Monday, February 22, 2010

Retrospect - A Short Story

The Sun's beautiful evening rays fell on his numb face. It had no sensory effects even as he watched its progress until the sky darkened. His Dream was shattered!

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Jan 1996

Gurpreet Singh was a happy man. Got married to his childhood love Gurneet and managed to get an unlikely gift as dowry. A brand new Videocon 21" colour TV. He had a compelling reason. Prepared to buy him a motor-bike, the in-laws were dumb-founded at this unusual request. 15-20km from his village (Khera Gajju), he had a bakery-cum-dabba shop opposite the - "Punjabi University" on the outskirts of Patiala. A truck driver, who frequently visited his shop, famously nick-named him "Gajju". Indeed, the traffic passing on the NH-64 created more opportunity for his shop than the college goers. It would all change in a month's time.


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April 2009

Today had to be his most awaited day. Sachin Singh showed no signs of nervousness/anxiety. Neither had he contemplated if he can fail. His coach never missed an opportunity to remind him: "All fail by fearing and also shivering".
Much as he would have liked his father to have accompanied him, he was content having his mother for company. Presently he could see her doing a silent prayer.

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Gajju was deep in thought over the preparations for the evening. Very cleverly he had acted ill to force Sachin leave without him. 'Got cold. Go with mother'. After-all the occasion demanded extravagant celebrations. Something unique & graceful that would envy the neighbours. Something that Sachin would just love it. His chain of thought suddenly hit upon an excellent idea as he remembered a TV show.

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It was time for glory. Sachin grew in confidence seeing other contenders flop. His chance seemed to come after an eternity. Running in to bowl at him was a gentle medium-pacer. The ball hit the turf ever-so-slowly and bounced. He was readying to smack the ball to long-on when the ball moved slightly before reaching the bat and took the edge instead of flying over the ropes. Not overwhelmed by the miss, he adjusted his stance to counter the swing. But next ball swung the other way and took the top-edge of the bat. Tension started to creep-in now despite being groomed to be confident. He told himself to see the ball and then swing the bat. A quick look towards his mother gave him assurance. He marked a middle-stump stance to counter whichever way the ball-swung. The bowler too thought over what would be going in the batsman's mind. He produced a gem - the ball just pitched and went straight ahead, knocking the stumps. The selector had seen enough and crossed against Sachin's name. Glory had ended before it had begun. His mother sensed what had happened and quickly reached her son to take him away. The Saree was soon wet with tears.

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The age of cell-phones meant that Gajju received the fatal SMS immediately - 'Sachin not selected in the under-13 district cricket team'. He had been to the roof to ponder upon the preparations. He was so sure that his son cannot fail. His dream had come shattering down. Despite himself, tears rolled down his cheeks. He wondered what could have gone wrong with his coaching. Yes, he had never played cricket. But did his best to teach his son. Everyone in the village had praised his son. The other boys feared his batting.
It was getting dark and he seemed to realize it now. After being confused and heartbreaks, there was clarity now. Our brain has this interesting potential of giving hope after complete despair. But for hope it is nigh impossible to live. Once hope settles in, we take things all-together in a different prospective. The setting of sun had epitomized itself in his mind as "end of dream" without himself being aware of it. Now suddenly he found the optimism - there is sunrise after a sunset. A thought now disturbed him heavily. He began tracing why his son was playing cricket. Was it not because of his passion rather than his son's? Against his father's wishes, he had named the child Sachin, breaking away the tradition of naming with "Guru" variants. He asked Waheguru's pardon. Better late than never. Important arrangements had to be made...

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Sachin, I will try explaining to him. Failing doesn't mean end of world. He will understand. Just be with me when he speaks.
"He will beat me up... The other day I got severe scoldings for coming one minute late to practice." More tears flowed...

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Gajju soon reached his shop (Gajju Bakers) & ordered for cakes to be delivered in certain shapes. He had to personally go there to show the shapes he cut from newspapers and some of his son's paintings.
There wasn't time to waste. He drove fast in his 'swift'. He let a smile thinking back on how the master-stroke of getting a TV as dowry helped his growth from an ordinary shop to one of the biggest in the locality. He had timed the marriage to get ready for the 1996 cricket WC. He now had plans to open branches in Patiala and Rajpura.
A bus-stopped in front and silhouette of a woman and a boy appeared. He cursed his bad-luck as he drove towards his wife & son. Sachin was almost hidden in his mother's arms. It did not help that his lie was now out in open. They drove silently to home and Sachin immediately went to his room and shut himself up. He wanted to atleast drown-out the thunderous scoldings he was expecting.
Gajju started talking in broken english to catch his son's attention.
"You interested in music also... studies also you good.. cricket you can try next year also.. we go to Patiala, you will also get good coaching. I also know.. you like cricket as I also like cricket... you also tell what u like... I won't force you to play cricket also..."
Sachin was surprised. He suspected it to be trap but could not ignore the passion with which his father had said it. He felt grateful to have such a father. He opened the door without being asked for and hugged his father.
"Sorry"
"I also should say Sorry"
Soon the tears gave way to smile and then excitement - for now he can spend more time playing guitar. He was having a large guitar shaped cake which was strikingly similar to his drawing leaving aside the cakes in shape of cricket equipments.

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Thanks to Karthik and Srini for their kind help.

Author's Note:
Although this is purely a fictional work, the books I've read, my personal experiences, social interaction, etc. have all helped me in penning (or rather blogging) this story. So, if you find something familiar, pardon my liberty in using it here and in my future stories. And not to forget, thanks to Google - Patiala
This being my first attempt at a story, I would be grateful if any short-comings are pointed out. :)

8 comments:

Sathappan R said...

a good start !! :)

Karthik said...

Brilliant, Sundeep! Need I say more. It has come up excellently now, compared to the unedited version.

It's whole, it's sweet, and more importantly one word that pops up immediately upon reading this story is 'Hope'. Is there any other better word in English, I guess not.

I've said it before and I'll say it again; I thoroughly loved the flow and the language.
Editing work is perfect!

I just wonder why you didn't write short stories all these days. Don't stop, man. Hope to read more. Trust me, I'm neither biased nor flattering you, you are too bloody good. :)
Cheerios!

Sundeep said...

Thanks Sathappan :)

@Karthik,
Your suggestion did work wonders and I agree that this version is lot better.
Thanks a lot again :)

Sathappan R said...

finally, a great template for your blog !!.. no more PINK !!! :)

Anonymous said...

Hey thats nice :) u would make a good short story writer ... keep writing !!! -saranya

Srini said...

Hi anna,Very nice!!!! I tot u would really make him a Sachin..That would interest many cricket lovers since they actually dont know wats happening in the childhood period of cricketers

Nethra said...

That was something. I enjoyed reading it. :) Now, I'm following your blog. I will read your other post when time permits me. :)

Sundeep said...

@Sathappan,
Yeah, evem am relieved from that template.. hehe

@Saranya,
Thanks for the wishes :)

@Srini,
Thanks. You are best suited in describing those struggles as you have experienced it ;)

@Nethra,
Nice to know that you enjoyed it :)

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