My alarm clock was still sleeping this morning when I woke up suddenly from the sound of a broken glass. I ran up to the window to see what had happened. Luckily, it was not my apartment but the one that of old couple who lived on the first floor, just under my apartment.
It was not the first time that this had happened. It was kind of a weekend routine. Being working full time, or rather more than full time, I used to wake up late on Sundays. While the kids from the locality would start their day as early as seven in the morning. There wasn’t much space in front of our apartments but the two buildings facing each other had provided with an ample amount of pitch for the kids. The start of the ‘gully’ cricket would be slow, but as the game would intensify, one could easily hear the loud voices of nearly all the kids.
Every now and then someone will hit the ball in an apartment considering it was not a big ground but just a street with apartments on both sides. In particular, the ball had again gone to the wrong house today. And to top it up, the windowpane was shattered to pieces.
‘I will not leave you kids today. Who hit the shot and broke my window? Tell me, I will ask your father to pay for the repair this time”, Ms. Patel came out on the road frowning as it was not just once that the ball had hit the window of her apartment.
All the kids were aware of what was going to happen, and they were already hiding behind whatever they could find. Amit was behind Sharma ji’s car with his bat and was making sure he remained unnoticed as the shot had gone from his end. Ankit was hiding behind a tree while Manu and Gopal had run inside Manu’s house. Rest of the kids also found some place to get away from Ms. Patel’s blasting.
‘Aunty ji, please don’t be so angry. They are kids and they didn’t do it intentionally.’, I called out from my window.
‘No, no, no. This is every Sunday’s issue now. Two weeks earlier also they had hit the ball in our apartment and windowpane was cracked. We were thinking of keeping it as-is for as long it can stay put. But today they again hit the same windowpane and you can see it has shattered into small pieces. Who is going to pay for the repairs now? Don’t you know how costly it is getting for everything these days?’, Ms. Patel replied in a loud angry voice.
Well, I could not blame her for the anger. I should say it was more of frustration, not on kids but on life itself. She was living with her retired husband who used to run the house with his low pension. They could barely meet the ends while their son had moved out with his wife and kids to a posh area in a bigger apartment. Away from their grandchildren, they were living the life counting one day after another.
Listening to her had created a whole backdrop for me from decades ago. I was the ‘Amit’ in my childhood days, with the bat. In front of me was the old and angry Ms. Ahuja whose window was broken by the six I had shot off Manoj’s full toss.
I still remember that we all thought she was not at home as the light outside the front door was off. I was made to go and fetch the ball from her house since I had shot it in the first place. As soon as I opened the gate, Ms. Ahuja came running from nowhere with a jhadoo in her hand. Although I had somehow managed to get the ball back but the two shots from aunty’s jhadoo were registered on my leg and mind for the rest of my life, haha.
Playing cricket every evening was a routine back then. I would come out around 5 in the evening after completing my school homework and finishing a glass of bournvita milk. Since I and Sumit were the only ones with the bat, there was no debate about who is going to bat first among the rest of us. Over the weekends as well, I used to play nearly half a day under the scorching Sun or unless mom would call me back. I was obsessed with it. It was a dream for me to become a cricketer, an all-round player who would play for India. I was so good at batting that all my friends used to call me ‘the little master’. And I used to imagine my name being called in a stadium by hundreds of spectators, just like that of Sachin Tendulkar.
‘Sachinnnn! Sachin!’… ‘Sachinnnn! Sachin!’ …
Now when I try to recall, I am not sure when did I lose my dream to become a cricketer. The only thing I think of is lots of ‘May be s’.
Maybe my teachers and my parents could only see an engineer in me. Maybe it was not an option at all back in those days to think beyond studies. Maybe I didn’t show them how good a cricketer I was. Maybe I should have worked harder to continue my dream along with my studies.
All these were merely thoughts now.
Already in my early 40s with the daily 9×6 office routine, cross that 15×6 routine for the past few months. Sunday is the only day that I get to relax and restore the energy for the upcoming week. Even my alarm clock doesn’t dare wake me up on Sunday’s.
But these kids! They usually wake me up every Sunday.
Not only from my sleep, but from the dreams I have forgotten, maybe left behind in the struggles of my life. And every time I wake up, I realize, it’s still not too late to find my passion. Cricket is long gone, but there must be something else that my heart desires.
After a while when the noise downstairs subsides and the kids have returned home, I relax on my couch. Sipping a hot cup of tea, I return too, from the thoughts of my passion to the thoughts about my routine for Monday and onward.