Friday, June 10, 2016

A Sixer - A Shot


First ball of the Cricket match, the bowler ran long on the mud pitch. The ten year old batsman, popular hitter, [A boundary or Sixer shot is what is termed hitting, perhaps in the cricket-pedia] waited steady with bat held tight in hands  for first ball. A full swing, full motion, what a sweep and yes! He had hit!! How's That!!

There were loud noises all around, most boys fled, some towards him and some ran hither and thither. There was more of a commotion there. The boys had been playing in open ground with boundaries stretching on to the roads connecting to local residences.The ball was not the lucky one to be kissed hard and sent for a tour in the open stadium , call it sixer. The unlucky one was a limping old man who emerged out from no where and was knocked out by the batsman in full swing. In the ears of the astonished boy rang not loud applauds but the moaning grunt of the old grumpy man. Old man was attended well by the boys until he managed to reach home. But what about the batsman?  Needless to say, he had fled with heart in his mouth. 

The unity among the boys protected the true act of honour of the boy. The hitter had made a big but the wrong hit. Alas. Few days and  his friends updated him on the old man's health. Each time his friends took turns to go to his house & inform him pieces of news, the boy's nightmares found different horrific stories. "No chance, old man is not out of bed, bhai yeh tho gaya, iska ticket ho gaya".

It was that cursed evening when a friend came puffing and panting into the boy's house and in bated breath narrated his news in bits of words. Half eaten sentences. But the boy got the point. 
The old man was dead. 

Because the hit was on the head, and remember it was a hitting-shot. So the time had come for confession. The boy gathering all his guts revealed the story to his father. His father listened to him as he chewed his paan, spitting in between and also smiling now and then. Boy's nerves were calming down upon confiding and realizing that the father understood him and would make all efforts to help him. It was not intentional after all. It was a mistake. Boys were just playing. Soon came the shock instead. 

"Alright, now you can continue to play cricket-but carefully.  As for the old man, he is hale hearty and fine"- told his father.
So the nightmare had to end. Pals played notorious prank on the poor boy including his dad in the melodrama. Like the railway engine that halts moments later after you pull the chain, all the feverish pains of the boy were more jolted and his nerves did not soothe or agree to his ears, or the brain that was manipulating the information received. Few anxious days spent speculating excuses out of false alarm of an unintentional murder he had supposedly committed, seemed to hook on to him. The pain dint budge into a laughter in spite of continual convincing from pals and father. Boy felt itchy. Brains took time to waive off the fear to replace and believe real truth. Truth had changed for him, yet so hard to believe. The old man was not dead.

Zor ka jhatka haaye dheere se lagaa.

I would sing this number if I were there then instead of today. That boy, today my man, narrated this, 12 years after married life first time. After ages I enjoyed the popular tonic ROFL, rolling on the carpet holding tight onto my tummy and laughing like a child. I enjoyed. Once  a devilish laugh, once softly, once muffling. Discovering a secret of his childhood that had  frightened him to hide under his skin, proclaim a self exile, or may be to vanish like a puff of smoke of Aladdin's lamp. I really had to admit how on earth did he not mention it to me all these years. 

Those golden days where kids played on the roads and the open grounds is definitely a rare scene today. Gone are the days when family played cricket on streets, shared little giggles and laughter. Broke neighbour's window but ended up making friends with them. We now have sophisticated grounds. Yes it is more disciplined and safe. Today we sit on our expensive couch and watch IPL on television. Also our kids enjoy this.  
But those little fun moments definitely are left out in those open grounds.