I am a 45 year old unemployed man. Sounds pathetic doesn’t it? It shouldn’t if you are an Indian resident. But in my case it is pathetic. I had all the facilities necessary to shine in any field I wanted to; a good father with, more importantly, a flourishing business, a doting mother and luckily no siblings as well. But I lacked the main ingredient: interest. I simply could not garner enough interest in any field of study. I ended up completing a bachelor’s degree in engineering (it was quite a prestige in those days, unlike the candy sale business it has become now) and after failing to sustain onto any decent job, I decided to pursue the only lining I could call silver in my clouded life, Cricket. I had always aspired to become a cricket writer having followed the game with fanatic craze because of one individual, Kapil Dev. But just as I plodded my feet into the journalistic muck, he announced his retirement. Well, the cricket fan in me died that day. I started living a life of total seclusion from outside world, inhibited by my own world of dreams where I was a famous sports critic interviewing the great Kapil Dev now and then, ridiculing the cricket body of India and even having my own radio show. More than 15 years passed in haze when I wasted my father’s money and my mother’s love. One sudden day Father decided that he had had enough with his good for nothing lad and sent me to help my uncle who ran a resort in Manali. That was when an unforgettable incident took place.
As I started my usual morning stroll through the resort lawn, I noticed a guy playing cricket with his 2 small sons at a quiet corner. He looked to be about 10 years younger than me, average height, balding and a little chubby. My curious looks towards their activity prompted an invitation from him to join them. After an enjoyable game of cricket where the 2 little devils didn’t allow either of the elders to bat we parted ways not before he had invited me to his suite for dinner that night.
He was watching a game of cricket on TV when I entered his suite. “So, even you are a cricket fan?” I asked as I took a seat.
“Yes, you could say that”, was his reply.
I decided to throw a few pointers at him to exemplify my person as a famous cricket writer as I felt it would do my battered ego some good.
“I was a cricket writer you know. And a famous one at that”, I stated emphatically.
“Oh really!! Then it is surely my pleasure to be acquainted with a great journalist”, he exclaimed.
“Actually I stopped writing about and following cricket after Kapil Dev retired. Must have been 20 years ago I guess”, my egomaniacal self went on. “There has been no other player worth following or even watching, though that young lad Tendulkar came close enough, he must be a great star today I guess.”
“Yes. He is bigger than Kapil in fact,” came the reply.
I shifted my gaze to the television screen.
“All these new players seem very amateur you know. That’s another reason I have stopped watching cricket”, I quipped quite enthusiastically.
“This match actually happened 10 years back”, he replied, his eyes fixed on the TV.
“Oh! But still they don’t seem very gifted. You see, though I don’t know anybody in the line up shown there on the TV, after watching them for such a short span I can easily come to the conclusion that they are simply influenced entrants into the big stage”, I said with a rather extravagant flourish.
I didn’t get any reply from my new friend so I continued to watch the game with him. That left hander seemed to have gone to the nineties…he was on 99 to be exact. I couldn’t hold my ego any more and started another rant.
“Now, for example take this lefty you are seeing. Does he have any footwork? Why, even Bishan Bedi moved his feet better, and he batted number 11 for
The lefty then got his all important single to reach triple figures. He was quite pumped and I heard the commentator say that it was his debut as well. As he acknowledged the crowd with his bat, his one hand went on to remove his helmet. I let out a terrified gasp as I got a clearer look at the left handed opener. I then turned to look at my new friend who had a knowing smile on his face. Both were the same person!!!