Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Squash with Vijay - Day 2

Day 2:
(Previous night) Me: So we'll play squash tomorrow, right?
Vijay: (Grunts)
Me (all enthu): I'll set my alarm and wake you up.
Vijay: (Grunts)
(Morning) I roll out of bed with great difficulty and find Vijay has disappeared. He's out in the drawing room playing on his phone.
Me: Up already?
Vijay (looks up bleary-eyed): Couldn't sleep from four thirty a.m.
Me: Wow, you were really looking forward to the game, huh?
I run about getting ready and head over to the balcony and fetch the rackets: Let's go!
Vijay (glancing over for a millisecond): You've got out the tennis rackets. The squash ones are the longish ones, yaar.
Me (indignant, already running back to do the switch): As if I didn't know that! You think I'm a fool or something?
On the way to the court, Vijay complains about a backache and staggers along as I bounce all the way.
I pause for a moment, concerned: Are you sure you're up to playing today, honey?
(Inner voice: I'm going to WIN today)
Indeed, it looks like today Vijay is hardly on top of his game. His shots don't have their usual sting and he's slower to return mine. I place the ball cleverly towards the front of the court, causing him to stumble and miss as he reaches out.
I must be getting better, I muse. Sure, maybe the guy's a little tired, but it certainly seems a lot like progress on my part, and...
Vijay (straightening up): Okay. Let's start.
Me ( surprised): Huh? What do you mean, let's START?
Vijay's shots are now like bullets from a gun. They not only sound like gunshots, but just like bullets, the ball is suddenly invisible. I flail about in vain, and then Vijay starts to just smash the ball himself, again and again, murmuring 'Ball garam nahin hui abhi.'
I retreat to a corner and cower there, muttering 'Seemed garam enough to me.'
I can't seem to hit the ball at all now. I run for it and miss. It rolls to a corner. I go pick it up and smash it as hard as I can. It hits the wall only one foot above the ground and rolls towards Vijay's feet.
He eyes me skeptically.
Me (shrugging) I'm a little out of touch.
Things pick up as we play on. I am now able to return some of his shots. I find that it helps to psych myself into playing with more power if I use some sound effects.
'Aaa-uhhhh!' I say as I hit the ball, and proudly explain to Vijay 'That's my Monica-Seles.'
He leans forward to return the shot, but the ball bounces twice before he can get to it.
'Hyaaah!' I pump my first and then add 'That's my Marina.'
'Got any others?' He grunts.
'No.' I admit.
We start the game and within no time, the score is seven-love. No prizes for guessing who's winning.
'You're playing too hard.' I complain, panting.
'Arrey, make me run around, na.' He says. 'You're the one giving me all these Lallu shots!'
'LALLU?' I grit my teeth. This is an insult. He's gone too far now.
I brace myself in a PV-Sindhu type stance, never mind that it's a different game. The ball comes right towards me and I lunge, pivot, swing and SMASH.
It bounces lightly against the wall and arrives obligingly right in front of Vijay, who obliterates it and me in the same stroke.
I see what he means by Lallu.
'Alright then!' I bark. 'Is that how you want it? Wanna play with me? Wanna PLAY with me? HUH? WANNA PLAY WITH ME?'
Vijay's lips twitch just slightly but he ignores me, managing to refrain from responding with the truth.
Fine. F****. B******d. I mentally use the cuss words I know to work myself up into a frenzy. Bloody. Damn. F*** the bloody F******. I hit the ball with all my might, but it glances off the edge of my racket and heads straight for Vijay's head.
'Ooooh,' I wail, and flap towards him 'Did you get hurt, honey?'
The games do not go well. For me. Vijay wins both of them, with me unable to score a single point.
'Let's work on your backhand.' He suggests.
'What's the point?' I sigh.
'No, no.' he says encouragingly. 'You played well, today.'
I perk up, willing to believe anything at this point. 'You think I'm getting better?'
'Of course.' He scoffs without missing a beat. 'Couldn't be worse than the first day.'
'This is the stance.' He demonstrates, standing behind me. 'Your leg a little in front. No like that. Now grip it like so. And then, hit it like that.'
'You know.' I remark chattily, cosily ensconced within his larger frame, holding the same stance. 'In that Ed Sheeran Video of Shape Of You, Ed Sheeran teaches that girl a boxing stance in the same way. It's kind of cute. You seen that? We're just like Ed Sheeran and that girl...'
Vijay, hastily. 'Okay, so now, SMASH!'
Not seeing much success with my backhands, Vijay tries to encourage me 'Now see here...it's like ...you're maaroing a thappad! Come on, you can do that! No one's better at maaroing thappad....maaro, yaar!! What are you DOING?'
The phone alarm rings and I say happily. 'Time up. I'm going!' I take my racket and run away from the court.
'I'll just play a few knocks.' Vijay calls. When I see him from the ledge above the court, he's moving around at a dizzying pace, serving himself impossible shots, diving to pick them up in impossible returns, and all in all, taunting me with his grace and style and power. All trace of tiredness and backaches seem to have disappeared from him, although I realize that they may have just passed on to me. The words that strike me as I look at him are Lithe Lion.
I turn wearily to take my Loser Lallu self back home.
Tomorrow's another day, though.

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