When the nation celebrates Tendulkar’s twenty years sway over its imagination, a voice keeps ringing in my years. My son’s:
“If not for you, amma, I’d have been another Tendulkar”
He grew up in those days when the one dayers were reducing the work output of the entire nation on the day the matches were held, when grandmothers in thuni & chatta were clapping hands and yelling adiyedda! Piddiyeda! oddeda! (hit, take that catch, run) discarding all ‘dignity’ and restraint that were traditionally associated with the grand old ladies of the Christian household. It was an age when television and one day cricket gave birth to a new class of cricket lovers. My son was born into that age when India lived cricket, breathed cricket, thought cricket and dreamt cricket.
My daughter too was obsessed with that sport. She too could rattle off statistics, but her interest got snuffed out the minute her hero Azaruddin was dropped. After that, it was mostly an academic interest in the game for her.
Ever since Mathew was old enough to walk steadily, he used to play cricket, with plastic bats, sticks, paper balled up & tied with jute string or with whatever that could serve as bat and ball. He would play with whoever was willing to play with him, irrespective of age and gender. Once, while in Bombay, when all the parents of the apartment complex had kept their boys indoors during the weekend to prepare for exams, I caught my son playing cricket with a three year old child who could just about walk, with his baby bat and ball, much to the delight of its young mother – and Mathew seemed to be enjoying it too!
When Mathew was in the 7th standard, he decided to get serious about his cricket. WE had just moved to Trivandrum. He found out that there was cricket coaching in the Police Parade ground by Kerala Cricket Club at 6.15 am.
“Not fair to ask papa to take you everyday. He works late “
“I’ll go by bus”.
He persuaded us to allow him to take public transport. Thus the first time he traveled alone in KSRTC was to go for cricket training.
Those days, he used to come home excited and tell me all about cricket. The only thing I remember from what he said was “Batting, amma, is all about body balancing!”. Sounded pretty odd to me – so I remember.
He was in 9th standard when he persuaded us to allow him to go the Khar Gymkhana Club for cricket coaching. I was dead against it.
“Amma. Imagine being in Bombay and not going for cricket training!”
The idea didn’t sound as preposterous to me as it did to him.My husband, a great respecter of individuals and their individuality, okayed this demand instantly, leaving very little opening for my veto.
And Mathew went for coaching four times a week, on the way back from school. On those days, he reached home by 8, bathed, ate and slept, without touching his books. The following mornings, he’d get up just in time to perform his daily ablutions, down his breakfast and rush to school.
The other mothers of the boys of Mathew’s age group in the apartment complex admonished me for letting him go for coaching in this crucial stage of his high school. Their children were pestering to be allowed to go for coaching. Mathew’s mom became a hero with them! But I was besieged by doubts about the wisdom of our decision to give in to his wishes. Since his performance in studies was good, I could find no excuse to stop the coaching.
But when he was promoted to the 10th standard – the final year in school, that crucial year which would decide his future , and therefore which makes all mothers paranoid and nervous and anxious – I put my foot down. No more coaching. Mathew tried every trick in the book to convince his father who was in half mind seeing how earnest the son was. Also, he had greater faith in Math’s cricketing abilities than me. And he was indulgent too. I remember getting a call from him once while I was at work to say that he’d given Mathew permission to go for the one day, day and night match between India and Sri Lanka (I think) - ALONE. Mathew has already reached the Wankhede stadium, he told me. So there was no point in me kicking up a racket, I thought. But how the poor hypertensive me survived that time till the boy came home, only God knows! It must have been a conspiracy between the father and son to tell me only after he was dropped off at the stadium.
As for me, I wasn’t sure how good he was at this game. True, older boys who belonged to various cricket clubs used to call Mathew as a substitute when someone did not turn up for the one day tournaments. Mathew used to come home ecstatic at his performance – literally with stars in his eyes, no doubt seeing himself as a future Tendulkar!
But I had my way. His cricket coaching was discontinued.
For a very long time, my son never missed an opportunity to tell me that if not for me, India would have seen another Tendulkar.
Today, I hope that my son, who is doing pretty ok in his chosen field (academics) would say “Amma, if not for you, I’d have been a wannabe Tendulkar”
My post on Criket: http://pareltank.blogspot.com/2006/09/cricketalk.html