Sunday, March 20, 2016

EMBRACING THE TREE





Image courtesy.: Internet (InDeed Campaign for Nature)

After the Ind-Pak T-20 (World Cup) match got over, last night – close to midnight – I heard, all around our residential area, frantic beats of drums and incessant victory-chants – ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’… ‘Vande Mataram’. It was electrifying and it went on for quite some time…

India had won the contest against their arch-rivals, Pakistan… The venue was Eden Gardens of Kolkata!

When India lost its first three wickets, my mind went back to 1996 World Cup Semifinals (50 over). It was the same venue, and it was the same month (13th March)… Twenty years ago, India’s captain Azaruddin  had won the toss and opted to field. Last night, Dhoni, too, had done the same thing… Sri Lanka had posted a target of 252 to win for India… and, India had suddenly begun to collapse like a pack of cards! The crowd at Eden Gardens couldn’t swallow this sorry plight and had turned angry, violent… and had gone berserk by throwing every kind of filth and abuse into the ground and, yes, it had set the stadium ablaze, too!

“What if we lose the same way, tonight?” I wondered last night, “Will the Kolkata crowd take the defeat gracefully?”

I asked the same question to myself when I was soaking in the frenzy of victory drum-beats and ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’ chants… Yes, I asked: “What if we had lost tonight? Would people still chant ‘Bharat Mata Ki Jai’? Or, would they hurl abuses the way they had in 1996?”

Mercifully, we had won!

The more I think about it, the more convinced I become, that, when we learn to take our defeat gracefully, in a dignified manner… When we genuinely compliment and praise our opponents on their victory, we emerge as true winners. To me, when the members of the two teams line up and shake hands the moment the match is over… yes, to me, it is the most poignant moment of the entire contest… Not holding aloft the trophy… Not even the victory lap… What melts my heart is when I see Virat Kohli giving away his coveted bat, after the match, to his ardent fan from the Pakistani team – the dynamic pace-bowler Amir… When Afridi rushes forward to shake hands with Kohli before the contest… Such moments are plenty in football and basketball, too… I go silent when I see a Ronaldino or Messy take away their jersey in honor of one of their fierce opponents…

Those are, to me, the true moments of sports… the goose bumps moments!


Today is Sunday. I had been for my Tai Chi class in the morning. Understandably, the last night’s match dominated our conversation, there, too… When our teacher guided us through a very simple, yet powerful meditative exercise called ‘Embracing the tree’, my mind became strikingly aware of the two energy-fields – earth and the sky… I was embracing the tree… I felt the roots running deep into the Mother Earth… I felt the leaves inviting me into the heavens…

I could touch my pride, the arrogance… and I could touch, with equal dignity, my fallible self… 

Victory was complete only when I could embrace the ‘Tree’ fully, with all my openness.


GERALD D’CUNHA


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