What inspiration got accumulated on his feet for once he could not comprehend. He kicked the ball so forcefully and that it soared over the wall and fell inside the other apartment block. He calculated that the ball dropped right under the window of the beauty. He could not say now what wild air ruffled his mind for a moment. He noticed, today the beauty was staring at him intently bending forward a little on the window. And he wanted to have a look at her from a close range. That day the afternoon was serene too. The residents of both the apartments have gone on a Sunday picnic. He chose not to go to maintain practice. He did not know that the beauty also would not go. So he willfully made the shot as he noticed the beauty on the window. He would see her from close range as he would collect the ball. Maybe, hopefully there’d be some exchange in look. The way one is staring at him.  

There would be security guard at the gate. He must be more alert today as the residents are on an outing. But he need not worry about that because everyone around the place knows him. And they are aware of his practice here. So the security at the gate won’t stop him to go inside to search of the ball.

But on reaching the gate he was surprised. The security is missing from his post. Though the main gate is closed the wicket gate is ajar. If he has to wait for the security to arrive the maiden opportunity would be missed – the beauty might go inside and he would be deprived of getting a close look. The scope to greet her would also slip away. So without waiting for the security people he entered through the wicket gate and broke into a run like entering into the ground making his calf muscle dance and reached the backyard. He saw that the ball is right at the spot under the window and the beauty is still there like a still photo on the window. Now he has to seek the ball at such an opportune moment when their eyes meet and the scope for silent exchange of messages exist. Maybe just a greeting, “Good afternoon miss – no, may not be miss, so good afternoon ma’m”. Practicing thus on the trot he reached under the window. After picking the ball, he looked up.

Then the earth shook. Not under his feet. But in his heart. He gathered that the lady is not staring at him. It was not difficult to understand that her body was still, lifeless. He could clearly make out a knife stabbed at her back. Someone kept her like that in the leaning position. Has the killer after committing the crime placed her lifeless body on the window to appear watching him practice just to play a practical joke on him? The memory of the events after that is blurred. He just remembers that he cried out loud out of shock. The security that was absent at the gate, too appeared from somewhere. A few residents staying back in some of the flats too rushed in. he explained in an incoherent manner how and under what circumstances he discovered the dead body. He just did not say that he kicked the football in that direction willfully.

The story commenced in football. Now it has arrived in a case of murder. It can’t be firmly said at this stage where it is headed to. He is the top scorer of this year’s league, whose popularity in the city is at its peak, who is chased by teenage autograph hunters on and off the playground too, whose nerve is not so weak that he would break down easily. But he did not escape interrogation of police. Police said that he was the first witness of the dead body, so he must describe in detail to get the investigation on the right track. Luckily the Station House Officer is a football fan and he happens to be his favourite player. He not only provided him a comfortable chair to sit but also treated him with tea and snacks. At the time of departure, he shook hands and wished him success in the last match of the league.

His coach arrived at the police station thinking that he must be worried. A few of the club officials too. It was not that a few interested onlookers gathered there, the onlookers started spinning rumours centering the murder within the short time. He is a football hero. So his supporters started adding up many heroic deeds in the original story to make the discovery of the murder appear more heroic. The coach was satisfied to discover that the most dependable player of Sundance Club on whom all the hope prevailed has not been afflicted by nervous disorders. Still he arranged to make him practice the shots under his guidance.

The fresh practice under the coach was progressing excellently. The coach appeared very pleased. He devised a new test plan and tested him thoroughly. He scored perfect ten. [Continued]

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