Before I blow the whistle on those in power that should have and could have and must indeed be doing what they haven’t,
I have to write and fully accept as I do,
That development, reform and maintenance are not processes effected merely by public institutions or governments – they demand individual, civilian responsibility and effort.
And whether one lives in a bustling metro or a remote village, achieving real change requires the participation of people across generations, class, caste and religious lines.

In a country as large, vast and diverse as ours – geographically, economically and demographically – Everyone has a role to play.
A duty to show up to.
A leaking faucet to fix in the middle of nowhere (or better still, have water supplied to a dry one),
A tree to plant where it may be – a quality of life to raise, a standard of living to better, a means of livelihood to effect, in essence,
Placing us one step closer to a level playing field, despite those differences in geography, economics and demographics.

A field is what we need. And levelling it is unironically, our biggest challenge!

As an athlete practicing sports that are best categorized as ABC (a sardonic Indian abbreviation conceived by those who play Anything-But-Cricket), the lower than plebeian treatment meted out to ABC sports is not lost on me. We are the lesser mortals, the less preferred children, the number ‘two’s and ‘three’s and ‘not-even-on-the-list’s games and events that incidentally require as much urgency and attention as hungry children.

For these sports are visibly starved of infrastructure, popularity and recognition.

The dream in Dhasa this time round is a playing field for the children who reside here and in the neighbouring villages.
A designated place for them to hone their skills in team games and develop a solid sports culture that will set them up for any and every way they decide to go in life.

Upon arriving here, that dream looked like a mirage.
The ground was a mess – far from the evenness of farmland even.
Athletes are pretty prone to battling – bruises, broken bones and battered bodies. But this was war.
The entire village machinery moved to bring one machine – a JCB Tractor – to come and do its thing.
And with the blessings and bounce of every football or handball or volleyball that will ever be thrown or kicked around on this field, the blessed vehicle shall continue to do its thing.

The dream saw that machines and manpower don’t come easy. They often won’t unless you sound as desperate as that hungry child.
The dream has also seen that child’s play isn’t in fact child’s play. It takes a whole village, a battalion of athletes in their own right, to go to war for it.

The dream is a fight.
At least we’ve got one procedure right.

In a safely guarded store of visions, I’m seeing these children float over this field in a not so distant future.
Their skills on par with those that have always had the ground beneath their feet.
Because, in a country so big, not having a level playing field is also our biggest inadequacy.



(This piece belongs to a series titled, “The Rural Dispatch”, on the network.)



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