All seem to be falling in place for everyone connected to RPCA and the on going tournament. Having Aman back in the team and Punit showing the right attitude of the game, the morale of the team was boosted high and they literally conquered every match they played. The opponents fell apart in front of their team spirit and skills. Sooner the tournament ended with the team lined up by RPCA lifting the winning cup.

There was joy and celebrations everywhere but there’re two persons who were still struggling with mixed emotions deep within their hearts. They wear plastic smiles while celebrating the team’s victory amidst the whole bunch of youngsters yet they didn’t have peace of mind. One was struggling with a guilt conscious of giving family ahead of ethics and another one was dealing with his decisions being thwarted again and again. 

The night of the victory ended with lots of merry making but a few of the very chosen people received one SMS from Mr. Vikram Shah, inviting all of them to his house for an urgent meeting the very next day around 6 PM in the evening. 

The time finally came, when all the invitees arrived with many questions in their heart for such urgent call by the most respected man of RPCA. They all were welcomed by Trisha, Punit and Shobhna as courtesy without being aware of the reason themselves. When they were inquired by the invitees, they had nothing to say except to express their ignorance about the invitation.  

When everyone gathered and took their seats, Mr. Vikram stood up as all others remained quiet. 

You all must be surprised of this sudden invitation from me. That was obvious. The tournament was won despite of all the turmoils in the beginning of it but there were few things that we kept undone and had poked me all these time… I want to make everything straight and clear before all of you, those who were very part of the trains of events that we all went through.” Mr. Vikram was looking very grave and serious making everyone’s heartbeats skip. 

They all waited desperately for him to continue further so that they can understand what actually he means. Among the invitees there were Manan, Aman, Sanjay, Mudit, Mr. Sharma, the coach and two of the most respected and trusted board members of RPCA. Even Mrs. Shah, Trisha and Punit were expectantly waiting for Mr. Shah to proceed.

My son, Punit is very dear to me, but I could not spend much time with him thinking her mother will be looking after everything. That was a mistake on my part to take things for granted. My absence in my son’s matter didn’t help him with his mannerism though he learnt it in a harder way. I apologise to her and to two of my adorable children for all these.” Mr. Vikram lowered his head as Trisha walked up to him and hugged him tight saying, “Oh Papa… you are the best. Don’t apologise to us in front of so many.” He hugged her back and replied, “A crowd to witness what we promise and confess always stay in our minds engraved, my baby.” 

Shobhna was sitting quietly with her son alongside her. They both exchanged looks with each other, feeling sad about their most loved one, yet felt very proud of his presence in their lives. 

Mr. Shah asked Trisha to sit down as he intended to speak more. He turned to two of the board members and said, “You both were my closest and most trusted friends, why did you then just nodded in agreement with whatever I said or decided? I am annoyed with you both…”  

Both of them were surprised and looked at each other without even uttering a single word. 

Don’t look so surprised; you know I was not right for selecting Punit, my son, over Aman, the more deserving, yet you allowed it, just because I said it so… But I apologise to you both for making such a bad decision and apologise to Aman for doing something which went against him though he showed immense character to subdue the negative feeling and played spirited Cricket to his full capacity. But his pretending of a fractured leg did disappoint me.” He added…

Aman could not say anything as well and was feeling embarrassed to hear such a respected man apologizing to him. “I am so sorry, uncle… I mean Sirr…” He could just say that and lowered his head.

“Mr. Sharma, I disappointed you the most.” Mr. Shah looked at the coach who was already expecting him to address. 

No… Sirr… You didn’t… If you would not had taken that decision then we would not have got Punit back on track.” Mr. Sharma responded quickly as he was the most straight forward man as Mr. Shah was in that room. 

You are right, Mr. Sharma. But still my decision was wrong and I didn’t even look at the dossier prepared by you. So I apologize to you as well.” Mr. Vikram said with a gentle smile on his face. 

Mr. Sharma stood in respect and folded his hand and acknowledge it giving Mr. Shah full respect. 

We all had thoughts, emotions and grievances deep within our hearts, yet those who are bold enough, spill it out in the right manner. I thought of doing so as I was troubled deep within my heart for going against my ethics, my morale.” He added with command, as he felt relieved sharing his heart. 

Aman will be the future captain for next tournaments, hope he won’t be sitting with a fractured leg…” Mr. Vikram said, as all laughed finally after such a long serious pause.  “And I know my son will have no problem with my this decision…” He added looking at Punit who smiled knowing his father’s heart.  

They all joined at the dinning table to savour the delicacies prepared specially by Shobhna, the woman of the house. The joys of victory was more evident today than yesterday as all of them present in that house felt it deep within their hearts before retreating.



It was the reunion of the Shah family that brought the winds of change in their household. They made the rule to have breakfasts and dinners together so that they all could stay connected, and there was no communication gap between them. It brought Vikram back to Shobana, made him realise that she can’t do it all alone, she needs him, his support. The frequent fights, the arguments, the rows of heated exchanges died down, and a healthy, happy atmosphere emerged in place of it. And the most significant change was in Punit, who had learned to be kind, yielding, humble. No more tantrums with the maid, no more lashing out at the driver.

He daily went to school and then to the academy for practice. His team was no more doubtful about his position as the captain; they all could see this new person emerging out of Punit who was full of team spirit and dexterity and leadership quality. No one was happier than Mr Sharma; he could see his team winning the cup this year only if Aman was not sitting on the sides and watching the practice instead of being out there on the field. Punit often went to Aman to seek his opinion; his counsel and Aman gave it to him without any regrets. He could see Sanjay and Punit working together well.

It was a week before the tournament; it was Punit’s’ birthday. And unlike every year, where his father threw him a massive party at some exotic destination and invited the rich and the famous of the society, this year Punit wanted a simple get together with his family and friends at his home.

He invited his friends, his cricket team, his coach to his home for the modest party. He even told Aman to bring Manan and Mudit along. By evening Aman was ready, wearing his best shirt and his brother Manan offered him his watch and perfume. Aman didn’t know what could one gift someone who had everything, but he couldn’t go empty-handed and bought a vintage pen from his savings as a gift. He reached Punit’s house and suddenly felt very uncomfortable upon seeing the sprawling mansion. He mustered courage and went inside; people were already gathered inside, and Punit welcomed Aman in with a hug when he saw him limping inside with his foot still in a cast.

“Happy Birthday!”, said Aman and presented his wrapped gift to Punit with a shy look.

Punit took it with a polite, “Thank You!” and unwrapped it then and there. Punits’ eyes went wide with happiness, “Whoaa! A vintage pen, I never had one, always used those with refills. How thoughtful Aman” said Punit and gave Aman a small hug. Aman felt relieved and felt at ease as he sat with all others, chatting away and laughing.

Punit got his wish on his birthday; he wanted his house to be filled with laughter and friends and love. A few minutes later, Punit’s’ mother laid the table along with the maid with trays of snacks and sweets and glasses of juices along with bowls of soups. The aroma was mouth-watering; everyone was drawn to the table at once when Mr Vikram Shah very proudly declared, “kids, all the delicacies today are made by my lovely wife who once again proved that women could manage work and home with perfection at the same time. Now! Dig In!” He said with a smile and everyone filled their plates with Cheese Cutlets and Potato Jackets and Sesame Fingers. Punit helped himself, but he didn’t miss the smile his mother gave his father.

Punit introduced Aman to Trisha and Aman couldn’t help but feel awed by her. She was just the opposite of what Punit was; she was minimalist, down to earth and soft-spoken. Her beauty was very different from what he thought about rich girls. She wore absolutely no makeup, and her dress was a conservative one. Trish herself was filling everyone’s plate over and over with food, and she made it a point that Aman didn’t have to get up from his seat, bringing him everything right there.

Time flew by, and it was the time to cut the cake. Trisha had made it herself as she was into baking and was carrying it down the stairs. Everyone was huddled around the photo booth where Punit was clicking pictures, and no one noticed when Trisha twisted her ankle. The cake fell from her hands, she was about to fall the flight of stairs and hit her her head on the wall when Aman instinctively leapt from his chair and climbed the steps in a flash and caught her mid-fall.

Trisha’s cry for help caught everyone’s attention, and they ran to help her, but there she was, sitting on the plastered foot of a very guilty looking Aman who wouldn’t dare look up. Trisha’s father held her hand, and she awkwardly climbed down the stairs, feeling sorry for her cake but thanking Aman over and over again.

“It’s….it’s nothing, please.” He said feeling a little heroic

“Sorry, Bhai, I ruined your cake.”, she told Punit.

He hugged her, “Come on, Trish, I am happy that you are okay.”

Mr Sharma had a patronising look on his face as he asked Aman, “Would you climb down yourself or do you still need help?”, his tone was bordering on a tease.

Aman got up, and everyone clapped for him. They were all happy that he was not hurt after all, and that meant he would be playing in coming games. Punit was laughing along with Sanjay, and all the other team members were whistling and catcalling. It was an embarrassing moment for Aman, but he was happy nonetheless. His whole drama was for a purpose, and the purpose was solved. Mission Accomplished!

It was the first match, RLCA vs PCCI. They were in the dressing room. Mr Sharma was boosting everyone up one last time before the game.

“Punit, you are the Captain, I think you have made a great team and well-structured batting order. I am positive your fielding strategy and balling tactics would go a long way this time. But remember, the rules still apply, so no messing.” He said sternly, and Punit nodded without any rebellion in him.

“Sanjay you are the vice-captain. Remember if Punit is not there for any reason, you will lead your team. This is your chance Sanjay, show them what you have got and project your teamwork.” He told thumping Sanjay’s back, and he nodded with a smile and his hands in his pockets.

“Aman, you are our opening batsman, our star batsman. We are all counting on you. I know you will do your best and help us attain a score PCCI can’t chase. And yes, don’t get distracted by your fans in the stands.” He said with a smile, knowing full well Trisha would be there. Aman blushed and shook hands with Mr Sharma.

They all fell in line and rolled out on the field.


Punit!! What are you doing here? You should be home by this time,” said Coach Sharma surprised.

Just came here for some clear thinking . . . didn’t expect to find you still here. But when I saw you, just thought to get some things straight,” said Punit.

What things?,” said Mr. Sharma with a low tone of suspicion.

Punit started with a lower that usual voice, “It was my father, right, who influenced the Board in my favour when you had already made up your mind about making Aman the captain?”

Look, let matters of the Boardroom remain within the walls of the Boardroom. I choose not to discuss anything regarding it with you. But son look, you are in the blooming youth of your life. The way you look at things now, the way you behave now will continue to impact your future. If you will have cemented good relationships now, they’ll always stand by you. However, if you continue to nurture your arrogance you will find yourself all alone one day,” said the coach wrapping his arm around Punit.

Tears streamed down Punit’s cheeks. He stared blankly at the ground with not a word.

Then suddenly, he got up to leave.

Punit . . . listen . . . Punit,” ran the coach behind him. But, Punit jogged himself quickly out of the arena.

He was unusually calm in the car as the driver drove him home.

For a change, his parents were at home that evening as he reached home. As the maid opened the door, he handed her the cricket kit and quietly went up the stairs. The driver and the maid exchanged quiet questioning looks.

Punit bolted the door to his room and flopped himself on the bed and wept inconsolably. The happy scenes from Aman’s house flashed before his eyes. The singing and merriment – it was such a different picture than what he had thought.

How wrong I was! I always thought that money gives happiness because you have all that you want. I thought that poor people are unhappy and miserable creatures. But, here, my family has everything – yet there is no peace, no joy, no love, no understanding, no one has much time for each other. And, Aman’s family literally has nothing compared to what I have. Yet, the peace I felt as I stepped into their house is unexplainable. Why is that missing in my house? I have hardened behind these hard polished walls. Punit went on tugging his pillow as thoughts flooded his mind.

Just then, there was a knock at the door. Punit continued to lie on the bed, ignoring the knock. The knocking grew persistent and louder. He got up from his bed and went to the washroom. He saw his teary face in the mirror and could not believe that it was Punit Shah – the one who boasted with his collar up day in and day out. What had become of him today? Why was he crying after all!

The knocking turned into banging. He quickly washed his face and rushed to open the door with a wet face.

What happened Punit? Its not that you slept off . . . you came in just now. What took you so long to open the door,” demanded his angry father.

Er . . . I was in the washroom,” mumbled Punit. It was unusual for his father to come up to his room and knock the door.

Mr. Vikram Shah observed Punit’s swollen eyes and understood that he had been crying for some reason. However, he chose not to raise it up and just turned and descended the stairs.

Punit left the door open and strolled back into his room.

The maid walked in with a tray of snacks and steaming hot coffee. The mixed aroma of deep fried vadas (Indian snack) and the coffee filled the room. As he walked upto the tea table in his room, the image of the hot samosas and merriment in Aman’s house danced before his eyes. Tears started welling up once again.

Hey, hero what’s up?” It was his sister who had entered the room.

Punit could not control himself any longer. With the half-bitten vada still in his mouth, he held on to Trisha and started weeping.

Trisha was taken aback. “Hey, what happened? Come on tell me, did someone tell you something.”

Trisha did not know how to react. She had never seen Punit this way – at least not since his childhood days.

Why can’t our family be happy? Why can’t we all be together?” muttered Punit tightening his arm around Trisha amidst sobs.


As they entered Aman’s house there was sound of laughter and singing emanating from the room. Manan and his mother were laughing whereas Mudit was singing a funny song and prancing around. Hot tea and samosa was there on the table. Punit was surprised to see the atmosphere in the house. It was just a one room kitchen house but was neatly kept. What touched him the most was the affable aura in the house. They all seemed so relaxed and happy.

Mudit stopped singing in mid sentence and gave an exaggerated bow on seeing Punit. “Here comes the hot shot captain to a poor man’s home” he announced. Manan signalled Mudit to stop the sarcastic tone. They welcomed Punit and offered him tea and samosa. But Punit was so uneasy he didn’t know how to react.. He just mumbled an excuse and rushed out.

On the drive back home the devil and angel on either side of Punit had a huge argument.. the Devil said “Look at that Mr. Goody two shoes.. In injury also this guy has earned points.” The angel on the other hand pointed out “Look at him and his family these are nice people“. And Punit didn’t know what to think.

The stadium was empty, the lights were on. Coach Sharma was sitting in one corner his hands on his forehead. Aman’s injury had drawn the worry lines across his forehead…
With his star player out of action he was really worried about the team’s performance. A niggling doubt was bothering him.. “I just hope Aman is not faking this injury just to strengthen Punit’s place in the team. I know from previous experiences, he is capable of going to any lengths if he thinks it is in the team’s interest.” Coach was still lost in thoughts when someone came and sat beside him. Coach turned to see Punit sitting besides him.


It was Aman at the door, his presence didn’t surprise but it was his state that surprised, rather shocked everyone.  Aman was there with a fractured foot and was walking with a support.

Teammates rushed to him with utter disbelief and a volley of questions “when, how, where” and everything around.

Amidst that commotion a soft (in decibels only) voice enquired Aman “how did it happen?“. It was Punit, who never ceased to make fun of Aman but his demeanour at this moment was unusual of him. (Is it the previous day effect?).

Aman: “I had a minor accident this morning, doctor said it’s a hairline fracture.”

As he was continuing Mr.Sharma arrived and was worried at the sight that was before him.

Mr.Sharma: “Oh God! Aman what is this? How long will it take to get set? What are doctors saying? We have matches lined up in less than two weeks“.

Mr.Sharma seemed restless before Aman could answer him.

Aman: “I understand sir, very unfortunate but I won’t be able to participate in training or matches at least for next 1 month. Team needs to decide on the order of batting with immediate effect so as to streamline the things. And I have a recommendation to make, can I?

Aman paused to get Mr.Sharma’s affirmation which he did get immediately.

Aman: “Sir, I think Punit and Sanjay (player 1) are best bet to open and Sanjay with his skills and rapport with the team can be the vice captain of the team in my absence.

Mr.Sharma “seems a viable option for me, I am ok with this if team agrees. At the end of the day it’s a team game”.

And pat comes the nod of everyone in the team except for Punit and Sanjay who were silent.

And gave a sharp look at the team that had dumbfounded Sanjay, who was witnessing all the occurences in disbelief and as he stood there Aman walked up to him and placed his firm hand on him and in a rather hush voice said “this can be your passport to fame, prove yourself as a team member, playing for the team, accolades and position will follow“.

After this meet everyone dispersed to the practice ground.  Punit with his coach’s permission left ground for a while and he met Aman at the exit asking if he could drop him home.

It was Aman who was actually surprised by this turn of events and without uttering a word gave his consent even before he could realise it.

Throughout the way no word was spoken apparently but their minds were everything but calm.

They reached Aman’s place. As he got down Aman invited Punit to his house. Punit declined the offer at first but insistence from Aman made him to enter his place which he  used to mock upon earlier.  Even Punit was wondering why he is doing this….


Punit wasn’t sure if he was ready to face his teammates. He kept wondering how this team was thinking of backstabbing him. He walked out of the dressing room and went straight to Mr.Sharma’s room. After 10 minutes he came out of the room and headed back home. His house is 20 kms from the academy, he started brisk walking, but slowly he increased the pace to a well paced jog and never stopped until he reached home.

Punit is feeling very angry. He isn’t sure what is causing his anger. He spent a couple of hours in his room without talking to anyone. Later on he joined his mom and dad at the dinner table.

“After a long time all of us are having dinner together. I wish this could happen more often.”, said Shobana.

“You are right. Sometimes while running the errands of life, we miss the essence of it. Spending time with you both is as important”, replied Vikram.

Vikram: Punit, How is the practice going on?

Punit: It is going okay papa(father).

Vikram: Physical fitness before the tournament is really very important. Hope you are encouraging all the team to be more active on the ground.

Punit: Sharma sir made us do rounds in the morning.

Vikram: That’s good. Have you guys finalized the order of batsmen? Of course, you and Aman must be the opening pair.

Punit: Not yet papa. Only we both are confirmed. We haven’t discussed any details yet.

Vikram: Why not? Today this should have been discussed. Everyone should be well aware of their on field role. It is less than two weeks left for the tournament.

Punit: Okay papa.

Vikram: You are the captain. Have a word with Mr.Sharma tomorrow regarding this.

Punit left the dining hall without uttering a word, went straight to his room and closed the door. Vikram and Shobana looked at each other puzzled. Shobana couldn’t resist from requesting Punit to finish his dinner. She knocked on the door, “Punit, please come and have dinner. What is wrong? What ever it is you can talk to us. Open the door first”

Punit opened the door. His eyes are red, filled with water. “Everyone in the team thinks I am the culprit. What did I do mom? Maybe, I know what I did wrong. I requested you to make papa influence others. This is why they are seeing me as villain”, said Punit sobbing. 

Vikram was quick to respond, “Punit, Punit.. Stop crying. I have not talked or tried to influence anyone beta(son). Yes, definitely you asked me to, but I did not. Trust me”

“True papa, but you did not stop the team from voting for me either. I spoke to Sharma sir today. I got to know that I am not even an option for captaincy. The only reason I could have ended up being captain because people voted for me. Until I overheard the conversation in the dressing room, I thought I was chosen as I was capable. Papa, I wanted to be the captain, but not when others don’t have trust in me. My thoughts were clouded by my ego when I asked you to influence. I at least thought I would be the second recommendation to Aman. Papa, this is hurting me more than I thought it would. How can I be leading the team, when they themselves don’t believe in my ability. They were conspiring on loosing so that my inability to be the team gets evident to the board”, Punit spit out what’s bothering him. 

Vikram was awfully silent. All the while he has been thinking of how he should correct Punit. The problem is not Punit alone. He himself had so many mistakes, he should have stopped Punit from being the captain. He never thought, that could hurt Punit even more if he had to face the revolt. 

Meanwhile Aman was in deep thought on how the team got influenced by just one person’s idea. This also means many are not okay with Punit being the captain. The team is mentally fragile and the probability to loose focus is higher. This cannot be healthy at all. May be it is better to bring this to the notice of Sharma Sir, but what if the whole team then becomes against me? 

Maybe, one more good option could be to talk with the team again. I  don’t have a problem with Punit being captain, but if the team is not comfortable with it, they should be given a fair chance to express that. On behalf of the team, I can then talk with Sharma sir. This seems better. Consensus of every one in the team is very important. Tomorrow first thing in the morning, I will talk with the team.

The next day …. 

Everyone was in the dressing room getting ready for the practice session. Punit entered the room which resulted in a slight murmur from others. “Team, I would like to apologize for my behavior in the previous months. I was not in the best of my time, and also feel the need to mold myself to best suit our team”, said Punit. There was a knock on the door, and the entire room was surprised with who was standing at the door. 


Things started rolling at the RPC academy. Practice sessions got intense so did the overconfidence of Punit. He firmly believed that he is the face of the team, his team needs him, his team loves him and everyone wants him to be around. But this belief at least let him improve his game.

But soon he got the reality check that once again raked his vulnerable, volatile self.

Punit overheard the dressing room conversation, in fact witnessed the plot that was being planned against him by the teammates as they were unaware of his presence in the vicinity.

Player 1: Tomorrow is the day when we have to show our solidarity as players of a team.

Player 2: What’s the plan?

Course of their conversation took a sharp turn when the players revealed their intent.

Player 1: We have to make sure that that haughty rich captain of ours is shown the doorway. We might have to under perform, we might have to lose matches but he should not the get accolades of being the captain of a successful team. We have seen enough of his tantrums and dominance and no more we shall dance to his tunes who places himself above the team. Who all agree with me, raise your hands.

Amidst all the murmurs of affirmations and doubts a hand was raised.  It was Aman. He was there watching all the drama unfolding.

Punit’s hate for him was more or less getting cemented with this gesture of Aman.  He was raring to go and smash Aman but pulled himself back and kept himself at bay to listen to Aman’s plan.

Aman:  So basically you want to get yourself out, bowl haphazardly to aid the opposition, fumble in the field only to trample Punit, isn’t it? Or did I miss anything?

Player 1: you got it.

Aman: But why? We can talk to Mr.Sharma about our viewpoint of Punit. We can solve this off field too.

Meanwhile Punit smirked in his heart “Huh, come on Mr.Goody Good, show off your true face.

And the discussion continued in the  dressing room.

Player 1: Oh come on Aman! Are you this naive or acting so? Don’t you feel hurt to what has happened to you? You were overlooked straightaway just to get the prince conferred with the captaincy crown. On innumerable occasions he jeered at you, looked down upon you. This is the right time to set things straight. And do you really feel that Mr. Sharma has any power over the board headed by Mr. Shah to heed attention to our feelings and demands? Had it been so you would have been in Punit’s shoes at this moment.

Aman: Sorry brother, I never appointed you as my mouth piece. And don’t worry about shoes, be glad that you have feet. And for all those who think that his plan (pointing at player 1) should be our course of action, I just have one question, “Is he trustworthy? Can you guarantee his loyalty to anyone of you when you are in Punit’s place? I agree Punit have behavioural issues but he isn’t a bad person and most importantly not a cheat conspiring against own team. I know many among you who seek monetary help and otherwise from him and he was the best person around then but his position now is hurting you all. Why?”

This brought an absolute silence in the dressing room while one person’s thoughts raced and made fluttering noise in his head and wanted Aman to continue so that he could arrive at a conclusion, that’s Punit who was still oblivious to the teammates.

And Aman did continue: put your team first, if it wins those laurels won’t go in vain for you too. And if you can’t be loyal to your team now, I can see a possible traitor in making standing against the country for his personal gains.

Aman’s strong statement was interrupted by the player 1.

Player 1: you got me wrong, it’s for the team only I was talking about. We have to stick together.

Aman: Yes, now you are talking! We are a team and Punit is in our team. And don’t forget I am the Vice Captain and can take disciplinary action against you, remember the rules? Cut this crap and concentrate on your game.

Aman was stern this time, very unusual of him and left the room without noticing Punit…