By G Venkatesh
It has been so since my boyhood days. Quite instinctively, I have had to learn to look for silver linings in dark clouds. By a mixture of choice and compulsion, more of the latter though. I missed the bus often. When this happened literally, the silver linings were the kilometres I aggregated on foot, and in retrospect, considered that a blessing in disguise – a predilection to walking became an obsession and stayed with me.
Metaphorically, the missed bus would make me think and convince myself that what passed me by was not destined for me…it forced me to think laterally and imagine a divine purpose in the delay, which often would fester into a denial and necessitate numbing introspection. I thought of myself as a batsman at the crease being peppered with bouncers and beamers all the time, and having to invent new ways of scoring runs off these…quite like someone once decided to move away and hook and nullify the potency of bouncers. Just when I thought I had fought away the worse, deadly toe-crushers were being hurled at me, and I had to learn not only to block them but also dexterously play them on the leg-side and score runs. Bouncers, beamers and toe-crushers kept coming and I had to counter them. I felt exhausted. Tired. Were the rewards just the runs I was scoring, during these testing times?
‘Great work, bro…keep going. You are an inspiration.’ Every non-striker who would come in to partner me would say. The same compliment. Repeatedly. ‘Okay, but I am tired of setting examples, which I really do not wish to,’ I would think to myself.
I would wait patiently for the calm after the storm. Perhaps, the captain of the fielding side would bring on a gentler seam-bowler who would just bowl a good length on or outside the off-stump and enable me to relax into my orthodoxy.
Perhaps, there would be slow spinners who would give me a little bit of respite…Perhaps…Perhaps… But what if I become so exhausted by having to deal with these bouncers and yorkers and beamers for the sake of my team, that I get out? Of course, my teammates coming in at the right time, and facing the right bowlers would reap the rewards. Good for the team, they say. Is that how it will always be?
‘No, bro. There will be other teams with bowlers who are not so hostile as these ones. And there, you will be able to bat without a care, in fact.’ A friend counselled me, and wanted me to pat myself on the back for doing what many others may not be able to. I wonder. Time is fleeting past. Where are these other teams?
If I am wont to just facing the metaphorical bouncers all the while, I may well end up forgetting everything else. And yes, most importantly, age catches up, while one waits and expects something well-deserved – rather richly deserved and long overdue sense of being divinely protected – to just appear out of thin air, you realise you have to bid adieu.
What is right, I think to myself? Is it just being at the right place at the right time interacting with the right person? But how do I make it happen? It happens, they say. If destined to, they add. It is this addition that I did not want to hear. ‘You have to trust and have faith, only then it will happen,’ a smart alec chips in. And then, I think, what if this faith is shaken momentarily, and the trust is eroded by merciless winds of ill-luck and misfortune? Do I then lose, and does all the faith I nursed in my heart till that moment of crisis, just evaporate into nothingness? Just as getting out on 99 is not equivalent to having scored a century?
The more bitter the struggle, much better is the reward, says a holy man. ‘Much better’. Now, that is a comparative form of the adjective ‘good’, right? Much better than what? What is the reference point? Much better than the reward obtained by one who did not have to go through as bitter a struggle as I did? And does God really know what would make me feel vindicated? For when I look around, ponder the past and introspect, nothing that comes to mind seems to have the ability to provide me with that vindication which will at once make all the pain and trauma, all the sleepless nights and nagging doubts go away. So, is there something which my mind is not in a position to imagine, that may be found in God’s Santa-sack of Christmas gifts?
I make myself a cup of coffee, and pad up to face the bouncers of the day that has dawned. I am out there at the crease, waiting for my batting partner and the fielding side. The sun is smiling at me, sarcastically. There is a crow on the pitch…perhaps, a dear departed one has sent some message. It stays for a while, then flies away.
G Venkatesh (50) is a Chennai-born, Mumbai-bred ‘global citizen’ who currently serves as Associate Professor at Karlstad University in Sweden. He has published 4 volumes of poetry and 4 e-textbooks, inter alia.
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