Thursday, May 22, 2014

Chapters from my Nostalgia: Sealed with that ‘Timeless’ six

Nostalgia is a supremely powerful emotion. In different facets of life, we look back at our past for varied reasons. Sometimes, to recollect a fond memory, sometimes, to soothe our frayed heart and often times, just for the fun of it. There is something about our past that is both magical and magnetic. Although it is not wise to dwell in the past, it is definitely worth it to relive certain memories. This is exactly what I am doing here.

With this post, I start a new series on my blog: ‘Chapters from my Nostalgia’. Every now and then, I will pick up some eventful memory from my enchanting past and present it through this series. Sometimes it may be from my school days, or from my summer vacations or any other event from my life that left a mark in my psyche. I do not know what shape this series will take in the days to come, but I do hope to make it lively and interesting for you.

Since this is the first post of the series, it had to be something special. When I think of my childhood, there are two things which had had the greatest impact on me: Cricket and Udaipur. It is thus natural that I unlocked a memory which had a blend of both in it. Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did reliving it.

May 1997, Udaipur, Rajasthan

Even though it was 5 in the afternoon, the damp grass still had the smell of last night’s rain in it. Rains in the month of May in Udaipur were a blissful rarity and this time the fragrant mix of the moist soil along with the wet grass helped soothe my frayed nerves.

A cricket match was currently in progress in the ‘backyard’ of my naani ghar (maternal home) and I was nervously waiting for my turn to bat. My team was batting first and I was sitting in a small shed at the extreme end of the field, which actually was our ‘pavilion’. I sat along with a few other of my cousins, who had been dismissed.  Actually, to call the playing area a backyard would be an understatement. It was more of a field; spread across vastly on all sides. Cricket in the afternoon was the most common pastime here and being the avid follower of the game, I looked forward to participating in every match. However, things weren’t that easy here.

My family in Udaipur is huge. In fact, it is ginormous. There are about 12 families that stay in one gigantic house and the total number of members here runs close to around 60. Thus, I had many cousins who were males and were expectedly very interested in playing cricket. Almost all of them were very good at playing the game and as a 12-year-old, I was overawed by their skills. Moreover, all of them were in their late teens and of bulky frames and I was clearly the odd one out.

Since I was here for my month long summer vacation, my cousins would take me in their respective teams more out of pity than for my skills at playing the sport. The matches would be usually 6-a-side and I was taken just to fill the numbers of the respective team I was selected in. It was embarrassing to be selected this way, but I would just be excited to get a chance to be part of the matches.

The matches were 7-over contests and most of my time in the field was consumed in chasing the balls as I was never allowed to bowl. Whatever little chance I got of batting, something I dearly loved; I fared extremely poorly. I was no match to the pace, bounce and guile of these bowlers and my stay at the wicket would mostly be shorter than a few minutes. 

Nevertheless, I was the eternal optimist and always believed that one day would come when I would smash these bowlers to all parts of the ground and win matches for my team. In fact, before coming to Udaipur every year, I would fantasize some thrilling and convenient situations: that my team is in a precarious position and I lead them to victory with my sparkling batting performance; and my team then comes rushing towards me and carries me on their shoulders; off into the glorious sunset. However, those were dreams which were starkly different from my reality here.

Nevertheless, playing cricket here along with my cousins was important to me for other reasons as well. I believed that the more cricket I would play here I would get better and then playing the game at my home in Kolkata and in my school matches would be a cinch.

A loud cheer from the center of the field brought me out of my reverie. A wicket - the last recognized batsman - had fallen and I was now the last one in. We had our own cricket rules here and the last man could bat on even if all the others had been dismissed; something which I had to do now.

“Only five balls left; score at least one run,” said my elder cousin to me who had been dismissed. I took the bat from him and sighed deeply. My cousin’s sarcastic jibe did not help me but nevertheless, I had a task at hand.


Although the match was being played with a tennis ball, the fear of being hit loomed large in my thoughts. Leave alone pads, we just wore sandals or chappals to the game and as I saw my cousin warming up to bowl, I gulped. My cousin Paritosh, all of 17 years of age, was a robust young kid who could bowl really fast. He was easily the best bowler of the entire family and not many preferred facing him. I had already been out many times to him in the past few matches apart from being hurt quite a few times in the unmentionable area.

Very few expected me to do well. Not even me. But I had no choice and face the inevitable.

The first ball whizzed past me much before I could even lift my bat to play a stroke. I looked like a complete fool and could feel my team members rolling their eyes behind me in the pavilion.

The second ball pitched on the middle and straightened. I attempted to play a straight drive, but missed the ball and it just went inches over the off-stump. Paritosh left out an anguished cry even as the others of his team smiled; probably at my ineptness.

Flustered, I was now determined to at least get bat on ball and take one run. The third ball was a little slow and a tad outside off. This time, I somehow managed to plant my bat in the line of the ball and played a stroke towards the ‘cover’ region. However, my stroke did not have much life in it and the ball was easily fielded before I could even think of coming out of my crease.

“Should we declare, you moron?” hollered one of my team members. I chose to ignore him and concentrate on the task ahead; not willing to give up.

The fourth ball was a yorker. I wasn’t prepared for it and was wildly looking to slog. The ball hit my toes at pace and I muffled my cry as searing pain shot through my foot. I could not show anyone that I had been hurt as it would have meant to accept that I was a fragile kid. I thus nonchalantly picked up the ball and threw it back to the bowler; gently rubbing my foot after that.

I could now see Paritosh smirking a little. He had me hopping like a cat on a hot tin roof and was mighty pleased with that. I felt irritated and a little helpless. Something had to give.

The wise words of my father, then suddenly swam back to me. “Watch the ball very closely. Watch it until the very end,” he would always tell me whilst I played cricket back at my home in Kolkata. I had never quite paid heed to those words but somehow it seemed this was the moment I was destined to do so.

The fifth ball from Paritosh was fast. This time, I followed his hand closely as he delivered the ball, which was short of a good length and landed a few feet away from the off-stump. I charged down the wicket and following the line of the ball, swatted it straight before it could rise up.

The bat made a resounding ‘Craaack’ as it hit the ball; the sound reverberating across the field. There was a stunned silence in the arena as everyone watched the ball rise high in the orange sky. The little round thing soared and kept going high, crossing the field, the street beyond the field, before finally landing on top of the terrace of a building opposite it. It was as big a six as anyone had hit here.

My teammates whooped in joy and came rushing towards me; patting my back and ruffling my hair. Even the opposition team had smiles on their faces. My eyes though were fixed on Paritosh. He was the only one who looked too stunned and deflated to react; still watching the building beyond the terrace; refusing to believe that he had been hit for such a massive six by a 12-year-old. The air had clearly been winded out of him.

The ball was lost and could not be retrieved. But nobody cared! It was my moment to savour now.

I held my bat aloft in the air and proudly strutted around with it till the 'pavilion'; akin to the way Lord Hanuman would have lifted his mace after conquering Lanka. It was my highest score of the season here. Just six runs. But at that time, those runs meant the world to me. 
The remainder of the match went by in a whizz. Only the sixer kept playing in my mind. Everything else was just a daze.


We used to have dinner in a large central hall of the house. Around 15-20 of us would sit in a circle and share our stories at the end of the day. Today, I was the only one who was speaking and was clearly the star of the house. 

I animatedly recounted my ‘heroics’ with the bat to everyone who would care to listen. My naana, my maasis, and maamas had to bear the brunt of my pompous retellings of the six I hit.

“I just came out of the crease and ‘Bam’,” I re-enacted the shot from my sitting position to my family members who listened to me keenly.  Food had never tasted so good to me in the entire vacation.

The only person conspicuous by his absence was Paritosh. A bruised ego, after all, takes some time to heal.


It wasn’t as if I hadn’t sixes before this. But this one was special on many counts. This one made me believe that I belonged to this game; that I too could take the big ones on if I wanted.

I was always a mediocre cricket player but I did have my moments in school and at the many matches, I played at home. Many a time I would struggle badly and it was in these moments that I would look back at that six I had hit in the dry field of my naani ghar in Udaipur.

That six not only helped me as a cricketer; it also boosted my confidence in real life. And that is why I cherish it to date. I look back at this chapter of my life very fondly, ever so often, as it helps lift my spirits and will hence keep it locked in the deep corners of my memory. That moment will forever remain a glittering part of my glorious nostalgia.

 That moment... That one moment which I sealed with a timeless six. 

Read the other chapters in the series by clicking on the links below:

Chapters from my Nostalgia: The First Crush

Chapters From My Nostalgia: “I Cried For You Today Maa…”


  1. These memories are priceless. Full nostalgic.

    1. Thank you Anusia! Yes indeed, these memories are so priceless. Nothing can ever replace them. Thank you for taking out time to read and comment.

  2. Dan Simmons once said `When we r old and failing ,it is the memories of childhood which can be summoned most clearly' this was a precious event which took place in ur past ,but will leave its mark in future..... Just proud of u....