Standing at the ground, Kane thought about his days as a famous football player.
People used to tattoo his name over their body, hold placards blatantly proposing him and cheered for him till their voices were hoarse. Some nights, he could still hear their chants resonating in his mind. “King Kane! King Kane! Goalie’s bane! King Kane!”
He remembered the first time he had heard the chant. He was walking out on the field with the rest of the team and suddenly the chants erupted from a group. Within minutes, the entire stadium was crying out his name and flashing placards containing the new slogan. A cold fear had crept in his heart for the very first time in his entire career. What if he failed to score!? This doubt was new for him, triggered by the adulation of the crowd cheering for him wildly.
But he had scored and how! The fans went crazy and the entire stadium erupted with chants. That was just the beginning of what was to follow.
Before every match, a wild hype ensued. Friendly bets and voting began on the media, asking people to guess the exact number of goals that Kane would score in the upcoming match. When he saw this for the first time on television, he was shocked. The adulation and craze that followed him, slowly got to him. He started feeling nervous before every match. He no longer followed the media, for fear of what sort of bets and votes were being made about him.
The tipping point came one day when he stepped out of his car to get some fuel. The awestruck assistant at the petrol pump, after refueling his car’s tank, had absolutely refused the payment. By this time, Kane had reached a dangerous level of frustration about his fandom. He managed to retain his temper and politely offered the payment. The assistant refused yet again. That was when Kane totally lost it. He gripped the assistant’s collar and screamed at him. “Why can’t you simply accept the freaking money and let me go in peace??” Of course, this incident was recorded by someone and posted all over the social media.
By some perverse twist of fate, this incident made him even more famous. Memes floated around in the social media, glorifying his anger.
That was when Kane left his country and his fandom for good and settled in a remote village.
With a deep breath, he came back to the present. At 6.30, the first lot of kids came to the school ground, greeting him in loud voices, their eyes reflecting awe and respect for their Coach Kane Sir, not ‘King Kane’. As he looked at them, a sentence that he had come across in a book flashed in his mind – ‘Adulation from unexpected avenues can bring back zest like magic.’ Deep gratitude welled up within him. These kids had brought a purpose to his life. He embraced their gift of ‘normalcy’ with all his heart.
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