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US Part 1

1st January 2020

Udit’s diary

Tonight, I am sitting by the poolside gazing at the stars, as the memories come flooding back. All the moments when we’d just look into each other’s eyes in complete silence and smile. All the time we spent together felt like we were in a fairytale. I still vividly remember the way she looked the first time I came across her…………………….

5th November 2016

The soccer season at Clover Hills was in full swing. APL had already started and Marc Jibbers Soccer Tournament was just around the corner. Cherry Wood High was organizing it this year. November was indeed the busiest time for any footballer. With both regional and school tournaments going on simultaneously, my week was jam-packed with matches.

Marc Jibbers is one of the most prestigious high school football tournaments in the country. The winning school is treated like royalty and is considered the coolest. It’s a huge deal. Even if you’ve won all tournaments and owned the year if you lose this everything else is useless. It’s like FIFA. Only the best win.

Teams can go to any level to win and the organizing school always has the upper hand. With this in mind, the Sea Wood High team arrives at Cherry Wood. APL matches were almost over and the final would take place a week after this.

As our bus takes a turn, I see the large gates of Cherry Wood approaching. As we approach the grand gates, my heart starts pounding and I get this surge of happiness and excitement. I was pretty confident the Cup was ours this year as well. Sea Wood has an unbeatable soccer team and we have been the Champions for the past 3 years. Now we are back with an even stronger team and ready to take the cup back home!

As our bus enters the campus, I am taken by the awe of the splendor and environment that has been created. The campus had been elaborately done up with banners and posters all over, cheerleading squads and mascots are all around, cheering and having fun.

Teams are arriving and in the background, the band was playing. It feels like we were at a festival celebrating soccer. It was awesome.

As we get down we are greeted first by our cheerleaders and then the volunteers. Each team had been assigned a 4 person squad to look after them throughout. Accommodation, practice and everything else for us is to be looked after by them.

“Hi! I am Tiya Reynolds, the head prefect and this is my team and we will be looking after you guys. This is Valerie, our dance prefect and Alex and Stuart our sports prefects. Anything you need you can contact any of us. We are always available.” A rather friendly girl introduces herself.

“First you guys go register yourself and take your IDs. Then there’s tea for all of you at the lawn. After the tea, you will be assigned your rooms.” A guy called Stuart says.

“Sounds good. Nice to meet you guys. You guys have done a great job organizing it. Everything’s spectacular. It would be great winning here.” Ron says.

“Who says your winning? Just coz you’ve won the last 3 years doesn’t mean it’s going to happen this time too.” Alex retorts.

“This is Cherry Wood, my friends. Welcome to the land where you lose your winning streak.” Val backs him up. That was my first impression of her, a snooty, overconfident girl, who thinks no end of herself and her school. “Aw! Keep dreaming you guys.” I reply.

So, we take our luggage and start moving that we are stopped by them. “Nuh-uh! Leave your luggage here. We’ll take care of it.” Tiya says she was the most civil of all.

“Everyone else is taking it,” James says. “Everyone else is not the defending champion are they? We’ve been told to take special care of you guys.” Val says.

“And please give your kit tokens to us, we’ll get your kits issued and your luggage will reach before you do,” Stuart says. “You have a lot of formalities to finish up and just enjoy your time here. We’ll take care of everything else.” Alex says. “Okay, here they are.” Saying so Ron hands him our kit tokens and we head off to the registration desks.

After having spent about an hour and a half we reach our dorm, the one furthest from the grounds, it was on the extreme opposite of the grounds. It took us 15 minutes just to reach there. Cherry Wood had a huge campus; we'd have to walk a lot to reach the grounds.

“Those guys did keep their word of sending our stuff in before us,” Will says. “They seemed pretty nice no, especially that Tiya girl. She was so welcoming.” James says.

“Stop right there James. They are our opponents you can’t fall for her.” Ron says, he was really typical about this. “Oh come on. I just praised her, that doesn’t mean I like her.” He replies.

“You never know when praise turns to infatuation, we don't want anything distracting us,” Ron replies back. "That other girl was so haughty, thinking of herself as the queen. Such a snoot." I say (quite the irony isn't it?)

"That's the kind of attitude we want. You could go mingle with them after our matches. Not right now." "Yes, boss," James says laughing. Chit-chatting and joking around, we start settling in and checking our kits, to make sure everything was there and in the right size because size mishaps tend to take place.

Upon checking we discover that some of our shoes were indeed smaller, mine, Ron's, James's, and Noah's (our goalie). I and Ron rush to contact Tiya because I didn't trust the others.

“Hey, Tiya. It’s Ron from Sea wood. There seems to have been a mishap with our shoes. Some of them are in a smaller size; could you please replace them and get us the ones in our sizes?" Ron says, calling her.

"Sure Ron, I'll talk to the authorities in charge but I am afraid, the new shoes will only be in till tomorrow. Please make do for today, you’ll get them first thing tomorrow morning. I am so sorry." she replies."Um okay. Could we use our shoes?" he asks.

“No, I am sorry. The administration has strictly advised that everyone only practice and play in the given kits so that everyone uses the same quality stuff and no one has the upper hand," she says. "K thanks," he says and hangs up.

With no striker, defender, and goalie at practice, others were sure to be disturbed as well. So when the others were off to practice, me, Ron, James, and Noah all decide to check out the campus and hang around.

"The campus's great isn't it? And they've done a great job organizing it." James says. "Indeed. Only wish people here were less conceited." I say. "Oh yeah? I wish you guys were a little more open to opinions." a voice from behind says, turned out to be Val.

"Stop following us around like a puppy dog!" I say. "Okay, but if you guys wander into the spooky area of the campus don't blame me. You're headed that way." saying so she turns around and leaves.

"She’s kidding. Chill." Ron says. "She's so weird," I say. We wander around a bit more but then return back to the dorm as the team would be back soon.

“So, how was practice? How are the grounds?” Ron asks Will as soon as he enters in. “Don’t even ask. They set up the music system on the ground we are supposed to practice. I swear the words of ‘Wavin’ Flag’ are imprinted in my mind. They blasted it and we couldn’t even hear the coach. It was damn distracting man!” he replies.

Messed kits, snooty behavior, distractions of this sort, I was starting to believe all this wasn’t a coincidence.

-Extracts from my upcoming novel TRUCE

What do you think happens? Stay tuned to know……………..

To be continued………………..

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