Monday, October 29, 2012

They Called Her ‘Fats’ By’ Paro Anand Part 5



The children too were only too willing to consider the turn of events in the darkest possible way.
“It’s all a part of her secret rituals, y’know. Throwing the lance, spearing unsuspecting victims.”
“Of all the sports there are, isn’t it strange that she chose the most medieval of them all?” they sniggered.

But Fatima turned her back on the gossip as she showed up for the first practice session. Mrs. Whitbread straightaway noticed the fierce concentration with which the girl applied herself. Her eyebrows knitted together, her jaw pulsing, she looked and listened with keen interest as the teacher taught her how to grip the javelin, how to support it on her finger, how to balance her body before the run up. How to brace herself for the throw.  

The grip. The run. The leaning back and then – the throw. Fatima hopped on one leg, arm extended for balance and a thrill shot through her as the javelin soared, zinging through the air. And landed with a perfect TCHACK! Steel tip buried snugly in the earth. Pole vibrating with energy.

She spun around, eyes shining. The teacher nodded, eyes shining too. It was good. Not very far, but it was a great first throw. Neat and true. The technique was right. It was an auspicious start, full of promise.

Each child was given three throws before handing over the javelin to the next one. Then they waited for their turn to come around once again. Fatima could barely contain her impatience. She waited for her turn, almost hopping from one foot to the other. It had been years, perhaps all her life, that she had felt eager to do something, motivated to achieve. She didn’t notice it then, but the others did. It was also the first time that she allowed her eagerness to show, or at least, she didn’t struggle to bury it.

Her hand shook in eager anticipation as she gripped the lance again. She shut her eyes momentarily, gathering her strength, reining in her thoughts. It did feel like she was taking part in a ritual. There was something mythical in the spear. When she started her run, the javelin became an integral part of her and when it flew, eagle-light, from her hand, it was as if her soul went with it. Guiding it with soaring spirit, ripping through the air, reaching for the sky. Before starting its descent. It was the longest throw that had ever been recorded in the school.

“Witchcraft…” mumbled the boy who’d had his turn before hers. Thrice his javelin had fouled, landing flat, skidding over the grass like a wounded snake, instead of the satisfying sound of the tip biting into the earth.

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