He was the epitome of it all. A zenith. The embodiment of that singularly important action which he can perform with a flair, never repeated so far by any of his more professionally, well-equipped counterparts. He was a legend. All this and more he claims, conviction ringing in his voice like a bronze church bell with no pendulum. And we all listened to that truck load of trash without batting an eyelid. We believed him implicitly, throwing all caution to the winds and tossed the ball to him for him to bowl.
It all began an hour ago when thirteen people, lazing around in different parts of the campus, simultaneously heard the inner call, yearning for the traditional past time of every Indian. They got up immediately from their various postures, called each other up, fished out a tattered bat and an even tattered ball out of nowhere and scampered off to the ground in ten minutes flat. Never have I seen such zeal. It was a direct contrast to going to class every morning where each man would compete with the other to be the last to enter. Women are immaculate. No other comments.
Digressions apart and zooming in on the ground, the pitch looked as if it had been run over by a couple of hundred hippos. It was mutilated beyond repair. But nothing could deter our heroes. They pulled out some earth and more or less leveled it out. It still looked like a construction site though. Our men did not mind. They quickly crossed out teams, paid tribute to Kapil Dev, Aamir Khan and Zeenat Aman in that order, tossed a coin, scampered for it, lost it and finally began playing.
Team A batted first and scored a decent fistful of runs. Team B followed. The batting line up of Team B was more or less equivalent to a dysfunctional bunch of nincompoops. They ploughed on, gathering runs very slowly. Had they been any slower, they would have ended up with a negative score. After an hour of, breath-not-taking fielding, hopeless batting and comparatively sad bowling the match was poised unevenly at fifteen runs to be taken by Team B in the last over to win.
Now, given the excellent pitch conditions the batting team had as good a chance of making it as Mr. Himesh Reshammaiyya had of winning a Granny. In addition, light was failing rapidly and darkness was slowly enveloping. It was virtually impossible. Or so we thought. Where did that last drop of idiocy come from is something that remains a mystery. Apparently, all of us had succumbed to Mait's charm. We gave the ball to him to bowl.
Napolean Bonaparte's Russian campaign.
Watching Fool N Final on the first day.
T. Rajendar acting in a movie.
All these are mistakes that were justified in their means and of course totally unavoidable. But ours was not. We committed a mistake, which we rue to this day.
Mait measured his run-up and flailed his hands like a drowning man, trying to get the blood flow into his muscles. He then belted out instructions with a voice that would give a sick colonel, a run for his money any time, attempting unsuccessfully to arrange the fielding setup, to nullify his bowling repercussions. When he was thoroughly satisfied, he gave a thumbs-up to the captain who unsuspectingly lifted his thumb too. The will to win, the determination to perform, the conciousness of duty is what drives a man deliver his best; our forefathers have spat and gone. God knows what drove Mait.
He rode down his run-up like the Bombay metro train, pulled his elbow back, jumped high into the air like a cooker-whistle and crashed down, delivering the tattered ball. The ball's trajectory was a circle with an enormous radius. The batsman lunged at the no-ball with the agility of a dyspeptic porcine and connected. Two runs. So began The Over.
Two more runs, a couple of no balls and three wides all brought the score to needing six runs and the captain's blood pressure touched record heights. The very next ball, obviously a no-ball (no points there), got blown to the boundary without even touching the turf. The batting team erupted. The bowling team were left scraping their jaws on the ground.
Mait had bowled exactly one ball and given sixteen runs. He grinned sheepishly and said the Golden Words of Wisdom, "It's just a game, yaar. He...He...."
The agony of loss, the determination to outperform, the conciousness of anger is what drives a man deliver his best. We knew what to do and we did it. We gave the campus hospital a new patient to tend to that evening.