March 17, 2006

Cricket and The Cousin

He put the bag on his shoulders and looked at his Mom. She extended her hand and he took it with pleasure. Unlike most kids, he enjoyed going to school. Though he would never turn out to be an extrovert, it was always nice to have company, especially of people his own age. They walked for some time and she left him at the grand door of learning, the grandest in the neighbourhood. She never knew it then that he would end up studying more than she ever did, and even if she did, she wouldn't have cared. She had more important things on her mind, like what should be made for Lunch, what should grandpa wear to office and so on and so forth.

He also had a cousin who stayed with him. He was just about an year elder to him, though unlike him, he was always the forebearer of trouble. His cousin couldn't paint, or count or write or read as well as him but he could stand up all night talking about silly stuff to people. The two of them got around well, though they fought every now and then over everything, but they really liked each other around, like young boys always do.

One evening, both of them went out to play, to the ground, where some boys roughly thier age were standing. He found the biggest guy he could see and told him that he wanted to play cricket. The big boy, in the short brown pants asked him if he knew any player in the Indian cricket team. He thought a lot and came up with two names, Kapil Dev and Sunil Gavaskar. The boy smiled and said that he could join his team, and the cousin would be in the other team. He smiled too thinking that he had finally cleared his interview and earned his place in the team, on his first day. If he had known then that the boy would die before he was fourteen, he would have cried. But that was ten years hence from then and he didn't feel a thing. The other team won the match, thanks to his cousin, but he learned to hold the bat. It was his cousin like always who taught him how to do it. That was his first day into the religion of cricket, the national passtime.

Cricket was always over-emphasized in India. Even though people never encouraged thier kids to give up studies and spend time to be learn how to be a cricketer, to learn the art of the game, but millions of people, with or without the means to earn a living for themselves or thier family, love it as much as human compassion for a sport can allow. The big wastage of time that it causes maybe a cause for concern for the management everywhere, but they love it none-the-less. It would have been nice if it had been some other sport, less time consuming, more popular in the rest of the world, but now it doesn't matter, it is here now, and probably will be till the rest of his life.

Soon they were home and he got the good news that Dad was coming home again, this time for a really long time. He could sense that his mom was happy too, like he always did, for she always made Makhni Dal at times like that, which he liked immensly. They say that food becomes tastier when you put your heart into making it, and she surely did. Later that day she told him that they would be leaving Delhi soon. He was surprised, for he never thought that they could go away and stay at some other place. Suddenly it all became clear to him.