Friday, September 14, 2018

Our Cricket Bat

Once upon a time we had a cricket bat, my brother and I.

We loved that bat.

It was our first deuce bat, after all.

I remember the night it was bought, about 25 year ago. It was a momentous day in our lives.

It came out of the blue, without warning. Just like that. Wrapped in a neat, blue cover.

Our father took it out and handed it to us. It was so shiny. So gleamy. So new. I held it and smelled it; it felt like new furniture. I took a batting stance; the handle was too big for me to grip. And it was so heavy. Too heavy for my little hands. The blade was so thick. I felt I could smash any bowler in the world. I was overawed.

We would no longer need my skinny little bat. We were now in the big league. We owned a deuce bat, after all.

It became our loyal companion in the days to follow. Every evening we would take it out from the little space behind our mother’s almirah, which became its permanent shelter for the next ten years.  

And then…Hours after hours, days after days, it would exchange hands between me and my brother. I would await my turn eagerly. To hold the bat. To feel the heavy thud of the cork ball on its face. Ball after ball… Over after over …

In the initial days, I would generally be out bowled in the first ball itself; flailing wildly at thin air and unable to lift the bat quickly enough.

“One more ball, Bhaiya. Please, one more ball,” I would plead.

When our matches would be over, I would quietly wait for the time my brother wouldn’t be around. That is what I eagerly looked forward to the most. Because that is when I was the king.

With the bat held in my little hands, I would progress to play shadow cricket. To someone watching me from a distance it would have appeared an odd sight – a skinny boy wildly swinging his bat in thin air on his verandah.

But in my mind, I was batting at Lord’s and Eden Gardens, and the Melbourne Cricket Ground and the Kensignton Oval. I was smashing Wasim Akram and Waqar Younis, and Courtney Walsh and Glen McGrath…No bowler was spared by the wrath of my new willow. I would pulverize them all over the ground.

Cover drive. On-drive. Straight drive. Flick. Cut. I played all the strokes with deft precision.

I was the king, you see. No less than Don Bradman and Sachin Tendulkar. Better, in fact.

Often, a situation something similar to this would arise:

I dance down the track and thump a six off Shane Warne over long-on to bring up my triple hundred. The crowd goes wild. “Bhavesh!!! Bhavesh!! Bhavesh!!!” They are delirious with joy for their hero. I hold my bat aloft, beaming in pride at having become India’s first ever triple-centurion. Oh, what a feeling!!!

“Chiku, stop waving your bat around like a lunatic. You will break something. Come back inside,” a female voice would break the glorious sequence.

And so it would continue.

In the years to follow, the bat took several poundings, strewn with little red and green smudges all over its blade. I would often sit down and clean it with oil. My brother and I even taped the rubber on the handle after it had torn away. We loved our bat. It was a deuce bat, after all.

We grew older and slowly the bat took a backseat. It would rarely come out from its confine, the little space behind our mother’s almirah. Sometimes at night, however, when I would be troubled or stressed after scoring another single-digit score in my Maths exam, I would take out the bat and transform into the best batsman in the world again.

It was refreshing. Me and my bat and the world I created with it. No one could enter it. And I loved this world.

Unfortunately, however, about 13 years back we shifted from our old home to a new place. My life had changed by then. I was an adult and was dealing some rather distressing situations in my life. In the commotion and confusion of that unfortunate phase I thought we had lost our bat.

To be honest, I had forgotten all about it. When I actually remembered it, it was too late. Nowhere to be found. A beautiful part of my childhood. Gone forever.

My heart would wince in regret every time I would recall our beloved bat over the past many years. But life had to move on. And it did…

Until earlier this week…Life took me back to my glorious past again…Just like that.

My father had planted himself on our shelf in the terrace; rummaging through the contents and trying to rearrange stuff. Much to my annoyance he kept calling out to me every five minutes, handing me down dusty and moldy items that I held with a scrunched nose.

“Chiku…Come here and take this down,” my father called out to me for the zillionth time.

Grumbling to myself, I went out. He was handing me down our giant Sony television carton that has been a part of our life for close to 20 years now.

I coughed and sneezed as I placed the carton down on the floor. As I was rubbing the dust off my hands, my eyes suddenly fell on the inside of the carton.

There was dust everywhere. There were little, torn bags filled with cobwebs. But…Lying quietly on top of them was a dust-covered deuce bat.

Have you ever found something from your past totally out of the blue? Something you had almost forgotten but which was an integral part of your childhood?

Well, this was that moment for me.

Almost in a daze I picked the bat up. It was like everything else had become a blur. Just me…And the bat…

“Chiku…Hand me the bags,” my father’s voice broke my reverie.

Taken aback, I quickly flung the bags at him and ran inside. With a soft cloth, I progressed to clean the bat meticulously; a swarm of memories coming back to me while I wiped the surface.

I gripped the bat firmly. It felt nice and perfect. My heart suddenly began thudding in my chest. It was as if something warm was frothing inside.

One more ball, Bhaiya…Please, one more ball”, I could hear the distant echo of a little boy inside my head.

Chiku…Stop waving the bat around,” a female voice was calling out to me next; very distant and yet so near.

I wiped my eyes and concentrated on my stance.

Cover drive. On-drive. Straight drive. Flick. Cut. I could still play all of them with great precision.

I dance down the track and smash one straight down the ground. “Bhavesh!!! Bhavesh!!! Bhavesh!!!” The crowd goes hysterical, chanting my name. I raise my bat aloft and acknowledge their cheer.

After about twenty minutes, when I had exhausted myself with my shadow cricket, I took the bat inside my room and placed it right next to my mother’s almirah. There was no place behind it now. So this would have to do.

I have promised myself to take better care of it now and never lose it out of my sight again. Until I am ready to pass it over to someone worthy, maybe.

But for now, it will stay with me. And I will indulge myself with it whenever I can.

I must. For my own self.  For my brother. And for our childhood.

Because this is no ordinary bat.

It is our deuce bat, after all.


  1. What an absolutely delightful memory and so well told. It brought us right into the mind of a kid and made us a part of his dreams. Lovely!

    1. Thank you, Sir. That mean a lot to me.:)

      And my cricket dreams turned out to be fantasies too. Although I still indulge in those fantasies. Always pumps me up.

    2. Wonderful walk down Memory Lane! Your echoed the fantasies and dreams of many young boys.

    3. Thank you so much, Shiva Kumar Ji!!! :) I guess a lot of us as young boys felt the same with a bat in our hands, isn't it? :)

  2. A lot of nostalgia in this post, and love both for cricket and for your brother. Lovely writing.

    I was at the Oval last year, watching India play Sri Lanka. SO MANY emotions.


    1. Wow! You were at The Oval!!! That's incredible! So envious of you. :D

      And thank you for reading. Glad you liked it. :)