Asia Cup 2009


“What are your thoughts on Ms. Sabarwal and Ms. Chautala’s partnership on the field today? They seem to have formed quite an inexplicable bond since the 2006 world cup,” one of the curious reporters asked because, after all, the whole world had witnessed the not-so-subtle rivalry between the two forwards back then.

“Those two are attached at the hips now, still competitive as ever but their inexplicable chemistry and understanding of the game is what leads us to a 4-0 win, obvious credits to our amazing team captain there too,” from being the jealous and egoistic player, Bindiya had come a long way as an idol figure for the team too.

“Komal, You shouldn’t be downing this many shots, your small body can’t keep up,” even though she said it with some bite, the smile never faltered from the taller girl’s face.

“Huh! As if that has ever been a problem. Wait till you are drunk and I have to carry your tall ass back to our room, Ms. Chandigarh,” the Haryana captain knew that the other couldn’t stomach or control her alcohol and would definitely be too drunk.

“Please! Forgot the time I had to convince you you couldn’t fly from jumping off the bar counter,” huffed Preeti.

“That was one time and,” someone cut Komal off from finishing her sentence.

“Um, hey, would you perhaps want to dance,” a Thai girl asked Preeti.

“Oh um, not…I don’t…I am not in a mood for dance, thank you,” to say the Indian forward was quite flustered from the sudden approach would be an understatement.

“Would you let me buy you a drink instead then,” the local sounded hopeful and Komal had to give her props for trying even though this was making her feel a bit weird.

“Um, no. Thanks for the offer but I am good,” with a smile Preeti dragged Komal towards the other end of the club.

“That was interesting,” concluded Komal, being amused even though something about that didn’t sit right with her.

“ was.. something,” came the response from a flushed and relieved Preeti.

“I mean, you do look hot in your dress,” joked the shorter player. ‘Calm down, girl! She doesn’t need to know about your crush right now.’

“Thanks. I am just overwhelmed I guess,” Preeti still seemed a bit off.

“Understandable, Preeti. It’s overwhelming,” comforted Komal.

“It’s just I…,” Preeti was about to have an internal panic.

“Hey, it’s okay, Preeti. It’s okay. Let’s get back to the hotel,” internally Komal was freaking out “Wait, is Preeti homophobic? Will she hate me when she finds out? Oh my god!”

“Okay, let’s go,” before Komal could get lost in her thoughts, Preeti pulled her out of her trance with a tug to the loose sleeves of her shirt.

Once the team returned from their night out, everyone fell asleep pretty much as soon as they hit their rooms. Except, Komal couldn’t help but fidget around without much sleep. She thought Preeti had some idea by now but she was clearly wrong. Seems like watching another girl ask Preeti out made her feel a whirlpool of emotions she’s not sure how to explain. Was she jealous or was she ashamed or was she angry? She didn’t know.

Komal tried avoiding interactions with Preeti as much as she could the next day at training. Preeti noticed it right from the start but thought Komal just needed some space though she would have appreciated Komal talking to her about this without shutting her off. But as the day continued, Preeti was sure something was very off. Komal was particularly avoiding her only and she didn’t know what she had done to cause her best friend to be this upset with her. “Did I do something stupid while I was drunk?”

Komal made it through training but ignoring Preeti while in the room would have been impossible. So, she switched rooms for the day with Mary. If the training session wasn’t any indication, this definitely had Preeti spooked.

Next day, team India kept the ball under their control as usual. Gunjan passes it to Komal, who keeps her eyes on the ball and dodges two of the opposition’s defenders to score a goal. Even though the team’s celebrating, Preeti knows Komal could have passed the ball to her without risking a chance, that definitely hurts her a bit. Preeti scores the next goal and with that 2-0 win India enters the finals.

After the match, Preeti’s determined to confront Komal about this. “What did I do?” With that intention, she makes a direct beeline towards their room, knowing that Komal would have to show up at the room now to collect a change of clothes at least. By the time Preeti’s done changing, Komal still hasn’t come up to the room. It definitely worries her a little but she chalks it up to the fact that Komal might be chatting with the team. “She wouldn’t be so hell bound on ignoring me, right?”

Meanwhile, Komal’s joking around about the defensive stance of the opposition players in an attempt to avoid returning to her room before Preeti’s asleep.

A text from an unknown number brings Preeti’s attention back to the world. Upon seeing the name of the sender, Preeti wanted to block him right away. “How did he manage to get my number again?!” Preeti asked him to not text her for what felt like the thousandth time. Abhimanyu just didn’t know how to take a no. Sensing that Abhimanyu isn’t likely to stop annoying her and Komal might not be returning anytime soon, she agrees to meet him at the team hotel cafe.

As much as Komal wanted to avoid facing Preeti right now, she had worked up an appetite and needed some food. Usually, she would have been served her lunch by now through room service. Aliya and Mary were heading towards the cafe when they found Komal strolling around it.

“I am so sorry for being how arrogant and ignorant I was. I should have never underestimated your career and your game. Can you give me one last chance, please,” pretty much begged the Cricket player.

Preeti was well aware of his tactics by now. “Abhimanyu, you know the answer to that question as well as I do that I won’t marry you. When will you stop bothering with these phone calls, you have been at it for a month!!”

Meanwhile, outside the trio of hockey players decide to get some coffee and snacks from the cafe and when they enter the cafe, they can clearly hear Mr. Cricket captain’s loud voice, “Oh for fuck’s sake, Preeti. It’s been years and I have apologized multiple times and I even made it to team captain. Why won’t you just marry me,” almost shrieked Abhimanyu.

“Because she doesn’t want to and you don’t deserve her,” came Komal’s stern voice.

Abhimanyu cursed under his breath and turned around to see three of Preeti’s teammates were now surrounding their table.

“If you don’t mind, Preeti and I were discussing something important here,” Abhimanyu tries telling them off.

“No, we are not discussing anything. This discussion was over long before it even started,” Preeti leaves no room for argument there.

“Come on, Preeti. Think about it, we can work it out,” he tried to grab Preeti’s hand as she was getting out of her seat.

Komal noticed his movement first and pushed him down back on his seat, “Don’t you dare put your hands on her, Mister.”

At this point, Abhimanyu had started losing it. He thought he would be able to make Preeti see his way of life and get her to agree but these teammates weren’t letting him. “Or else what, you are not even half my size. How did you even make it to the team?”

“She made it to the team because she’s a great player and has good sportsmanship. Sportsmanship Abhimanyu, rings a bell? Something that you don’t have. Harassing a girl even after she has clearly told you no, how would that be for your public image, huh?” Preeti knew from the moment she saw the text that this guy wasn’t about to change. “They definitely wouldn’t like the video footage of today’s event when it’s released to the media.”Preeti had inquired about the restaurant’s security system and requested CCTV footage of her table and an additional mic somewhere around her table.

“Okay, okay. Fine, I won’t bother you anymore. But you will regret this, Preeti,” his arrogance was uncanny.

“We will see,” came Preeti’s only reply. With that Abhimanyu left the cafe.

As she was leaving Aliya asked Preeti, “Since when was this douchebag annoying you, Preeti?”

“For a month now.”

“You could have shared this with us, Preeti,” Komal wasn’t sure how she felt about her best friend hiding this.

Sensing Komal’s guilt the taller girl tried to reassure her, “I just didn’t want to worry anyone and I had it covered anyways.”

“But next time you have to let us in, Preeti, this team’s a family,” Mary had long gotten over her struggles with being called a guest in her own country and very much felt welcomed by the team now.

“Of course,” Preeti smiled at her friend but noticing that Komal was still distant, she was determined to talk about it. “Hey, Komal can we go back to the room? I need to rest after today’s events.”

Komal knew she couldn’t avoid going to the room now. “Yeah, sure. Let’s go,” she tried to smile.

Once they reached the room Preeti jumped to the cut, “So why are you avoiding me like the plague, huh,” her voice took a softer tone. “Did I do something?” Preeti couldn’t think of other reasons for Komal to avoid her like this.

“Uh…No…not you. It’s just I am a bit stuck in my head,” she tried playing it off to the best of her ability.

“Uh-uh, you have definitely been avoiding me. I don’t know what I did but I am really sorry,” she really wasn’t enjoying being avoided by the one person who actually paid attention to her.

Komal didn’t know what to say, she knew even if she lied Preeti would know and she couldn’t tell her the truth,

“Come on, Komal,” exclaimed Preeti. “Respond!”

“Fine! I have been trying to avoid you because I am trying to process how to be around my best friend who’s apparently homophobic and whom I have a crush on,” the shorter hair girl almost shouted the words out.

This wasn’t what Preeti was expecting. “Wait, what? I am not…You what…I am not homophobic,” she wasn’t sure if she should laugh at the hilariousness or be mad at it.

That broke Komal out of her internal panic, “Wait, you are not?”

Preeti could only laugh, “What made you think I would be homophobic, Chautala?”

“Ohhh,” now that she knew Preeti wasn’t homophobic she felt more at peace. “I don’t know, you just seemed so shook when that girl asked you out that I…I am sorry, Preeti.” She felt awful for avoiding the girl for a stupid misunderstanding.

“Uh..about that. Well, um, you might not be the only one with a crush on their best friend,” she couldn’t believe this was actually happening.

Komal likes me was the thought in her head.


“You duffer, I was not uncomfortable because I am homophobic, I was uncomfortable because that just… that just made me realize how easy it is to ask someone out and I couldn’t bring myself to do it for years.” Preeti wanted to be mad at Komal for ever thinking she would go as low as being homophobic but she really couldn’t focus on that right now. “I like you, Komal. Heck, I love you. And I have known it for a year now and I still couldn’t get myself to ask you out.”

Komal felt like she was hallucinating or she was just very exhausted after the game. “Wait, like me?”

“IS IT REALLY SURPRISING?” she thought to herself. “I love you, Komal. I just wasn’t sure how to tell you.”

Sigh, “Wow.”

First Published
First and Multidimensional Queer Women’s Collective of Bangladesh

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