“through the act of living, the discovery of oneself is made concurrently with the discovery of the world around us. . ."

Saturday, October 1, 2011

The Basketball Players

Outside my window, below on the ground, the Basketball players.
In the mornings I awake to the drumming of the ball on the concrete floor
And to the yelps and shouts of children playing basketball.
Lifting the curtain, through the haze of the mosquitoe net,
I watch them, lithe, graceful
Jumping and running like antelopes in the savannah.

Dribbling the ball, they run to and fro
Across the court, turning, twisting, ducking
Swiftly passing the ball, faking a throw
Blocking, trying to snatch, moving like cats
On a hot tin roof and then leap and lift the ball to the basket
Some bounce off the board, some slip neatly through the net
Only to be grabbed and loped again and again.
Alert, agile, acutely aware, the eyes of the children
intent on the game, playing to win.

How wonderful it is to be young, boundless energy, radiating health
Happiness and pleasure in playing a game!
Games, how many, of how many kinds, yet to play and to win
Some to lose, some to be remembered, some to be forgotten!

Slipping the curtain back, I turn around and stand still
Listening to the cries and laughter of the players
And to the thud of the basketball like the thudding of my heart,
Thudding, bouncing, thrown, captured and released to the air
Until the final whistle blows, until the sun sets and
Darkness envelopes my life.

******** Balachandran V, Alleppey, 29.09.2011


  1. "Young man rejoice in thy youth".
    So true for the ones who have begun the downhill slide.

  2. Yes, one can be wistful at times over the spent youth, but we were young too once. Age brings its own kind of joy and pleasure that we could not have had in our youth.

    In the poem I simply tried to create a visual of the contrast between the young players and the middle-aged me, who is aware of every squeak in the body, aware of the passing of years and the nearing of the end....

  3. thought you should have done without the last para... but that is you, Balan!
    Do you know how many Indian basketball players Aleppey YMCA has produced? Good to know the old culture is continuing.

  4. As on your verses,"Games, how many, of how many kinds, yet to play and to win
    Some to lose, some to be remembered, some to be forgotten!" are remarkable.There are games that I can't ever play is what I murmur.

    With this mention of sun set and darkness envelopes' I am disappointed in a way.Why we are into these clichéd thinking ? Is it real sun set Balachandran ?Isn't it an extension of what we experience ? And the darkness that envelopes..Is it darkness ?

    In fact the nature got some signs there turning the black hair to grey..getting brighter.

    Iniyethra rithukkale kai kooppanam,
    Iniyethra dooram pokenam..

  5. @Melange: This i read long ago in the Readers' Digest. A small kid asks his father: 'Dad, have you seen the star in an Apple?' The father shook his head. The kid cut the apple laterally into two hemispherical halves and lo! there was a star right in the middle!

    Your comment on the graying hair reminded me of the above. But, except for a few individuals like me, most dye their hair in black or something else!!

    I don't how old you are, Melange, but there comes a certain age in one's life when one become more and more aware of what Anil says ' the downhill slide'. I have identified this stage in one of my poems as the day when you stop reading the sports page first and instead choose the obituary column.

    As one sees many of the known people fall down by the wayside, and realise that one's number can come up any time - when one sees young children playing basket ball and realise that one cannot run and play like them ever again -

    It could be a bit depressing, you know. I wrote it because thats the way I had felt. The evening and the darkness - I have seen these kids playing at 1930 hrs when I return to YMCA from office and they would leave by 2000. That became a metaphor, though cliche-d. I wanted to contrast the two ages also.

    As ever, I am greatly thankful to you, M, for giving such attention to my writings; I consider it as an honour and will always cherish it,


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