I have been visiting a friend who lives in an apartment
block close to my office.
As I walk down the driveway, in the basement to the lift,
I always smiled at the building kids playing cricket.
I remembered my house / tennis ball cricket.
No teams. Individual batsmen. Turns picked on lot.
Last to bat, first to bowl.
If the ball hits a window directly – out.
Runs only on leg side (offside for LHB).
3 overs per batsman maximum.
If the ball is lost, the batsman is liable.
Fast bowling not allowed.
One bounce-one hand catch – out (optional).
I remembered all this and smiled.
It was amazing. The carelessness. The worry free life.
The only major stress being how to extend daily playtime.
Then one fine day ‘30 & happy’ wrote on her childhood.
It was beautiful.
It made me look back long and hard at my childhood
and I was happy that remembered a lot of stuff.
Somehow I was kicked just because I could remember all of it. Clearly.
My fathers Seiko crystal alarm clock with a blue dial. Which I broke.
Putting the prayer room brocade for the Guru Granth Sahib on fire with agarbattis.
Setting a live snake bought from a charmer loose in class.
Watching my first porn movie.
Walking across our village fields in rains.
Milking a cow.
Watching the birth of a calf.
Waiting for my turn to bathe under the tubewell.
Falling off the school bus.
My mother crying because there wasn’t enough money in the house even to buy eggs.
Eating roti with daal, green chilies, salt and onions.
Getting an electric shock.
The 84 riots.
Zia – my standard one classmate from Bombay Scottish.
My horrendous yellow baby dresses with Mickey, Minnie and Donald.
I remembered all of this and a whole lot more.
I was damm kicked. Trust me.
And I silently thanked ‘30 & happy’
for making me think. There are these memories
that need to be re-lived. And thought over.
And ‘happy’, you made me do it. Thank you.
I realized I never wanted to grow up.
Because childhood is the only phase of your life,
where you cannot be judged. You do what you want,
and get loved for it.
But the kids at the building, well,
I couldn’t get the cricket out of my head.
My thinking had made me cry out for a time machine.
I wish I could jump into one and race back
to my standard 6 days in New Delhi.
Every time I watched them play, it hurt.
It hurt that I was not doing it everyday anymore.
I didn’t have the time. Couldn’t.
But I was surprised how much I wanted to.
Could I, still?
But the thinking had made me remember.
The elder kids coming in to play.
The father returning from work wanting to pelt a few shots.
The casual bond, that is ever so easy to create with a kid.
All it takes is a smile and some genuine affection.
So as I was walking out of the building, today evening
I asked them politely if I could play a few shots.
They said sure. And I took the bat.
I was out first ball. Clean bowled.
I threw a tantrum. I wanted another chance.
There were a few voices of dissent but I had my way.
If it was childhood I was visiting I would do the whole deal.
And I got my second chance.
And scored 37 runs. Glory being cut short by a brilliant catch.
I said thank you, shook hands with all of them and walked out.
I was so happy this evening. And honestly, despite all kicks
about my rock solid memory, I cannot remember when
was the last time I was so happy.
As I touched the main road I felt a tear in my eye.
I wiped it off before it could trickle down.
I was happy with the child in me. He was alive and kicking.