The last day after playing Frisbee, in the sharing all of them (class 5-12) said only “achha laga”. Except Sunil*, a class 5 kid who said that Manoj* pushed him during the game and he got angry. But he has not pushed him/her back, I clearly remember. And that’s why Frisbee holds immense importance in our lives because of its spirit. It is one of the principle rules of frisbee – “Do not give as you may have got”.
Why practicing Frisbee is needed in my village Jher?
A youth from the village said “Madam you do not know the villagers are worse when they drink. They loot, they molest and they drink most of the time”. So many others tell me the same several times. It is saddening how my kids (irrespective of gender) react whenever they get angry. Their words of assault keep disturbing me. During a verbal conflict, once a kid told “We will tear him apart” in my presence. The habit of over consumption of alcohol, guthkha, tambaku, child marriage, low literacy level, violent behavior is all I have heard about my village Jher, here in Kotra block of south Rajashtan. There are stories that has yet to be told and to be created. And that is why I tried to pen down my experience so far as a non-player to player.
It was after one of those weekly meetings we have at our field office when I have first witnessed all the fellows playing with a disc. This game is mostly known as Frisbee. It never came to me as a choice till then. We used to play every morning from that day before going to school. Yes, it was surprising for my mother as she gets to know I am playing any game that includes throwing. It has been a first, like many other things in the fellowship journey so far. I always avoided throwing anything as I could never catch. It is not like I have never tried. But there was no urge to get over the awkwardness. If I throw something, it always went to some other direction from that I intended. So, waking up early morning to go for a game that includes throwing that needs a lot of internal pushing has been a big deal.
In my school Jher, the scenario is different. They talk about Stephen (India Fellow who was placed in the same school in the previous year) and Frisbee all the time. Their throws are impressive and catches are mind blowing. ‘They’ refers to a group of boys who still take part in playing. But there is lot of chaos and fight around it. The kids did not get the chance to play it even when there are many kids who play well. Never seen a girl playing before 19th of December, 2018. Whereas it is one of the rules of Ultimate Frisbee, that, there should be at least 3 girls in a team of 10 players. But the absence of girls from the scene worried me. The reason could be the comments passed by the uninvited spectators sitting on the broken boundary wall. The girls who cut and carry branches (for fuel) from the top of the hills, who share work in agricultural field along with daily chores are physically capable of playing any game. It is just that they do not get the safe space to think and act freely. I remember during my stay at Mala’s* place, she once told that “Didi, tu kuch nahi jaanti, shaadi ho jayega toh padhaai kaun karayega re!” and she laughed at me and added, “Kaam karvayega”.
I know Raveena* always the shy kid, smiling at everything. If you ask her any question, she mostly keeps staring downwards. For the last two days I have been seeing a new version of Raveena who is flying more than the disc. She still only smiles at simple instructions that are not humourous at all! 😊 Mala, Sima, Kajal, Raeena, Hina- new names are looking for a childhood that is free of taking care of the household.
Sharvan is one of the naughtiest boys in my school. I have always seen him beating others. The increase in tolerance of peers’ idea is prevalent for last 2 days. It is not that he has just started playing. He has started taking the responsibility in maintaining mutual respect in the teams. But the facilitator Sarwagya, Burhan kept reminding the kids the spirit of the game, i.e., group co-ordination, encouraging and appreciating each other. Frisbee relies on mutual respect among competitors. And it is one of the reasons I love this game.
Sometimes I think a lot before sharing my opinion in a group, not to get embarrassed! Majority of my kids do not say anything but “Hau (Accha) Lage!” But there are few who have just started sharing their moment of shame, humiliation and anger in words. Though many kids leave and stay away from the spirit circle still. The everyday talk in spirit circle could be documented and I can present a growth chart after a year i think!
A body of work is pending and efforts need to be taken when we will have a fair share of girls and boys in the team, when we will play in coordination without a referee, without any probing to speak in the crowd (spirit circle). We are for now, practicing the most important trait of Frisbee – respecting each other, controlling the adrenaline rush, encouraging each other and wait till we can count 1 to 100 at a go without dropping disc and passing it to everybody present in that circle.
This game has been playing a magnificent role in my life. I wake up early morning to play Frisbee because I want to be skilled in it. Because for me it is not a way of passing time anymore; nor is it for my kids anymore.
Consider the movements of my limbs as wings
It used to get scared of flying, now it dreams
It speaks a lot without any words
It speaks about my journey so far
That you missed while looking at the sunset.
Once I used to keep silent in the crowd
I am taking off all the invisible pins stuck in my lips one by one
Even after knowing you will judge me anyhow.
I still wait for getting scolded
To change how I am looking at things
And to have a realisation.
But this time I am trying to practice a self-organised learning
Without a referee in the field.
My temperament does not match the game I was playing so long
Now I am learning the notes and the spirit of the song!
* Names changed to protect identity