(This piece was written almost 10 years back when my son was fourteen. it was rejected by every newspaper I sent it to.)
My son had a dream. He dreamt that I had sent him to buy onions (it was a time when the spiralling price of onions almost brought down the Maharashtra government). On his way to the grocer’s, he saw a man pushing a cartload of onions. There were leg spin onions and off spin onions. The off spin onion, my son was told, cost Rs 8 per kilo. My son got into an argument with him. At the grocer’s, my son told him, leg spin onions cost only Rs 6 and so there is no reason why off spin onions should cost more (I don’t pretend to understand why it should cost less). A heated exchange followed – of words first, blows later. Soon passers–by joined in, and, in the free for all that followed, onions started spinning all over the place – off spin onions, leg spin onions, large onions, small onions. But the attack was medium pace with mostly full tosses, and the target - just anyone who happened to be around.
My son had been dreaming cricket ever since he was a toddler. But this was the first time his dream took a violent turn. Hopefully, the last time. So I refused to worry about it. But this dream set me thinking about the way this game had invaded our waking and sleeping hours. It appears that not a day in the life of an average Indian passes without his talking cricket or talking in terms of cricket. Recently, my nephew, who goes to the fourth standard, looked up from the picture of a ninety year old lady in the obituary column and said, “Aunty, look! This granny made ninety runs before she got out”. I refused to be scandalised at this irreverent attitude to the only certainty in life. This fledgling’s crickety sense of humour left me holding my sides.
Not just the younger ones, the older lot too seem to resort to this Anglo - Saxon game to express themselves. I once heard an elderly uncle protest against the regularity with which jackfruit dishes kept appearing in different forms on the daily menu. His wife, however, was not amused when he demanded to know whether she had taken a vow to hit a century in the jackfruit season. The situation did not improve any when his son playfully but tactlessly butted in to ask whether he should give his mother out so that his wife (the bahu) could go in to bat.
Cricket journalese has spawned yet another category of terms which has invaded the active vocabulary of Indians. These are a little hard to digest on account of the unnatural violence involved in dragging them into non-cricket contexts. Thus you hear of a compere being in a ‘devastating form”. My friend recently baked a cake which “collapsed” like the “Indian middle order”. A parent was once heard mourning that his son lacked the ‘killer instinct”! The other day I was at a Farewell meeting. My stomach heaved when I heard the retiring person being felicitated for ‘wrapping up his long and glorious innings” in a fitting manner. The “explosive start” of his career was found to deserve mention. He was lauded for proving to be the ‘danger man” who “demolished” the management’s something or the other.
O Lord! Deliver us from these loose deliveries!