‘Anyone who is an East Bengal fan is always right!’
—Ravindran Sriramachandran, Asoka University
During my childhood, I remember a very quiet man from Calcutta who twice visited our Railway Colony apartment in Assam. He was a relation of father’s, and I called him uncle. But I do not remember his name or other details. My only memory of him is his lying in bed, reading the newspaper. Despite being a talkative and inquisitive kid, I hesitated speaking to him. But his strange, fleeting presence persists in my mind, because on both his visits he gifted me a football.
The first one he got me was black and white in colour. I don’t remember much about it. Except that I triumphantly took it to my friends in the neighbourhood, and we played with it every evening, as it slowly lost colour. Only after the leather got torn at too many places did we finally abandon it. I remember the second one better. Not only because I was more grown up by then, but for the ball’s...