The men plan during weekdays with great enthusiasm on the strategies to attack while meeting with the opponents. And on weekends the men mostly land up defending more than attacking the other half. It is understandable to lose in the game of football. But win or lose, it brings us together week in and week out analysing from the fading memories against the emptying bottles.
The team we are in is called as the Highlanders, not that we have the Brokpa ingenuity but is just as old as the invention of Highland Whiskey. The decade old Highlanders could have progressed far better in the pitch if the likes of Highland whiskeys have not been the companions every weekend. By the time bottle took shelves in the bars and restaurants, the scotch had already begun running in our systems and reached the heights to become the team’s name.
Although many interesting as well as weird things happen when we meet off and on the pitch, the recent happening was right after the arrival of our jerseys from the United States. All of us hurried off to Bhutan Post right after the match. We collected the parcel from the counter and took few steps before each one of us decided to open it. And thus, we sat on the plinth-protection of Bhutan Post taking out the highly priced shirts, shorts and socks. Few customers of BNB and Bhutan Post mistook us as the street vendors and started to flock around us. They left us apologising but many thought we could have profited by few hundreds more.
“I like the color,” commented Python seeing the dark blue jerseys.
“It will look nice on you,” Gangchap replied. He continued, “Anything dark in color should match your skin.”
“Witch and Demand will look outstanding then,” Python said.
“So will be Dophu and Zhazha,” Gangchap said.
“Everyone will look nice,” Zhazha giggled.
“The color is perfect, imperfect is our skin,” Namguy declared. Witch overheard the conversation and before he realised the teammates would comment on him, he said, “Thanks to the sunburn.” Everyone concentrated on trying out the shirts and shorts leaving the blame on to the sun.
“We should print our names,” Thar said.
“Yes, we should,” Pele joined in.
“We don’t call by names in the ground,” Dophu reasoned out. “We should print what we are called by.”
“I don’t think that is a nice idea,” Sexy said.
“Me neither,” Python, Witch and Demand replied almost together.
“I will go with the majority,” Namguy said feeling comfortable not having a nick. (That does not guarantee in the future)
“I second Namguy,” Tobs said laughing.
Then, Witch did not find it right. He said it would not be nice to have those names on our backs and said he had the better idea. We listened what he had to say. He started with the technical speech.
“It is the 4-4-2 formation and we should pair up with the names,” he lectured.
“What are we going to print?” Python asked.
“We print the names of our girlfriends,” Pele exclaimed excited. No one showed interest in his proposal and that was understandable. Witch instantly looked sad reminiscing how did not have girlfriend throughout his life. Pele, with lots of hope looked at Thar but met with the saddened eyes. Dophu looked lost, the expression clearly stating if only the names of our wives could go to print.
The names of the girls didn’t reach our backs. Pele was disappointed but felt pity on us. He said, “Sorry guys, teamwork does not come in getting the girls.” Someone had hit him hard on his bum. It was Namguy. If it was done out of jealousy, I wanted to hit Pele too but then so would anyone.
Witch scratched his head and exclaimed, “Terrorists”. Everyone looked at him like he was the terrorist. “How about writing the terrorists’ names?” The idea was intriguing that attracted our immediate attention.
“I am in,” I said thinking on the terrorist option than letting people know I did not have a girlfriend.
“Interesting.” It was Thar. He wanted to choose being terrorist too.
“It will be in accordance to 4-4-2 formation,” Witch skewed.
“How is that?” Python asked.
“Very simple - one striker will be Saddam and other will be Hussein,” Witch explained. Sexy and Namguy coughed uncomfortably. They are the strikers. “Two wingers will be Vera and Pan. Two mid fielders will be Osama and Bin Laden and four defenders are shared by Hassan Izz Al Din.”
“I am Vera or Pan. Which one do you want, Demand?” Zhazha, the left winger asked.
“You have the preference,” Demand said without thinking on a choice. “I would be a terrorist in anyways.”
The two wingers however closely associated by the names would make less difference as both of them are at the either ends of the fields. Both have weak legs to change the course of game by passing long balls to either side. When Zhazha struggles with the ball in the left, Demand enjoys watching the struggling Zhazha from the right. It is the similar case when Python or Thar in the mid accidentally slips the ball towards Demand in the right.
“We will do the lucky dip,” Zhazha said and Demand agreed to it. But the disagreement occurred in the mid. Python was adamant on avoiding Bin Laden. He thought Osama was lesser terrorist of the half. Thar thought the same.
The four defenders looked puzzled. No one had heard about Hassan Izz Al Din and it made them difficult to choose.
“Is he a terrorist?” Dophu asked.
“It sounds like ‘Aladin’ to me,” Gangchap replied.
“I don’t like any of the name. And no one is sure if it is the name of the terrorist,” Pele said. “If only you guys are smart enough to have girlfriends.”
“Shut up Pele,” I retorted much to the comfort of other ten men.
Tobs stayed silent throughout. The goalie did not seem to enjoy such names. So far no one was able to come up with a terrorist’s name for him. Perhaps he was unhappy because of it. Python assured to tag him with the famous name.
“Don’t worry mate, I will google out for you.”
“No mate, I don’t find it right. Most of them are deceased,” Tobs said sentimentally.
“Terrorists don’t deserve your commotion,” Python explained.
“I am not sad for them and I won’t ever be. I am not sure if Saddam Hussein was a terrorist.” Tobs explained.
Two strikers Namguy and Sexy suddenly looked active but were uncertain if they were sad not being terrorists.
“And who is Hassan Izz Al Din? Sounds like Kamal Hassan to me,” Gangchap broke out with the humour.
Everyone laughed and it meant Highlanders were not to become terrorists.
Zhazha looked at the group of ladies passing by. He wished the ladies perceived them as the street vendors and came to see the garments. When he saw the ladies avoiding them he thought it was the right decision seeing his friend in the dark blue shirt. Oversized Python was feeling his pot-belly with the skin-tight shirt.
When undersized and thin Pele put on the shirt, everyone knew how much damage Highland had done to the Highlanders. The men dispersed to the printing shop feeling happy on the color but definitely not on the skin-tight fabric that was only going to exaggerate the size of bellies. And dropping out to print the terrorists’ names was felt as the wisest decision taken by everyone.
I was following the eyes of Zhazha admiring the beauties of those long legs disappearing from us when Sexy brought me back, "What are you thinking, Khongtsa?" You seem to be lost, are you writing about it?"
"Writing? On what?" And then I knew what I should be typing on the microsoft word.