I have been trying to compose this letter since last evening and it’s almost bright outside as the sun makes her way into my single room apartment from behind the clouds and in between the old curtains. I have, all this while, sat in quiet contemplation of what awaits ahead.
Hello, I am Stanley and I am a cripple for the last one year.
You, dear football, have always been known to be a thorough romantic and hence you must be aware today is Valentine’s Day; once every year, far too frequent for your liking one would imagine. You would rather want it once in four years, like World Cup tournaments, but sadly the world fails to comprehend what goes on inside your funny round head.
I have been waiting for an eternity it appears now, to write this letter and acquaint you of how you have been so cruel to me. And ironically, today seemed like a perfect day, almost.
As I sit on my chair, which despite being inanimate has been very obliging, looking blankly at the glorious red jersey hanging on the wall that has now turned almost black collecting dust over the last one year, my days as the most promising football talent in the region comes back to my mind. My coach, Mr. Fernandes, believed I could play for my country one day if I stayed loyal to the game I loved since as far as my memory goes back. I was loyal, you chose not to be.
With almost every national selector watching from the stands, I glided past every opposition defender with beguiled ease before lobbing you over the goalkeeper. The crowd erupted with joy and I turned around towards the VIP arena only to find that my parents were not present, still upset from my staunch refusal to study beyond matriculation. Lisa, my childhood love and someone my grandmom wanted me to get married to, was not there among the crowd as well and not surprisingly so. We had a fight over our future and priorities and I decided to shove her away to realize my dream of wearing the coveted blues of my country.
But then I saw you being closely controlled by the opposition and all the disappointment of not having the people who mattered around, evaporated into thin air. I wanted you back, right then. But that is when, tragedy struck. As I rose high to contest an aerial duel, I landed awefully on my right leg letting out a wild shriek of agony which reverberated around the stadium and beyond. As I lay still on the ground, everything around me seemed to fade out gradually.
I suffered multiple tibial fractures and the doctor dismissed any chances of me playing the game again. Mr. Fernandes offered me a consulting position in his academy and since then I have taken refuge in this lonesome apartment, just beside the 80m x 105m amazingly beautiful playground far away from the city.
Dear football, I write you this letter not to instill a sense of guilt within you but to highlight whatever you have meant to me and many more Stanleys all over. I am eighteen now and I move around in a wheelchair but the amount of joy that I get everytime I see young fellows like me kick you around gracefully, almost endearingly makes me happy inside.
For all the money and agents that have filtered into the game, you must have been afraid of the romance dying from the sport. No, it won’t. You will always be my Valentine, and to many more.