Sucharita was a eleven year old girl, studying in Class VI. She loved playing badminton. It started small, as all big things do. She picked up a racquet once in school during the games period, when she was in Class IV and her games teacher instructed her on the nuances of the game. It was not that she started loving the game from the time she touched the racquet. It was more a gradual liking for the game. It helped that her natural skills and keen eyesight helped her play the game well. The games teacher soon realised that she had an extremely talented player at hand. Feeling that Sucharita’s game would improve with a better coach, she recommended that Sucharita attend special coaching sessions under Coach C in his academy.
Coach C was conventional in his approach – he started slow and maintained the tempo. It was almost two years later that he considered Sucharita capable of attending a tournament. The tournament was being held in a city about 300 kms away and was conducted over a period of 2 days. Sucharita was to go alone with the coach and 3 other students of the academy. This would be the first time that she would be going anywhere without her parents and the newness was quite exciting.
She had her packing done a week in advance and then the countdown started. The day of the journey arrived and her parents came to the station to see her off. She just glazed over when they started reiterating the instructions, that they had already given her many times over. The guard sounded his whistle and they were off. She waved to her parents until they were just specks in the distance.
All of a sudden, she felt extremely alone and sad. Soon, her coach and friends started a conversation and she felt better. They started playing games and the time just flew. A few stations whizzed by and then, the kids decided that they would get a better view if they went near the door of the carriage. The four of them chose the two doors and plonked down on the two doorways. Coach stood in the centre watching over them. The cool wind on their faces was exhilarating and gave them a sense of flying, due to the speed of the moving train. When the train took a turn, they saw the end of the train curve and had fun counting the compartments.
A station came up and Coach made them all get back to their seats. He got down to get some snacks for them, with strict instructions to them to not stir from their seats. Well, you know how kids are. When they saw Coach disappearing, they sneaked down the steps to see what the platform looked like. There was a juice kiosk nearby and they went up there to get some juice. It gave them a thrill to be transacting on their own. With their juices in hand, they forgot the time and were sipping and savouring, when they were startled by a loud whistle. One of them said – well, that is one train that is leaving. Then Sucharita said – well, it looks like that it is ours. Reaction set in and they were shocked out of their wits when they saw that their train had slowly started moving. They made a mad dash towards the train and clawed their way up the train. They were real lucky that there was grown-up who pulled them in one by one.
Well, you can imagine the state of affairs then. Coach spoke to them then. He did not shout or raise his voice. However, they were not likely to forget what he told them about responsibility and heeding advice for the rest of their lives. His words showed how very much disappointed he was with them.
The kids were quite subdued the rest of the trip and when they reached their room, there was discussion on how they could make it up to Coach. Well, the only way they could think of was to ensure that they played extremely well. Needless to say, they did very well and came back with a host of medals. Coach was thrilled, to say the least.
The journey back was uneventful but a very happy one. They begged Coach to forgive them for their thoughtlessness. Coach smilingly accepted their apologies and said, “I hope you will continue to do well in subsequent tournaments also, without trying to get down on some platform and miss the train.” The kids burst into loud peals of laughter and started thinking about the stories they would tell their parents and friends.