playground became mission for that whole underdeveloped locality of the town. The playground was ready in one month and in the process my 15 year old son has earned a lot of popularity for his name.
That playground became second home for that team of 16 boys including Dylan. They still use to visit outside of football clubs to learn the training methods and implemented those tricks by themselves in their own created playground. When poverty limited them from hiring a coach they replied on its face by saying “we don’t need one, we can self train ourselves”.
Time was with wings and one year passed in no time. During last one year, inspired by Dylan and team, many such teams were formed in different localities of the town. That playground became their place to compete. I got a chance to watch Dylan play couple of times and I must say he has trained himself quite well.
All these teams were small unorganized groups of underprivileged kids.Being and playing there was not leading Dylan towards his dream. He wanted to get in to the system
“I want to create a football team for my School mother” He revealed his future plans to me one evening.
“But your school is a low budget school Dylan; they only focus on academics’. I don’t think they are up for supporting any sports team for the school” I worded my worries.
“I know mother but this is possible. Our team has become quite popular in the school. I think we can convince the management. I am giving the school an opportunity to get popular with us, they better not refute it” He replied with a smile and then winked.
Dylan was right the popularity of his team did the trick for them. The Dylan’s school not only opened a sports division but also registered themselves for the inter-School football tournament.
They started training hard for it.
In the qualifying match itself, Dylan scored three goals and led his team to victory. It was complete one man show. The tournament continued for one month and Dylan and his team won 6 out of 7 matches. Although defeated in the finals Dylan has fulfilled his promise of creating name not only for himself but for his school as well.
Based on his performance he got scholarship offers from some very good colleges of Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Dylan was heading for bigger platforms.
It was his last match for the school. He was well ahead of his nearest opponent. Entire crowd stood up in excitement. The goal was inevitable.
It felt really good when I heard the crowd cheering aloud my son’s name. Just before the final shot towards the goal, something happened. Dylan left the ball and sat down in the field with his both hands pushing against his forehead and a few seconds later he lost his senses.
“Dylan has a tumor in his brain. He does not have much time left. It is hardly a matter of two three months.” Doctors declared after examining him.
I was in real shock.
“But doctor, He has never informed me of any pain or something” I was barely able to speak.
“He might have been ignoring it mam. It’s too late now. I am really sorry.” I sat there on the floor trying hard to accept the devastating news.
It was two and half months later. We were at the hospital. Dylan was all pinned up with different medical instrument throughout his body. I was sitting right beside him watching him sleep.
He opens up his eyes and looking directly into my eyes spoke out in a very weak voice ” I would have done it mother.”
I turned my face away from him to hide my tears and replied “I know son, you definitely have” . Once my tears were under control I turned towards him
His eyes were wide open. He was gone. My son was dead.
I was in his room, staring at his belongings in desire to feel his virtual closeness. I started searching for anything that could make me feel his presence. There was a diary in his drawer. As I turned the first page, his intentions were boldly written over there in his own handwriting
“Winners never quit and quitters never win” .
There is only one basic mantra behind any great success
“Find out your passion and stick to it no matter what…”