How can there be a cricket match without a bat?
SeenuSeenu was ten
years old. He was a passionate cricket fan. His hero was none other
than Sachin Tendulkar, the greatest batsman in the world. He had a great
deal of respect for his hero. He thought about cricket day and night.
He imitated Sachins gait, batting style and the manner in which
he threw the ball to the stumps
He had even his hair turned curly
by paying extra two rupees at the Mountain Hair Saloon last Sunday.
Seenu was undoubtedly the best batsman in his local team The
Stars, formed by his huge band of friends. He had a collection of medals
and trophies he won in several neighbouring cricket matches. He dreamt
of becoming a great batsman one day and representing India in the World
Seenus dream of becoming a maestro was dampened by one thing.
He did not possess a proper cricket bat. He always played with a borrowed
one. Whenever Seenu looked at the photographs of Sachin and his shining
bat in sports magazines and newspapers, his desires to have a bat exactly
like that kept growing. He craved to hit fours and sixes with the new
bat. But he had no money to buy one!
Money made Seenu go mad. He did not like the idea of getting something
as precious as a bat by paying a lot of money. But he knew that without
money he could never possess a bat like Sachin. He chalked out a list
of moneylenders in his mind. Firstly it was his father then his mother
and lastly his elder sister Latha. He crossed out his fathers
name from the list because he was out of town for a week or so. He knew
his mother would not disappoint him.
The next morning, he entered the kitchen cautiously like a cat. His
mother was busy preparing the dough for dosas. He said haughtily, "Ma,
I want money to buy a new cricket bat. Give it to me soon." His
voice was muffled by the sound of the grinding machine. His mother failed
to hear him. He then screeched, "Ma!" His mother turned back
and glared at him. She switched off the machine and said, "Why
do you scream like a jackal. Have you seen a snake or what? And what
business youve got in the kitchen at this hour. Youve had
Seenu fumbled for words. "Ma, can you give me some
"For what," his mother shot back.
Again he was at a loss for words and murmured, "For
His mother grew serious and stared at him and said, "What? Cricket
bat? I dont have money for such unwanted things. Your father isnt
a millionaire. Anyway, why do you need a new bat now? Youve got
one already, isnt it? I cant afford to waste the household
money. Please go now. Ive got lots of chores to do."
Seenu was unhappy. He wore a dull face and sat in the compound watching
the blue matter of the sky. Latha who had returned from a cinema, asked
him, "Hey Seenu, what are you staring at? Looking for shooting
stars during the day?" She giggled. Seenu did not bother to look
She continued, "Hey Sachin, what happened to you? You look like
a batsman whos had a string of ducks. No cricket match today?"
Seenu answered, still looking at the sky, "How can there be a cricket
match without a bat?" His voice was sombre.
Latha became considerate. She loved her brother so much that she would
do anything to make him happy. She placed a warm hand on his back and
asked gently, "Seenu, what happened exactly. Please tell me. You
shouldnt hide anything from your sister."
Seenu explained, "Latha, as you know, Ive always wanted to
buy an oil bat. Now the summer holidays have begun. I thought I could
I asked Ma to give me some money, but she refused. Will you
help me, Latha? Ill do all your work. Ill even pack the
papads and deliver it to your customers."
Latha helped the family budget by making papads and selling it in the
neighbourhood. This summer she didnt pay much attention to papad-making;
instead she was busy watching the latest movies in town.
"I wish I could help you, Seenu," she said. "Ive
not been making many papads. And you know how crazy I am about watching
films. I too need money. I just have a rupee. Take this as the initial
amount for buying your cricket bat. Every drop makes the ocean!"
Seenu meekly accepted the coin. He thought Latha was trying to be clever
by quoting a proverb. One rupee meant nothing when compared to the price
of the bat, which was sixty-four rupees plus tax. Googly Sports Store
near the market wouldnt give him any discount. The owner of the
shop had a bad temper. Every evening when Seenu stood staring at the
bat displayed in the window, he would shout at him, "Stop eyeing
my bats like that. They are not bananas peeled open to be eaten."
Seenu looked at the coin and keenly observed the three lions on it.
He remembered his history teacher explain the significance of four lions
as guardians of truth in four directions. He wondered where the fourth
lion was. He flipped the coin over and searched for it, but there were
only three heads visible. While he was fiddling with the coin, it slipped
off his hand and got lost in the wild shrubs grown around his house.
He searched frantically, slightly bruising his arm. After a full ten-minute
search, he found the coin. He slipped it into his left-hand short-pants
pocket that housed colourful threads, different kinds of pebbles and
He walked to the Setty Stores that sold all kinds of lentils, rice,
flour, vegetables and peppermints. The store was across the main road
off the market. The shop had a reputation of supplying outdated items.
Hardly more than a dozen customers came to the shop every day. And most
of them came to the store for idle-talk with the storeowner, Krishna
Setty, a bald-headed, bleary-eyed man. But business was brisk at the
opposite store because they sold quality products. Krishna Setty would
sit on his chair and eat and snore all day. He had gained a lot of weight
during the last couple of years and couldnt really fit in his
chair. He liked children a lot. He occasionally gave them sweets stored
in the glass jars. The little children liked his sweets but were scared
of asking him for more.
Seenu liked to visit Setty Stores for many reasons. The first reason
being he got three peppermints for one rupee, whereas in other shops
they gave only two. Setty also gave some samples of new chocolates to
Seenu and usually offered items on credit. Seenu liked the shop for
its calm transaction without too many customers.
Seenu met Ramu, the captain of The Stars, on the way to the main road.
Ramu greeted Seenu, "Hello! Why didnt you come for practice
today? Have you forgotten about the upcoming match? I am not satisfied
with your performance, Seenu. You are not concerned about cricket these
Seenu didnt want to hear that from the captain. Ramu was a very
moody chap. And Seenu wanted to win back his confidence. He said, "Ramu,
Ive got a rupee with me. Let me treat you today." Together
they walked to Setty Stores.
On seeing Seenu, Setty welcomed him, "Come, please come, young
man. Pleased to see you today! You are not to be seen lately, whats
the matter? Stopped eating peppermints or no money in your little pocket?"
He guffawed, exposing his brown-stained teeth. Seenu scanned the glass
jars that housed multicoloured peppermints, candies, oil edibles, red
dry jamoons and sweets.
"Ramu, what do you want?" Seenu asked sweetly.
Ramu opted for three chaklis (whorl-shaped oil edible) and an orange
candy. Seenu took six botis (yellow-coloured cylindrical oil edible).
Setty accepted the coin from Seenu gleefully.
Ramus mood changed after munching a chakli. He said, "Seenu,
I have a surprise for you. Here is the entry form for the next Sundays
match against The Rhodes. Read the rules carefully and try to arrange
six rupees for the entry fee. We need to pay the fee by the end of this
week. See you tomorrow morning in the park." Seenu beamed and said,
"Thanks a lot, Ramu. You are very kind."
Seenu came home that evening, feeling content. He read the match rules
over and over. The only rule that disturbed him was having no slips
for left-handed batsmen. He filled the entry form and tucked it between
his geography textbook.
The next morning, The Stars met in the quadrangle of Nehru Park. Ramu,
dressed in whites, welcomed all the fifteen members of the team, "Hello
everyone! Next Sundays match is very important to us. The Rhodes
think they have the best fielders. Our top batsmen, Seenu, Venku and
myself should find the gaps and score. Its very easy. Well
practice hard and win the cup along with the prize money..."
At the mention of money, Seenus eyes brightened. He interrupted,
"How much is the prize money?"
Ramu was annoyed. He said, "Dont be bothered about it now.
But as you are our best batsman Ill tell you. The prize for the
winning team is hundred and twenty rupees. Man of the Match will get
seventy. Lets begin the practice from this evening."
Seenu knew he would get the Man of the Match prize money if he scored
more runs than Ramu. Ramu was a talented player and he was made the
captain only because he had the complete cricket set pads, gloves,
oil bat, helmet and wrist bands. Seenu smiled to himself and then winked
From that evening, practice began in full flow. Seenu, as usual, opened
the batting with Ramu. He was confident of scoring at least half-century
in the match, enabling the team to win the cup and most importantly
his share of the cash prize.
There were only four days left for the match. Seenu had still not given
the entry fee. Ramu asked him gently, "Seenu, why dont you
ask your mother or sister?" Seenu didnt want to narrate the
whole story. He remained silent and promised to pay the money next day.
But Seenu knew not how he could get the money.
The next morning, on his way to Nehru Park, Seenu witnessed a terrifying
incident on the busy main road. A white pup walked on to the road from
nowhere. Seenu wanted to help the pup. In a flash, a scooter ran over
it. The little pup whelped in pain. Seenu rushed to the pup and noticed
its bleeding limb. "O, its Mr. Shankars pup,"
he cried. He carried the pup in his arm and walked to the local veterinary
clinic located three blocks away from the main road.
The vet examined the limb and smiled. He said, "Nothing to worry
about. The pup will start running in twenty days." He bandaged
the cut and tapped the pups head. The pup looked kindly at him.
Seenu carried the pup to Mr Shankars house. Mr Shankar, a short
man with a receding hairline, was standing outside the gate with an
anxious look on his face. He looked at his pup and exclaimed, "Ah,
my pup, my pup. Oh, bandage. My pup, my pup
Seenu narrated the incident. Mr Shankar looked at Seenu with benevolent
eyes. He said, "Dear Seenu, you know how much I love this pup.
Its my only companion. Its like my daughter. Its like
my son. Its my child. If it had been killed, I would have become
really sad. I have just ten rupees in my pocket. Please accept it as
a reward. Please take it."
Seenu accepted the money and ran to Nehru Park. The practise had begun.
Ramu demanded an explanation. Seenu silenced Ramu by handing over the
entry fee. Ramu thrust the money in his trousers pocket, nodded his
head and said, "Go pad up. Youre next."
Sunday came, bringing with it sunshine and excitement. The match between
The Rhodes and The Stars took off. The Stars won the toss and elected
to bat first. Seenu and Ramu opened the innings. Seenu hooked the first
ball to the fence. The spectators, made up of of children from the neighbourhood,
clapped and whistled loudly. Seenu was charged. The next ball was hoisted
over the boundary ropes. Ramu went up to Seenu and cautioned him to
stay composed. But Seenu was over the top; he didnt stop the flow
of fours. His fifty came off just forty-one balls. The little spectators
kept screeching in joy.
The Stars finished their innings with a total of one hundred and ten
on the board. Seenu was unbeaten on seventy-four. The Rhodes were disappointed
with their fielding performance. They decided to now score easy runs
as they had four left-handers. The openers scored a brisk thirty, but
they couldnt keep the tempo. Wickets kept falling at regular intervals.
They were bundled out for eighty-eight.
Seenu and Ramu hugged each other. Seenu was impatient to receive the
cash prize money. When he did get it, he was thrilled to bits.
That evening, Seenu went to Googly Sports Store. Today, he opened the
glass door and walked in like a maharaja. The owner eyed him with suspicion.
Seenu said, "Excuse me, could you please pack that oil bat thats
on the top for me." The owner meekly accepted the money from Seenu
and handed over the bat.
Seenu marvelled at the bat and kissed it. He was so happy that words
couldnt explain. On his way back home, he held the bat in his
hand and danced in joy.
At the street corner stood three boys of The Rhodes. One of them snatched
the bat from Seenu and hit it hard on the ground. The bat made a cracking
sound and broke. Seenu was in tears. He was getting angry, but couldnt
do anything because the boys were physically stronger than him. He just
ran homewards with a sad look on his face.
At home was his father, who had just returned from his business trip.
He saw Seenu and asked him, "Sachin, you look unhappy. Whats
the matter?" Seenu told him what happened.
His father consoled him. "Cricket stars never cry. They fight till
the end. Ive got something special for you thatll make you
happy." He opened his bag and took out a gleaming, thick-handled
BDW oil bat. Seenus eyes and mouth widened. He couldnt believe
what he was seeing. It was a similar bat that Sachin Tendulkar possessed.
Seenu touched the bat and caressed it for a long time.
© J. Vinay
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