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No monsters, only man

by:Harika

A few days ago, I was watching the Tokyo Olympics Swimming 100m finals and I was reminded of an incident that happened at our community’s swimming pool probably 5 or 6 years ago. What happened there transformed and shaped many of my opinions on humankind and I can never look at a swimming pool without being reminded of the mortifying sequence of events I had to witness that one dreadful day and I’m writing this because even to this day, I think of the boy who was there to swim just like me but became the victim of humankind’s nefariousness. 

And this is what took place on that one cathartic day.

As I see it, the swimming pool is an aggregation of not just water but a hundred thousand particles ready to conquer your throat and lungs, submerge you to make you their own: drifting, silent, dead. I stand in it, between the colliding currents that sway my knees, the blue grasping at my waist. A few meters away a man is wading through the thrumming liquid, his greying hair spots on his head, his bloated gut a ship’s hairy bow. Behind him a boy stands, his pale face twisted, black hair in wet, drooping spikes.

“Why did you throw your goggles and cap? What are you going to do now?” demands the man, turning to the boy.

The boy stays silent, or he mutters something unheard.

Either way, the man continues. “Listen to me. Your mother…”, and the man stops roaring with fury but I think what he wanted to continue saying was that ‘your mother is observing and listening, she is right over there: shut up, listen and behave. Your mother is watching, get yourself together and start swimming, with or without your gear.’ The breeze twists the other way or the water enters my ears, either way, I am too shocked by what just happened so I don’t hear what the man says.

Maybe the boy is now weeping silently, silver streams of tears bulging scars on his cheek, for the man erupts, waving his arms, “Why are you crying?”

The most entitled question: why are you crying? Why have you handed me a consequence, after I rammed the cause down your very throat?

The man inhales the wind, and in a sudden exhale it bursts out through his mouth. “Are you crying for sympathy? Pity? Let me tell you, boy,” and this he shouts, “the more you beg for the pity the less of it you have! Who will pity you?”

My shoulders shake. The boy, stunned, stands unmoving, his head bowed, his back bare. One day he will thank his wounds for being invisible.

“Retrieve your goggles. Retrieve your cap.” The man grabs the boy by his head. “I want you to succeed! What are you doing? Crying? I don’t want you to be a loser! Loser, do you hear?” The man’s booming voice bounces off the pool walls and pries into the boy’s ears, my ears, everyone’s ears, the ears of my cousin who spoke back to his father, my mother’s friend whose husband who would return home drunk at 3 am, all these generations and all these lives until the last hearing ear has been deafened. In his rage, the man spoke the language of humanity.

Then, the soft afterword. “This is for your own good,” the man finishes, calmed after an outburst. “Retrieve your gear, let’s swim.”

This is the thing with people: they vow on your life, praise Satan, talk about helping you get your life on track while all they do is ruin it, and then end with a smile, saying, “This is for your own good.” No, this isn’t for their own good. The boy is going to remember this incident for a really long time, probably even for his entire life, and even begin to detest swimming. For all I know, he could’ve been an Olympic swimmer if not for the man scaring him for life. And I think to myself, in a barbaric world where people are dreadfully cold, there’s no one who will do anything for ‘your own good’. That is when I came up with survival rules for the boy and for myself; rule number one, I think to myself and the boy, don’t believe him. Rule number two: hate him but don’t fear him. Rule number three: smile at him, smile and obey, smile and listen and nod, this is your life, you can change it but not now. These are the rules of the game.

While I watched the entire incident unfurl in front of me, I haven’t seen the man showing an ounce of love or empathy towards the boy instead all I could see was the man’s envy, anger, and hatred. 

Envy is a vice. Instead of focusing on your own goals, your goal becomes to throw other people’s goals off the rails, and at the end of the day, you gain nothing but a mischievous satisfaction that you have destroyed someone. 

It has been years since the occurrence of this incident but I can still recall the fear in the boy’s eyes. What was supposed to be a fun day at the pool changed my perception of the world entirely and a swimming pool, to me, was never again just an aggregation of water but a hundred thousand particles of human piss, saliva, snot, and tears, scoldings, quiet rivalries, and violent pledges, gushing into your gasping mouth and open throat. 

You swallow it and they make you their own.

Categories
Environment Sports

The Bad Formula

Author: Abhinav

Formula 1 is among the most famous sports which are broadcasted on television. The adrenaline-pumping rush of the insanely fast overtakes from the outside in a fast corner is what excites most fans. But how eco-friendly is the sport? The modern F1 car uses a 1.6-litre V6 engine which consumes fuel at a rate of approximately 3.5 miles per gallon. All the races on the F1 calendar are 190 miles long which means that every car on the grid uses 54 gallons of fuel at each race and that multiplied by 20 cars on the grid makes it nearly 1100 gallons of high-performance fuel. Added to this, there is a qualifying session and three practice sessions which add to this fuel consumption and air pollution.

In fact, due to the very reason of air pollution, this year’s Emilia Romagna GP at Imola had a two day race weekend instead of the traditional three day weekend. And it is not only the fuel consumption that raises the eyebrows of environmental activists. FIA, the governing body for motorsport in the world, is notoriously known to force F1 tire manufacturers to decrease the life of tires by manipulating its composition to give the race an enthralling edge.

The F1 car chassis contains about 85% of carbon fibre which is neither recyclable nor biodegradable. This is concerning because most of the races involve crashes in which a part of the car has to be replaced and most of the time these “parts” are aero components which are made solely out of carbon fibre.

    But even with these many red flags, Formula 1 has always been evolving and has been doing its best to give back to society. The most recent example being the “Project Pitlane” in which all the UK based F1 teams united in an effort to answer the call for the ever-increasing need for ventilators during the coronavirus pandemic. Even the fuel being used in Formula 1 these days has evolved a lot from the toluene which was being used in the cars in the 80s. Efforts to increase the bio-components in F1 fuel are being made by all the teams on the grid.

Categories
History Sports World

Campeon Del Mundo

Author: Ankit

Gather round comrades, it is now time for a history lesson. I’ve now moved on from writing obscure interpretations of my favorite songs. This is now a trip down memory lane.

At this point, writing articles with the whole divisions of past, present and future has sort of become my signature, *clears throat* style. (I now possess the exaggerated swagger of a black teen). However, this time, in homage to multiple movie-makers I love, I’ll attempt a non-linear storytelling approach.

There’s more than enough boys in the world who refuse to shut up about football and whatnot, so my contribution to reducing that social menace is joining the club, but instead of churning out analyses, I’d like to take this opportunity to share perhaps the most beautiful moment in the history of the sport (in my opinion), a true display of sportsmanship.

Prelude

It is the 17th of July, 1994. The stage is set at the Rose Bowl stadium in Pasadena, California.
A crowd of over 90,000 spectators have assembled to watch the FIFA World Cup Final between two absolutely stellar teams, Italy and Brazil- who were squaring off for the second time, previously being 1970.

The whistle is blown and the ball’s kicked off. After a rather unusual 90 minutes wound up, it was full-time.
Unusual because neither team had scored a goal, for the first time in a World Cup Final (a record that stands to this day).
A decisive penalty shootout followed, upon which the score was 3-2 in Brazil’s favor.

A million Italian hearts were shattered, a million more in Brazil screaming in exaltation.

Brazil had just won their 4th World Cup.

Brazilian skipper Carlos “Dunga” Verri marched out onto the field, propping up a banner supported by his teammates. 

Interlude

20th April 1994, in a friendly exhibition match between Paris Saint-Germain and Brazil (a rare instance of country vs club), Brazilian Formula One racing driver and triple world champion Ayrton Senna is present.

Known for his cut-throat, pedal to the metal, and dauntless driving style, he is at the time the greatest of them all (of all-time, in my humble opinion). 

He kicks off the ball, and post the friendly, proceeds to wish all the players of the Brazilian team good luck for the upcoming tournament, and hoped that both entities would be successful in their pursuit for the Gold.


Postlude

Ten days later, on the 1st of May 1994, Ayrton Senna crashes hard into the concrete barriers at 290km/h on lap 7 of the Imola Grand Prix in Italy, due to a mechanical failure of the steering column.
He is pronounced dead on the scene.  

The nation had just lost its greatest hero, and the world- their favorite racing driver. 

The government declared 3 days of nationwide mourning and millions piled onto the street to watch his funeral and bid him a final goodbye.

It would seem like the only thing that can pacify the gaping void left in the hearts of the Brazilian man would be the world cup trophy to return home. 

Cut back (or is it forward?) to the afternoon of July 17th. 

Dunga proclaims out loud for the world to hear, that the Brazilian team is dedicating this victory to Senna.


The banner reads “Senna… We’ve sped up together. The fourth title is ours”.

Such a befitting end to a travesty of a year, it’s more than just beautiful, it is poetic.

Senna represented Brazil and put it on the world map, being a Formula 1 ace. Both he and the Brazilian team were in pursuit of their 4th World Championship. Only one succeeded.

I think of moments like these, and realize the all-transcending nature of sports.
The greatest displays of humanity are often seen on the playing field.
Now before I get all teary-eyed and mess up this narration by getting preachy, I’ll take your leave.

Until the next time, tchau tchau.