I have developed a new passion in my company. My colleague sitting beside me, across the cube-wall is an avid badminton player. He plays well. He got into the mode last year where he became enthused of getting together a badminton team representing the company. By law of shortest distances, I was the nearest catch. I was caught.
I believed strongly that I am a badminton player. Afterall hasn't every bong girl, on a hot summer afternoon, with a lopsided hat on her head, hit her friend from the same colony with the shuttle cock? Mostly without the net in between. What is badminton other than making the connection between the racquet and the birdie? I recall laughing and rallying back and forth with my sister on the terrace in a game of badminton. There were no rules except, hit it back, and hard enough so that my sister couldn't hit back! Games always ended with the loser crying back to mother and food. That was chapter 1.
Then came chapter 2 of badminton- in UCLA. I borrowed a raquet from my senior, gathered the few people who claimed their friendship to me and reached the badminton court in UCLA gym. Tuesdays and Thursdays were reserved as baddy days. As I started playing, I realized that people were not playing the same game. What was badminton for me, did not exist in their game dictionary. I realized badminton was not all about standing still at one place and hitting only those shots that came within a hand's radius. It also wasn't about sending shots back anyhow. It involved hitting where the opponent couldn't reach. Surprisingly there were strategies and actual physical exercise involved. It became obvious very fast that I wasn't playing baddy at all. My friends decided to unceremoniously dump me from their future games and I dumped them from my orkut friend's list.
Chapter 3 - Company badminton. Now that I had wizened up from my previous badminton experiences, I decided I was a good raw material to get moulded into the company's baddy team. There was a inter-company competition coming up in Bay Area and it was a perfect opportunity for my hidden talent to surface into limelight! I reached the practice sessions, with a borrowed racquet, hoarded birdies, new Adidas tennis skirt and new sports top. I looked the part I was going to play. People encouraged me as I stepped up and I smiled back. In my head a celebrity had been born.
In the practice sessions, it became painfully clear that work was required. Apparently my talent was very deeply and well hidden. My serve was crooked, my elbows were bent, my birdies were lost, my opponents always won and I panted and fretted just to return a shot. Some of my friends even suggested I join the opponent's team to prove my loyalty! But my colleague held his firm belief in me. Being an Asian, I was predisposed to possess badminton genes.
On an early Saturday morning in May the round robins began. I had 3 games lined up- two women's doubles and one mixed doubles. My partners were all very encouraging. We came up with new strategies and I armed myself to excel. As points rolled by I realized my talent hadn't surfaced at all. Our opponents turned out to be three time champions! They smiled and smashed and then shook hands saying " Good play huh?" Were they commending themselves? All three games were unanimously lost. My talent wasn't deeply hidden, it was non-existent. Round robins ended and I sat down munching my banana and subway sandwich. Around me the qualified teams were playing hard.
I left the scene of the battle , dejected. I later found out that I had missed being in the Team Photograph! Now I don't have any proof of my labour and given the way I have played, I have serious doubts whether I would be summoned again next year.
What did I learn? Bad-minton has "Bad" for a reason.
I haven't given up. The racquet I borrowed still lies with me. Once in a while I smash an imaginary shot in the air to my invisible opponent who invariably can't reach for it. Rows of ghost spectators rise up on their feet in a mesmerized silence. And with that I win the match, the game and the battle!