Frozen with fear

Image (C) Young World, The Hindu, 2015

Why did the football match stop before it had even begun? What made the Red Sox’s knees tremble?

The animals in Cambodia had gone crazy. Football fever was catching up and the final match was between the nation’s popular teams Red Sox and Black Sox. Fans from near and far, including the Hoppers, had gathered to watch this exciting game.

Growls and grunts, tweets and chirps, and whistles and hoots greeted the two teams of red-shanked and black-shanked doucs. The referee raised his trunk and trumpeted loudly to start the match. Rana hopped and jumped in frenzy. “Go, go, go Red Sox!” he croaked in his loudest voice. He waved cheerfully to the adorable long-tailed langur monkeys in red socks, black shorts, grey vests, white gloves, white whiskers and trusting almond-shaped eyes.

“Let-it-be, let-it-be, may the better team win!” sang the grasshopper. It was such a cool song that the spectators joined in. The referee stamped his foot heavily on the ground. The earth shook and that made the crowd quiet. He then asked the teams to take their places.

Something strange happened right then. The Red Sox players froze in fear, as the referee’s call had scared them and the little blue-faced black-shanked doucs were nowhere to be seen. Amid the ruckus, Cockatoo, a commentator from Indonesia, yelled into the mike.

“Friends, there is a delay. Believe it or not, one team refuses to move and the other has run off the field!” announced the sulphur-crested bird. Rock and Let-it-be felt that they had to set things right. On the net, they learned that the two species of monkeys were gentle and timid and were easily scared. “Rock, I think I know what is scaring these players. It is that enormous referee and his loud trumpeting!” cried Let-it-be excitedly.

Breaking rules

Rock nodded. With a hop, a skip and a jump, they went across the field and met the organisers. They got Little Owl to replace the elephant and got the Black Sox players back on the field. The new referee hooted for the match to start.

There was even more confusion now. The rules of the game were forgotten. The football was kicked, touched and even tossed around with tails. The referee whistled and hooted. He waved yellow and red cards to the players but couldn’t really book them, as they had no names or numbers on their jerseys. The commentator too had a huge problem. He could not tell one player from the other. Who was the goalie? What about the centre-forward? Oh, was that a goal? Who scored it? “This is ridiculous. I cannot commentate this match,” muttered Cockatoo.

Rana picked up the mike to set things right. He called the players to collect new jerseys that had their name and number on it. The match started again and went on till sundown. It did not matter who won the match, for there wasn’t an official scorer. Both teams were declared winners. Everyone was happy as their favourite team had won!

Published as part of a series titled Open and Shut Cases in Young World, The Hindu on April 23, 2015.

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