Rewind back, it is 5 a.m. on a December Sunday morning in 1995. It 's dark and chilly outside. There is no power and it's very quiet. Still in bed, I turn to my right and look out of the window, here's thick fog and the smell from the raat ki raani(night queen) is intoxicating. Buried under a layer of quilts , my eyes open , I synch my empty thoughts with the tick-tock of the clock. Don't have to wait much as I see a bunch of boys slowly appearing out of the fog. Covered in V-Neck sweaters ,monkey caps and mufflers, the boys could have scared the shit out of anyone at that time of the day ,only if they were a little bigger, nevermind the age.
A sunday morning is always good for a cricket match but it's not that easy. The pitch is in tatters and there's weed all around the slip area. The field wasn't used for long after the monsoons because of the water logging and today we have a match, before which, we must repair the pitch, clear the weed and then arrange for a new ball. A new ball, well, when you are only twelve and you get a pocket money of Rs 10 every week or sometimes not even a penny, it is one of the toughest real-world problems on the table. Inspite of that, we'd have a new Vicky cork ball and the field ready by 8 in the morning.
How we did it?? God knows really! maybe we only spent on chewing gums and saved for the ball , or maybe, collected the change strewn around on the dressing table and in the drawer in the study.
Chewing gums, err, ...1992 world cup, it's a faint memory though, I remember how we were totally in awe of the Australians, and that wasn't because they played kickass cricket, but because they Chewed! They bloody had an attitude and how they showed it- with their tireless jaws, all of them, grinding their teeth in a unique badass demeanour . So one fine day, we decided we're not gonna play a single match if we didn't have a stock of chewing gums that'd last through the match or atleast when we fielded!
Anyway, chewing gums and Jonty Rohdes made fielding very glamorous, So what happened after that flying Jonty stunt? Bruised arms and knees, Band-Aid on the elbows , and lots of crepe bandages around the ankles and wrists. That didn't deter us from making an easy catch look spectacular and from lofting the ball in the air, as if we had a full stadium. I'd be lying if I said the batsmen amongst us did not try and nick the ball just to see if it carried to the keeper, just like how the pros would get out on TV. That's another thing, with our pace, the ball would hardly carry to the keeper without bouncing atleast thrice.
6 in the evening and it's almost closing time. Tired and hungry we lie on the grass, staring at the dark evening sky, we hardly speak. As the sky gets
darker, the highlights of the day flash across our eyes , like a movie we're all watching together. There's another sunday gone.