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The Orange Ghost

Published : Saturday, 11 March, 2023 at 12:00 AM  Count : 544
Darpan Kabir

(Concluding part)

The boy seems to have read Rupam's mind. He says again, "Check it out. See for yourself how awesome my free kicks are! I can do a free kick from anywhere, and the ball will make a rainbow curve and head straight to the goal post. After that it's your decision to put me on your team or not. Just trust me; you will be far from disappointed."

"Okay, so let's see how you do on the test." Rupam challenged.
They take the strange boy to the playing field. Rupam places the ball in midfield and instructs, "Take a free-kick from here. Let's see if you can make a goal."

Everyone starts giggling except Bijan, who does not seem fazed at all. Kumo kicked the ball, and as he had claimed, flew curved into the air - and straight into the goalpost. Everyone's eyes widened in surprise, and you could hear some of the boy's even gasp in astonishment.

But Kumo was void of any expression at all, as if it was a very ordinary shot. Then he shot five more free kicks from midfield, and the ball appeared to enter the goalpost in the shape of a rainbow every time. He delivers three more kicks from the other corners, and each time the ball finds its way into the net.

Such a scene left the players of the Vijaypur Eleven team speechless. As shocked as they were, the feeling of happiness completely masked over everything else. Such a phenomenal striker is bound to bring any football player immense joy. The team decided to start the practice match with the strange orange boy and started by dividing the players into two groups. The boy scores 12 goals for his team! All the goals were extremely magnificent and everyone, including Rupam, hugged him after the practice match ended.

"We now have our own Maradona!" Bijan yelled. Some called him "Pele" and some called him "Messi," while others called him "Ronaldo." Rupam states, "He'll be labelled as the greatest player in football history."

Bijan's laughter can now finally be heard. He was the first one to meet this boy so he started to feel proud that he was the one to introduce him here. What a stroke of luck to have found such a spectacular striker just the day before the big tournament. Bijan could barely contain his excitement!
Suddenly, Rupam remembered that the boy's name was still unknown. He felt very ashamed that he hadn't bothered to ask. He quickly grabbed the boy into a hug, and then he asked him, "What's your name, friend?"


Such a small name! He had never seen such a talented boy before in his entire life. Despite having such a tiny introduction, his actions have such an incredible impact. The talent, the humility - it was inspiring. Rupam's eyes filled up with tears of joy.

The arrival of Kumo and his skills spread the news of Vijaypur's football event far and wide. For the first time Vijaypur Eleven started winning. Kumo caused a commotion from the very first match by scoring an astounding 9 goals. Debates sparked everywhere on how he was exhibiting such exemplary skills. People gathered in Vijaypur to watch the football tournament from far-off villages and urban centres, the crowd increasing day by day.

After winning through the competition, it was finally time for the grand finale. On the morning before team's final match, hundreds of fans begin congregating near the football ground. The locals are finding it difficult to deal with the strain of so many people and so temporary tents have been pitched around the house of Vijaypur's Union Council Chairman Hakim Ali to shelter the outsiders. Upazila Council officials and journalists from various newspapers also attended the final match. The match will be between Vijaypur Eleven and Gognagar Football Club, the reigning three-year champions.

Tomorrow, the District Commissioner will attend the final match as the chief guest. The District Commissioner is visiting Vijaypur village for the very first time after hearing about Kumo's incomparable style of playing football. The village was very excited; for this was the first time someone of such stature was coming to their village. Due to this, Chairman Hakeem Ali has decided to award Kumo the "Pride of the Village'' certificate.

He will also build a two-story building for Kumo, so he may have the best abode in the village. They all know that one day Kumo will be a world-famous footballer, and the name of Vijayarpur will be spread all over the world. The Chairman even called Satyananda Ghosh and praised him highly for keeping his word about the victories, and that he will be awarded too.

Bijan, Rupam, and all the players share the same feelings of happiness towards Kumo. The strange orange boy had not only become their friend, but had scored 41 goals in nine matches before the finale! According to Bijan, Kumo could have scored more if he wanted to. Everyone is confident that they will win this year's championship. The opposing Gognagar Football Eleven team's players, coaches, and officials are all feeling anxious about the upcoming match, and they don't seem happy despite being in the final match. They were lamenting their defeat prior to it even happening! Vijaypur's villagers are all celebrating, for they believe history will be made in this village tomorrow.

However, none of them are aware of how devastating this night is for Kumo. He sat in the playing field that he had grown to love, silently staring up at the beautiful full moon. He thought about what tonight meant when suddenly next to him Hazabarala appeared. "Kumo, you know we have to get back to the ghost kingdom before dawn? Today will mark the end of 30 days. Your time here on Earth is up.". For the first time in Kumo's life he was not pleased to see Hazabarala.

"I am aware that I must leave before the night is over." He couldn't help thinking that leaving Vijaypur meant leaving the entire world, a world that he had accepted. It was shattering his heart, which he did not understand - were ghosts supposed to feel this much emotion? He doesn't want to go before the final match. He would like to hand over the championship trophy to the Vijaypur team. They weren't even a team to him anymore, they were his friends. How does it feel to start a task but fail to complete it at the end? To give hope and then take it away?

"Can't we find a way to stay for another day?" Kumo asked in a sad voice.

Hazabarala starts feeling concerned; he didn't think Kumo would have said such a thing."No, not possible at all. The Ghost King does not want you to stay on Earth. Football has become too obsessive! What is done cannot be undone. You can have the ball you requested, for the Ghost King has agreed. Now let's go back to our own kingdom!"

Kumo begins to feel an intense uneasiness. His stomach is in knots, he does not know why he is feeling the way he does. Ghosts never feel such feelings, but he is. He is also having a warm feeling for the Vijaypur Eleven players. This must be the affection of the humans Hazabarala had warned him of. When did it take a complete hold on him?

Hazabarala smiles a little, and then speaks as if he had read Kumo's heart. "You decide - would you like to stay on earth to compete for the Vijaypur Eleven champion trophy or return to the ghost kingdom? I warned you to be wary of human affection; it is an infectious little thing. Unfortunately it is too late, and I won't offer any suggestions. Consider what your mind desires and make your own decision. You have a few hours to think, so give it careful consideration. I'll sit here by your side if you wish, but before dawn comes, I'll be gone. Whether you choose to stay or return with me, the choice is irreversible." After saying this Hazabarala melted into the darkness. But Kumo knew he was there, and that he would wait, until he could stay no more.

Kumo loses himself in his thoughts. He does not know what to do or feel. There is such a strong feeling of love and warmth in his heart but also a feeling of emptiness. Should he go back to his father, his kingdom, and his beloved Hazabarala? But Rupam, Bijan and the entire Vijaypur Eleven's team were his family now too
Would he stay or leave? Why did this happen? Will he find happiness with either choice?

Kumo keeps pondering about his predicament and the sad state of his heart. Soon he feels Hazabarala's presence next to him once more, because now he could see the edge of the tangerine flames of the sun glazing into the sky, the same colours he had once hated. These colours now reminded him of his relationship to this earth. And so it was time for Kumo to make a decision.

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