World Cup is Over: Life returns to Normal

‘Football ine fini, la vie retourne normal astere’ – this is what I overheard from a group of walkers that I crossed at Trou-O-Cerfs on last Tuesday morning.

The morning after, as it were, of the month-long high on which football fanatics the world over, numbering in hundreds of millions, had been riding. It culminated in the well-deserved win of Germany over Argentina which, I think, was not less meritorious but everyone is agreed that the German team excelled in technique. Still, they had to slog it out until the second half of prolongation time to score that single goal that won them the title and allowed them to take home, to the welcoming cheers of a sea of excited fans, the coveted trophy.

At the crater, that the World Cup was on was evident from the paucity of walkers during the period the contest was being fought, given the lateness of the timings for the game broadcast on the television. Most of the matches started around midnight, and it is only the real fanatics who stayed up to watch. Some, like my dear brother-in-law, took a little nap after an early dinner and set the alarm so as to get up on time and follow the game. I do not belong to that category, and like several others with whom stories about the event were shared, I saw a few of the matches that were playing at a more decent time locally.

However, as I listened to the practically daily discussions about the happenings on the pitch, I allowed myself to be taken in by some of the growing excitement. As a result, I decided not to miss the final trial, and duly sat up from about 11 pm on last Sunday night. Yes, it was definitely worth watching. I sympathized with the young Argentinian boy whose tearful face was captured and shown on screen, as well as with the young lady supporters who were equally crestfallen when the 22-year old Grotze shot the winning goal. It was clear then that the game was over and the winner already known. Now the four-year wait until the next World Cup has begun after this glorious finale.

However, there was a counterpoint to this glory: the behaviour of some of the Brazilian spectators after Brazil’s defeat first by Germany, and next by Holland. They proved to be poor losers, going as they did on rampage, vandalizing public property, burning vehicles, and looting shops. Well, it’s their own, the people’s assets that they were destroying in their blind madness. And who will pay for repair to the public damage but taxpayers’ money, their own that is!

My own direct connect with football – if it may be called so – ended practically in my early adolescent years, when the bunch of us cousins, all of ten boys and girls, used to play barefoot in the ground where Dhunputh Lallah SSS now stands, at Farquhar Street in Curepipe Road. And I have a potent remembrance of those days in the form of a big, bleeding gash on the inside of my right heel.

I was about to hit the ball, with a conviction that I was going to score a goal. I kicked it with the inside of my right foot, as hard as I could. As I did so and the ball lifted, my foot went straight at a sharp stone against which the ball had stopped. I could not see it because of grass that surrounded it, and it took but seconds to realise that something rather serious had happened. I do not recall feeling a great amount of pain (and now I know the reason why, but I will not go into these details); I was stopped in my track and stood there with the heel bleeding, and a chunky piece of flesh opened out.

I was helped up and supporting myself on the shoulders of my older cousins I hobbled home. My father was quite a man-about-the-house, and in those days when going to hospital or a dispensary was not the immediate recourse, he set about to deal with the injury. There was always a flacon of the antiseptic Dettol in the house, with some sundry stuff for doing dressings when needed. I rather liked the faint aromatic smell of Dettol, a few drops of which in water made the latter turn milky. After seating me comfortably, my father lifted my foot into his lap and used that solution to clean around the wound and then the wound itself, which was about two inches long.

Of course then I had some pain – but with the stern look that I was receiving, common in those days of strict disciplining of kids, there was no question of crying. And of course I had to show some manliness in the presence of my older sister and my cousin-sisters who had formed a circle around me, eagerly observing the proceedings as it were. My father was quite adept at doing these kinds of things, and soon he had finished cleaning the wound with cotton soaked in the diluted Dettol solution, and dabbed it leaving a piece of cotton there.

He then proceeded to crush into powder some la rezine, which was a chunk of amber-coloured crystal. Next this was applied to the raw wound over which the flap of skin was laid back and held in place by a bandage. It was about a week later that this was taken off, leaving a wound that was clean and healing nicely. I have no scar to show there – here, I have taken a look at my now aged foot to confirm that this is in fact the case: it is!

I think the explanation is that because I was young at the time of the injury, the wound had healed perfectly. However, as I grew up, the skin of the heel gradually grew to its normal size, which as anyone can see for themselves means thicker than the skin in the rest of the foot and in the hand. So any scarring that was present in my then tender skin, which was not much because there was no stitching done and therefore no sutures (which leave scars) to remove, was in due course replaced or grown over by normal skin cells. Voilà!

I played some football during my Boy Scout and secondary school days at RCC for a couple of years, and also some volleyball then, but no, I am not the sporting type. However, I did see a number of football matches later with family and friends, and have watched a friendly match between AC Milan and Man U at the Giants stadium in New York. On the other hand, as an orthopaedic surgeon, I have had the opportunity to treat several footballers injured on the field, and quite regularly Shyam Oodunt, well-known local ex-footballer, updates us fellow-walkers on the latest news. I am happy to listen…

* Published in print edition on 18 July 2014

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