An attempt at a short story.. Inspired by a true incident that came flooding back when I heard the song ‘The Greatest’ by Kenny Rogers.
It was raining, and the 11-year old could not go out to play cricket. He was restless and kept looking at the clock, for there was only an hour’s day-light to go. Sadly, Mother Nature didn’t seem considerate enough to relent. The boy’s restlessness was understandable. After all, he wanted to hone his batting skills, he wanted to drive and cut and pull; he wanted to be Sachin Tendulkar, he wanted to be the best.
His mother saw him forlorn and lost and asked him to play in the garage instead of waiting in the veranda. The boy saw sense in the suggestion. He picked up his bat and a tennis ball and walked in to the garage. He switched the light on and prepared to battle. The moment the light was switched on, he was transported to another world. This was no longer a garage, it was Eden Gardens. And he had to practice his craft here for the day; he wanted to be Sachin Tendulkar, he wanted to be the best.
The rules were simple. The garage shutters were pulled down behind him; stumps were drawn on the shutter using crayons. The boy would stand with the stumps (garage shutters) behind him and hurl the tennis ball at the wall ahead; and when the ball came back, he would hit it with his bat. It was a new bat and a heavy one at that. His father had suggested that it might be a tad too heavy for him while buying it, but the boy was adamant. After all, his idol used a heavy bat and so should he; he wanted to be Sachin Tendulkar, he wanted to be the best.
He threw the ball at the wall, and the tennis ball quickly bounced back at him. By the time he gripped the bat and swung it, he heard the sound of the ball crashing into the shutters behind him. Well, the bat was too heavy for him to lift and swing, in a little more than a second; for that was the amount of time the ball took to come back to him after being hurled at the wall. He could have under-armed the ball to the wall very slowly, but he wanted to face the fastest bowlers in the world. That’s why he insisted on throwing the ball with full force instead of gently under-arming it to the wall. He had to learn how to face the fastest bowlers in the world; he wanted to be Sachin Tendulkar, he wanted to be the best.
The boy composed himself and launched the ball again. He swung the bat at the ball and again heard the sound of tennis ball on garage shutter. He walked down what he imagined was the pitch, tapped it like the batsmen did. He kept a running commentary on, and at that time the commentator said that this was a very fast pitch. It would require immense grit and skill to save this one for India and the boy had it. After all, he wanted to be Sachin Tendulkar, he wanted to be the best.
This process kept going on and on for half an hour. Swing, miss, ball crashes into the shutter. Not once did the boy lose hope. Not once did he throw the ball a little gently on to the wall. But every single time he swung the bat, he did not hear the sound of the bat hitting the ball. Each time the ball hit the shutters, each thud louder than the last one. Then finally, his mom called. It was time for homework. He raised the shutter and crawled out, walked into the house with bat and ball. His mom smiled at him and asked him if he batted like Sachin Tendulkar. The boy gave a wide grin and said “no, Ma! I didn’t. Today I bowled like the best, I bowled like Allan Donald.”