In India cricket is more than a religion. Each and every one of us follows cricket since childhood. Childhood is bestowed with a lot of innocence and devoid of malice. A little piece of chocolate or cake, has the potential of bringing calories of joy and ecstasy. A ride with Father or a lullaby by Mom, gives abundance of serenity and tranquility. But, like every good thing (this one actually goes for bad things as well) even the joys of childhood are ephemeral.
I still remember, I was in class 3rd when I bought my first “branded” cricket bat (I was brand conscious since childhood!). We used to have a huge break for summers, break from school and more importantly from studies. Videogames and some indoor games were like life-line during the summer holidays. But cricket was always the first choice, the passion for cricket was almost like inexplicable and fanatic. It was cricket all day long. Even at times, when I was short of companions, I used to play with the wall. And even today I wonder, how fleet is the flight of imagination! I used to dream, while playing with the wall. It was as if I was playing against International professionals, in a suave location. Even if it was a scorching afternoon, cricket continued. Just like they say, “No matter what happens, the show must go on”.
It was a typical summer evening in bahraich; no electricity, ultra high temperature and people talking about topics they always talk about- Politics, Cricket, Poverty and Power-Cut. Bahraich without power cut in summers, is like New York without skyscrapers. Power cut has become such an integral part of daily life. The demand for a new piece of willow was finally granted by Mom. So, I went with Dad to buy my 1st “real” piece of willow. My Dad, has always been my super hero. There are some things money can’t buy and some things money can, and for both of them, I have my Dad. We went on a vehicle, that is the most memorable vehicle of my life so far- “My Dad’s scooter LML VESPA SELECT”. It may be a dead machine, if you take velocity, pickup, acceleration, halt time and other concepts of Physics into account. The machine also has a heavy diet of crude oil, that doesn’t help the financial causes at all. But still, I feel as if I am the most secured person in the whole world, when I sit at the back seat with Dad driving.
It took us approximately 15 mins to reach the shop or rather the “Sports Corner”. If you can drive from GHANTAGHAR TO PEEPAL-CHHORAHA with ease and comfort, then there may be two cases-
1: You can drive efficiently anywhere in the universe, even in the deepest corners of Hell!
2: Or you are addicted to hallucinogens, because then it can only be a Hallucination!
We went to the shop, I browsed for about half an hour, looking for a perfect bat. Then, I found one with the logo of MRF. I asked Dad, “Is it the same bat Sachin plays with??”……………..Dad gave me an affectionate smile and said, “Yes, wahi hain Sachin wala!”…………….Soon, Dad made the payment and we left for home. The bat also had a carry bag, that I kept for many years.
The bat was really everything for me. I used to take full care of it, and I used to show it to everyone. I demonstrated the bat to everyone in the neighborhood, actually to everyone I possibly could! Even if someone gave a mild appreciation, I used to be so happy. Even if someone said “accha hain”, it used to bring a huge smile on my face. To a certain extent, it was the “bat” that made me mingle with people I had never talked to in the past.
Just few days back, when I went back home I saw my bat lying in a corner, unnoticed in a moribund condition. About 40% of the willow has already been eaten by termites; it is no more than a piece of ordinary wood now! I took the bat in my hands, and it operated as a “Time Machine”, taking me back to my childhood. Really, it was an awesome experience. I sat, holding the bat in my hands for some time. Then suddenly some thoughts struck my mind. I am no more passionate about anything these days; actually I am no more passionate about anyone these days, forget about being passionate about Non-Living things. Now I wonder, how can a mere piece of willow drive me so crazy! I don’t find interest in things now, the joy, the innocence, the curiosity, everything has faded away. Is that what the world calls, “Maturity”! So, that means, finally I have become a “matured person!” If that is the case, then I must confess that it has taken the hell out of me. The bat made me talk and interact with people I had never mingled with. As I grew up, I gradually stopped interacting with the same people again. I guess vanity and arrogance creeps in with age, as you grow up. I stopped interacting, may be because those people belong to the lower strata of the society, may be because some of them are uneducated (with a lot of wisdom) or may be because I consider myself superior (I am an Aryan, after all!). I want to correct this, but something hampers me, may be the vanity is too “deep-rooted!”
I still thank my little piece of willow, for taking me into a different zone altogether. Even Non-Living things speak and speak Real Loud!