The Alien Within
During the winter months, weekday-hurling practice took place in the school yard. It took too long to get to Dolphins's’Barn and by the time the players arrived it would have been too dark to play. Dolphin’s Barn was where the school had its playing fields. To get the fields the boys took a bus from school and in the winter months by the time the bus arrived it would already have been getting dark.
‘ The Jar’, as the boys affectionately called their hurling coach, was determined that this was the year they were going to ‘Croker’. Croker was the abbreviation for Croke Park, a pitch on which every Irish boy dreamed of playing the way an English boy might think of Wembley stadium or an American who dreams of playing in the Super Bowl. Everyone was encouraged to join the practice that afternoon after school as ‘the Jar’ was on the look out for new talent.
The school yard was filled with the noise of over forty 11-year old boys looking for a place on the team that was headed for glory. Each boy was told to ask their mothers for old nylon stockings, and as part of their homework they were to make sliotars for the practice. A sliotar is the leather ball used in hurling somewhat like a cricket ball with the stitched seam protruding. Regular sliotars wouldn’t last any time on the concrete and would be torn to pieces in minutes.
The boys were divided into two teams and the match began. The atmosphere was electric as the nylon ball whizzed from one hurley stick to the next. The sounds that dominated were the scraping of the metal band of the hurleys against the concrete and the clash of the ash as all the skills taught by ‘The Jar’ in class were now being put into action. Hurley sticks were made of ash because of the spring in the wood making them harder to break and minimised vibration when the hard sliotar was struck. As it got darker sparks could be seen as the metal bands hit the concrete floor and the boys played for all they were worth.
Amir was a newcomer and by the way he was playing there was no doubt that he would be selected for the team. He had listened well to all ‘the Jar’ had taught them about the game and he was ‘a natural’. Playing well was effortless and he enjoyed excelling at something for once in his life that he didn’t have to try so hard at.
As Amir cleared the nylon ball again away from his goal he noticed out of the corner of his eye a familiar figure. It was Brother O’Sullivan who had been his teacher in second class but had since been transferred to another school. Perhaps he came back to say hello to his pals in the monastery and see how his old pupils were doing, thought Amirl. Expecting a word of praise from the Kerry man for his brilliant clearance Amir turned to face him. Brother O’Sullivan just laughed. “Fancy a Paki playing hurling. Now I’ve seen it all”, he said.
Practice ended as usual and ‘the Jar’ could never understand why Amir never showed up again for practice.
The Brother’s remark left a mark on Amir’s heart a mark that would affect him for the rest of his life. This was a man who had taught him for a year and had never even hinted that he saw him differently to the other boys. It was terribly confusing and it made Amir feel different, unwanted and instead of feeling part of the group he now felt himself a person barely tolerated and he was different. He felt humiliated and decided never to give anyone an opportunity to do this to him again. He would not try to be part of their world again.
The Power of Words
I heard once a very nice piece of advice but can’t remember where I heard it:
“If what you have to say does not improve on the silence then keep it to yourself.”
Our tongues can do more damage than a loaded pistol so be careful where you aim your mouth!
Please take the time to view this very powerful 2 minute video below to illustrate the power of words. Thank you.
Link to related article by spirit Whisperer
- The Artist Within
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