Wednesday, November 5, 2008



K. Satchidanandan

I, Zinedine Zidane,
the stranger you feel like stabbing
as the French sun dazzles you (1),
one with a different face and a different build
still hoping in vain to be
one among you,
one who drank molten steel to
cultivate his muscles so that
you might love him
one who ran along sharp-pointed nails
to grow nimble of foot,
sharpened his Algerian gaze
looking for stars yet to rise ( 2)
and his brain by grinding it
on French’s whet-stone and
rasping it with Arabic’s file.

I was shown the red card long ago:
during my disgraceful childhood in that
squalid suburb of Marseille (3)
and my rebellious adolescence.

Pardon me if for eight seconds
the raging blood of my wounded race
hunted down from New York to Gujarat
rushed into my head I bow only for namaz
Pardon me if the tears of my
acid-soaked motherland rose like a
tidal wave to engulf the venomous
heart of my public abuser
Pardon, for having infused for eight seconds
the illusion of the playground with
the bitterness of reality,
for having subverted the soft rule of
the game with the harsh rule of life.

There were no spectators before me,
no cameras : only the wrinkled face
of my mother, all mothers, in exile;
only the last chance history gave me
to avenge every disgraced being on earth
by a single bloodless gesture.

That, pardon me children,
Was Zinedine Zidane’s final header,
his last goal.

(1)Remember Albert Camus’s The Outsider.
(2) Zidane was born to Algerian immigrants.
(3) He grew up in La Castellane, a suburb of marseille in Southern France.

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