I started playing cricket with Babu again. He was glad
to see me back in action. The Durga Colony boys had a team,
but I didn't play for them. I played for the Greamspet Team,
which was captained by Babu. The Colony boys didn't like
it and yes, I didnít like their xenophobia too but I couldn't
care less. I played for Babu's team earlier and I decided
I'd play for them now. The Colony boys were a hotheaded
lot. We had matches every weekend in the Arts College grounds.
The town team, the senior team of Chittoor that is, occupied
the main ground and we took the other one that was right
below the main ground. In the first match I played against
the Colony, the Colony boys booed me. This kind of affected
my bowling. I was trained in Greamspet- a place that boasted
of very talented cricket players. Iíd learnt bowling the
hard way with the Greamspet guys. So I somehow managed to
put up a decent performance.
Each team had twenty-five overs to play. The Colony team
was all out in the middle of the fifteenth over. I took
three wickets. I relished this, a personal victory, against
the Colony boys who refused to accept me as one of them.
They would not allow me to join in their practice matches,
which took place in the Colony playground, near the pond.
After seven or eight matches, Babu's team members protested
to him. They were not happy about my playing in their team.
There was not much that Babu could do, so before he faced
further trouble, I quit his team. He was sorry, but I told
him that it was all right.
I met Uday, two days later, in the grocery store. "You
play for the Greamspet team, right?" he inquired.
"Used to. They can't have a Colony boy in their team
and the Colony boys don't like my face," I said smiling.
"I'm Uday and I'm facing the same problem. They can't
accept a new comer here," he said and shook hands with
me. His home was near the entrance of the Colony, which
was not considered a part of the Colony by the wise boys
of Durga Colony; some territorial romanticism that was boring
to mull over.
"The boys near the entrance have formed a team and
I'm the vice- captain. You can join us if you would like
Why not? "Sure!" I said. We practised in a dried
out paddy field for a month.
"We will play a match against the Colony team",
"Who will ask them?" Raja, the captain of the
I stayed inside the Colony, so I decided to mediate. We
named our team 'Tigers'. The next day, I went to Dharam's
house. He was the captain of the Colony team.
"Want to play a match against us?" I asked him.
"You are not in Greamspet Team," he announced,
as if he had just found out the deepest secret of the CIA.
"No, I'm with the entrance gang. We have put a team
"Well, well, sure. Why not, but we play it in our
ground, in the Colony."
It was their home turf. "Ok," I agreed.
The match started at two on Sunday afternoon. They won
the toss and they elected to field first. We scored a hundred
and thirty runs in the allotted twenty-five overs. The umpires
were biased but we expected this as they were from the colony.
I shared the new ball with Raja. By the time they sent their
openers to the crease, there was a sizeable crowd in the
ground. I was nervous. I gripped the shiny, red cork ball
and started my run up and a huge 'Boo' erupted from one
section of the crowd. I pitched it short and Kumar pulled
it over midwicket for a four.
Uday walked up to me. "Don't worry about these jokers.
See those three stumps there? Pitch it up there. Don't lose
Yes, I told myself, pitch it up, right up in the block
hole. The next ball was an over-pitched ball on the off-stump
and Kumar drove through the covers for another four. There
was panic in our camp. "Baby-cut, baby-cut!" they
were screaming. 'Baby-cut' was given to a bowler when he
bowled miserably. He will have to stop after the third ball.
It is not a cricketing practice but these guys had invented
it, God knows why. I took my own time for the third ball.
Raja could give me a 'baby-cut' if I messed up the third
ball. I knew he wouldn't do it, as it was not considered
decent. I was under tremendous pressure. I started my run
up and halfway through it, I had a brilliant idea. I am
not going to bowl this one fast. I wanted Kumar to think
that I was going to fire it in with all guns blazing. I
had a fierce expression on my face, the trademark of a fast
bowler. I wanted him to think that I was hurt, that I was
going to give all that I have got to this delivery. A fraction
of a second before I released the ball, I loosened up my
shoulder, cut the speed of my action and bowled a little
slower. It was an off spinner and an absolute beauty. Kumar
played it too soon as expected. The ball took ages to reach
his bat and even before it arrived, Kumar was halfway through
his shot. He top-edged and the ball spooned up in the air.
"Leave it, it is mine!" I shouted as I followed
I took the catch and threw the ball hard on the ground
and did a tribal war dance, right there. I lifted my arms
high and let out a huge howl which was directed at the booing
crowd. I only took two wickets. Uday took five and the rest
were run outs. We won the match by a comfortable margin.
We beat them in their home turf, despite hurdles like biased
umpiring and a hostile audience. We played against every
team in town and had a seventy- percent victory record.
Just before my exams started, Uday left town as his father
was transferred to Kurnool. Two other team members, Sasi
and Kiran moved to another area in Chittoor. The team gradually
broke up. After the exams, which I wrote well, Raja and
I wanted to play again, but there was no team.
One fine June morning, Kumar from the colony team approached
us. "Would you like to join our team? Let us forget
our hostilities and be friends. What do you say?"
We were too decent to refuse a proposal like that. We were
part of the colony gang now. I was their number two bowler
and Raja was the number one.
The exam results were out and I passed it with an aggregate
of sixty-seven percent, a not-so-bad effort. Dad was happy.
"You are joining the B.Z. School for eighth standard,"
he announced one fine day. "And you won't be going
to school in a bus anymore."
I was disappointed. B.Z. was three kilometres away and
I did not walk that distance for a fortune.
"You will be getting a bicycle soon," said Dad.
Wow! That was fantastic! My dream had come true finally.
I got a metallic red BSA-SLR after a week. I was proud of
my new bicycle. I pedalled along Turtle Neck, with the wind
beating against me. I pedalled along the pond, with those
noisy frogs looking on. I pedalled down the colony main
road, like a knife through butter, in the down gradient.
All the boys from Little Flower joined B.Z. as boys were
not allowed to continue after the seventh standard there.
The girls remained in Little Flower. A few boys were missing.
Raghu Ram was missing. Trishanker was missing. Nevertheless,
it was fun time again.
My school started at seven forty-five in the morning and
ended at twelve forty-five in the afternoon. In the afternoons,
I went fishing in the pond with Biju, our neighbour who
was in his sixth standard at Little Flower. I also made
friends with Basha from the West Side of the colony. Sethu,
Biju's classmate joined us too. Basha was in his eighth
standard, but he was in the Mundy School. We went trekking,
fishing and to the movies together. Soon we formed a gang.
This gang looked promising and long-term. This gang looked