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Friday, April 18, 2008

Chp 167. Look Ma, no stamina!

Today was my litmus test, and I failed miserably. Ever since I got back to Mizoram, I’ve been extremely busy preparing my aging bones and muscles for the prestigious “All Mizoram YMA (Young Mizo Association) Basketball Tournament”. I didn’t even have time to blog because of that.

I started running again for the past 3 weeks, training myself for this tournament. I felt I had to prove myself at the court again, even though I haven’t played basketball for more than 5 years now.

And today we played our first match. We lost embarrassingly. And what is even more embarrassing for me was that I scored just 3 points during the entire game.

I met a lot of people I used to play basketball with during my hey days at the court today. Most of them are now married, fat, or both. They saw me at the court today and they exclaimed in surprise “You still play!!??” I grinned back at them uncomfortably.

1997 was a magical year for me. It was the year I led my team (JL Vision) to victory at the Mizoram BB Tournament (there was no YMA tournament back then) putting an end to the reigning champion Zarkawt Falcons’ domination over the game. I was adjudged the best player of Mizoram that same year. Ah, what wonderful memories back then. Sniff sniff.

But then, 1997 is 11 years ago. I am no longer the player I once used to be. Forget dunking, I can’t even jump and touch the freaking board now. My two USPs were that I could play the position of “guard” at defence but play “post-up” at offence too (the position that tall “centres” play), and nobody could block my fade-away shots. Now I cannot even do either.

Aging is truly a sinking feeling. What hurts the most is that, in our mind we picture ourselves doing a particular action because we’ve done it a million times before, but in reality we just simply cannot do it. After the match, I just felt like jumping off a cliff. That’s how depressed I was. But then I thought again, I won’t even be able to do that.

To err is human. Sometimes we do have an off-day during any match. At least we know where we went wrong, learn from our mistakes, and try not to repeat that in the next match. But what happens when you know your mistake is that you’ve been pushed to the limit of your capabilities? All hope seem so lost right then.

My childhood friends keep telling me that I am in self-denial about my age, refusing to accept the fact that I am now… old. But isn’t that what most people do too? We try to keep up with all the music and lingo of today’s young generation, while fiercely protecting our own “youth culture” of our era.

Funny thing today was, not just my teammates but the opponents all called me “u Kima” (“watch u Kima carefully” or “don’t let u Kima shoot”). The prefix “u” pronounced “ooh”, is used before a person’s name as a mark of respect in our Mizo culture to call somebody much older than the one who is calling. Jeez, I am an “u Kima” to all these people now. I don’t even know whether to cry or scream.

Anyway I decided today that I am retiring from professional basketball. It hurts to bid adieu to my greatest passion but my body is just no longer able to take all the stress and endurance. Damn you, Age.

I felt so bad disappointing my teammates who had so much expectation from me today. Sadly I couldn’t even deliver a single itsy-bitsy component of those expectations. Our YMA General Secretary told me before the match that I would not be substituted because I had to lead the youngsters in our team to play their best. Alas, I had to be substituted 6 times because I could no longer run. Damn you, stamina.

I just want know whether you, my respected reader, have ever given up on something you cherish deeply because you are now too old to do that. How did it feel like when you had to let go of it? Does it hurt as much as the feeling you get when all your hope is crushed into smithereens? Is there any support group for such people who are so down in the dumps that life becomes a tad meaningless?

I look at some of the guys I used to play with 15 years ago. Most of them are pot bellied and bald now. Is it finally time to join their ranks? I look at the guys I am playing with today. Some of them were not even born 15 years ago. They are still in school while I’ve at least graduated as an engineer and had a lot of other experiences in life. Poetic justice?

Getting old sometimes really sucks. Sometimes the cruel hands of time play mean tricks on our physical agility. And I found out about that today. The hard way.