Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Enemy (Micro fiction 2)

It is not visible to the naked eye but there is a furious amount of self-talk going on inside golfing heads just before a tournament. Behind the bonhomie and all the cheerful exclamations over the lovely weather, there are these inaudible voices in the air, “Oh no, we are teeing off from the first one, I better not mess this up, there is too large an audience!” Another voice will whittle away, “Inhale, exhale…just one shot at a time, remain focused on your own game; don’t fret over your cheating buddy!” And, “Silence is golden on the course, ration the words and for heaven’s sake, don’t lose your cool with your caddy.”

It was the inaugural Coast Guard Golf Cup and the players were going about their business at a civilized pace. Nidhi watched Tara busy herself with photo sessions. A stunning woman in her thick auburn mane, Tara had the height and that great eye to hand coordination of a good golfer but more often than not, she struggled to convert her talent into winning scores. Her apologetic air and under confident shots spoke of a diffident and divided mind. The other women golfers were used to seeing Tara hurry and skip after her long suffering caddy chanting, “I am sorry Mahesh! I don’t know what is happening. I usually don’t play this badly!”

A stoic player by contrast, Nidhi was averse to playing with women
for this one reason; they wanted too great an emotional management from outside. It irked her when lady players tried to play down a brilliant shot with a quick reassurance to the rest that it was just a fluke! She couldn’t stand the self-berating and regular guilt trips that routinely unfolded on the course. And woes betide anyone who chattered too much during a tournament. “No histrionics please,” the other women were used to her forthright manner, “let’s get on with the game, shall we?!”

The goody bags were being handed out. Their four ball made a beeline for the washrooms in order to change into their spanking new T-shirts. “I love the shoe bag, and look at this sleeve of balls. So glad I took up this game. To think I had nothing but contempt for this game once upon a time and not too long ago!” The women chatted easily and exclaimed over the colour combinations of their golf attire and whether the caps matched the rest of the ensemble. “I have not played in days Nidhi but you have been practising regularly!” Tara complained. “I just hope I don’t mess up my chipping today. You have so much more tournament experience than me.”

Nidhi fought her annoyance at this emotional encroachment on her presumed magnanimity. Genteel courtesy now demanded that she bolster Tara with, “Oh no, I am as moody and unpredictable with my shots. Don’t worry! My short game is equally temperamental and about the fairway, have you not seen me in the rough skulking under the bushes for that ball of mine? Relax. You will play fine.” Nidhi kept silent instead, taking a step back from the usual, pre-tournament drama.

As they emerged from the Golf Hut, they heard crisp metallic sounds from the Men’s tee. It was their turn soon enough. Nidhi drove her ball into a spectacular flight; it seemed to sail along the white marker for the straightest drive. There was peace for a while as the foursome worked their way through the front eight holes, building their scores in relative silence, Nidhi refusing to be distracted with self-recriminating debris from Tara. She would not acknowledge the missed shots, the penalties or the sand skill with anything other than a poker face. At one point Tara stunned everyone with the longest yet driver shot, it went tearing towards the green to some 200 yards. Nidhi applauded but retreated immediately.

Nidhi’s caddie was placing her T when she heard Tara mutter under
her breath, “My three wood is giving me heart burn. Last time we played on this course, I lost two balls in the water. And three holes here have super high trees overlooking the greens.” Nidhi pulled her glove off and stepped back from addressing her ball. She tugged at Tara and gently pulled her under the shade of the small tree close by. “Look into my eyes Tara. There are so many ups and downs while playing golf, it can drive anyone crazy with emotion. But I am telling you, each one of us here is autonomous and the responsibility is highly individual and personal. The challenges are not out there on the course. Your tallest Everest is in your mind! Quieten those thoughts. Let’s just mind our own minds! Play, shall we?"

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