Borrowing from the rock band Queen, Unni Sir was  ‘ Dynamite with a Laser beam, guaranteed to blow your Mind!’

Wonder Years A person of comparatively small frame with an inbuilt, ‘explosive’ heart, Unni Sir usually steam-rolls into a Kazhakian’s life as he gets selected into school’s esteemed football team. While each one in the institution would get to watch the flying shrapnel and snigger, it is the football team members who are privileged to smell the burning gunpowder and the molten metal of the explosion.

Every day morning players would leave their bed, reach the Cadets’ Mess and stake their claim on the provisioned  tall glass of boiling hot milk for each one, with generous amount of sugar stirred into it and two raw eggs to be cracked open on the rim of the steel glass containing the frothing creamy milk, mixed and gulped down in one go as an energy generating potion.

And each day morning, in the first light while the sun is trying to emerge out from the hazy scenario of Chanthavila, Unni Sir, wearing his white leather shoes with semi-transparent off-white-rubber soles, in his signature white shorts and T-shirt, would arrive, briskly trotting in. The Unni Sir trot was a complex biological procedure that involved rhythmic, rapid, small steps, tapping his heels all the way up onto his seat on its way back, (with his folded elbows of the flexed arms presumably acting as  shock absorbers to the taps on the hind), while the entire shoulders would stretch out from side to side in tune with the taps on the rear and his generous, healthy belly seemingly acting as the prime mover for the entire operation of progressive propulsion of the body.

He would then take a stance facing the team fully in command, and thereafter to his obedient disciples he speaketh,

Eda footballinittu oru kick koduthal athangottu poliyanam” { Lads, your kicks ought to have the power to dismember the football and send it to kingdom come ! }

Simultaneously he would heave in the air, his open palm with stretched out fingers shivering, from the hip level up to his chest , to add special emphasis to his heartfelt statement. Thereafter would start the run towards the beach, with Unni Sir escorting the team on his bicycle and the subsequent conduct of regular practice session with the local club, before the march and shoot back to school, where footballers could catch up on the much needed rest and recoup amidst the academic chants that were usually meant for ‘Others’, and not the team members.

The Kazhakootam Beach
The Kazhakootam Beach

Many of you would recall deeply philosophical concepts like benzene and toluene, reflection and refraction, enzymes and chromosomes and many more such fascinating terms which were potential tranquilizers, at times, underlined by the salvo of foaming saliva from our dear Chemistry teacher. But as a grin-and-bear Kazhakian, you  just wipe off the wetness from your face and go back to your indispensable indulgence.But beware when Mr. Sharma gets after you relentlessly and mercilessly, seeking your plans of action on how to prove v2  is irrational ! “Irrational ?”  You want to scream back at him, “for the love of God, every single person sitting here is irrational!” Regardless, you are in thick shit, and you got to then report sick during the tea break and reach the one and only holiday home of the school – the MI Room to catch up on the ‘rest of the rest’.

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Unni Sir guaranteed each of the footballers two years of meaningful life with a sense of accomplishment and one which they could cherish for the rest of their life.

Overcoming challenges, his Warriors marched on and he lead them from the front even while negotiating the whirlpool of personal tragedies which life throws up regularly to make the journey increasingly interesting. He led us to a point where winning and losing ceased to matter and then led us on further, molding us into leading  life king size, and maybe end up as believers of karma.

I still remember :

What a Season it was. (4-0) for Kazhaks!

For all those who profess that footballers can’t apply their heads, all I say is , ” you have no idea buster, no f****** idea what you are speaking, at all. Try telling that to Tiwary, for starters”. And as the world shimmied their hips along with Shakira’s Waka Waka, I just couldn’t help but wish, if only Unni Sir was around.

Here is Waka Waka, if you are still wondering what exactly it is.

4 Responses

  1. Yes I cant agree more
    Unni sir had this wonderful knack of being
    A bigger shot infront of a big shot
    And a shade humbler infront of a humble commoner

    He was the che guevara of the institution
    Rebel who inspired

    1. When you examine history, you very often stumble against the classic line – when Gods walked amongst men. There are people who come into your life and, then, leave an impression that borders almost on respectful incredulity as the years go by. I am still thankful for the impression that Unni Sir made on and off the football field, goading kids to take up football and dream of being champions where giving up was an accepted norm in society. He created teams, not individuals and proved that the game was all heart and not just brawn. I cannot forget that day in the School Mess, observing that I wasn’t being enthusiastic at finishing my dinner, he sat right down beside me and fed me with his hand, making sure the dinner was dispatched to its rightful nook. A tear always wells up with the thought I have of him to this day. Adieu, Unni Sir – a God who played football amongst men.

    2. Though I was never anywhere close within kissin’/kickin’ distance of Unni Sir’s selection process and team, the spirit was infectious. He was like our own “Major John Reisman with his Dirty Dozen”! When Unni Sir was around, he was like caffeine, you just had to get your fix. Right from having our school football colors painfully replicated from Argentina’s world cup colors, it somehow instilled a sense of can-do spirit. And his abuses,maaa…n, his abuses, which his boys used to sit down and laugh their heart out…I realise that I’m choking up.Unni Sir was a phenomenon. And as Soni correctly surmised, a God who played football.

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