26 comments

Fiction Middle School

Surya switched on his TV to see the ICC World Test Championship final between New Zealand and India. In the pandemic caused by Covid-19, and having to be confined to his home for months together, his retired life received some solace from the ‘idiot box’, of seeing some exciting serials, movies and cricket matches like the one in question; all this, when he was not busy otherwise in his various pursuits and hobbies.

What a relief to see the cricketers all in white with light cream-coloured pullovers having the classic double borders; a far cry from the motley ‘uniforms’ donned by the players in international cricket tournaments in the prevailing two other formats. It reminded him much about the time that he used to play cricket for his school in a prestigious inter-school tournament. He would be dressed in spotless white shirt and full pant, all of thirteen years of age, and would stride out confidently to the wicket with a singular aim of garnering the maximum number of runs for his school and, oh, of course of keeping wickets with elan and swift reflexes.

Those were the days, in the summer of ’69, when the cricket tournament was played in a format extending for three days, with breaks for lunch and drinks. Surya would be very excited when a match was scheduled at his school ground where he could get the cheers and applause from his classmates in abundance which would spur him on to put on his best performance.

He was revelling in those nostalgic memories, when the Indian batsman at the crease executed an exquisite cover drive, in copy-book style, which made the ball roll all the way to the boundary. Surya gave a wide grin and clapped instinctively. ‘After a lull, the score-board is sure ticking away’, he thought, as he reached for another morsel of his favourite onion pakora that his wife, Usha, had doled out affectionately for him on a platter along with coriander and mint chutney. By all accounts, the wicket had shown signs of aiding the bowlers after the spell of rain which had played spoil-sport and the outfield, too, was not helpful to the batsmen in any way; nevertheless, the power behind the stroke which had despatched the ball to the boundary had surmounted the disadvantage posed by the lovely green ground all around the pitch.

The rattled bowler tried to make amends by swinging the ball both ways, for the remaining part of the over, but the batsman was well-settled in his crease. It was time for drinks and the play was adjourned for that tiny break when the players refreshed themselves with soft drinks and the like. The match got underway immediately thereafter and Surya, after quickly using the loo, came back to his sofa with his favourite pakoras within easy reach.

The New Zealand captain continued his pace attack with the fast-medium bowlers getting the bite off the pitch as the ball kept swinging off the air and on the pitch with sustained ferocity. And then the unfortunate incident happened; a youthful-looking but big-built bowler sent down one of his bouncers at a speed of 135kph which, after traversing the air, hit the batsman bang-on in the area of his left temple. His helmet cracked at the side and a piece flew off. Thoroughly shaken, he stood aside the wicket and removed his helmet. After massaging the side of his face for about ten seconds, he decided to resume his innings. The helmet had saved him from a possible serious head injury. Soon, as the match progressed, the incident was forgotten; but, for Surya, it took him on another trip down memory lane.

During those days when he played for his school, protective gear such as helmets had not been introduced in the game. So, apart from the pads and gloves that he wore when he was a wicket-keeper, there was nothing else that was available to protect him from the fury of the pace bowlers of the day. All the body-hits or the punches that he got on his thighs while batting were duly attended to either immediately or after the innings was over. Rarely though it was, that any player was seriously injured by any pace delivery.

However, in one of the critical encounters which his school had with the then holders of the trophy, at the knock-out stage, excitement was running high with the adrenalin rising in everyone’s veins. The existing champions were in a dismal situation in their first innings with both their openers out for no score. Number three and number four batsmen were at the crease and his school’s pace attack was still being invoked. Imran was their star bowler who always returned with startling averages that would have been any bowler’s delight.

As Imran went back to the top of his run-up, Surya was joking with his chum, Bhuvan, in the first slip. As Imran turned round and came at a fast clip, Surya positioned himself at a respectable distance behind the wicket. Down came Imran’s good-length ball, eluding the batman who had intended to play on the forward foot. It hit the middle stump with a thump and as the batsman walked away in dismay, Surya and the other fielders joined in the celebration of cheering, clapping and complimenting Imran. Little did Surya realize that, though the ball had come across the pitch with full force, it had only hit the top of the middle stump, flicked the bails and had continued its trajectory beyond the wicket towards him. Consequently, when complacency at seeing the batsman getting out had got the better of his senses, Surya was in a very vulnerable position when the ball, after hitting the stump flew straight at his face. He was struck on the side of his nose below the bridge and was felled by the hit. Bleeding profusely, he was lying on the ground for about five seconds, before Imran, who happened to notice the accident, on his follow-through, came running down the pitch and, carrying the young Surya in his arms, ran towards the school’s infirmary where the young lad was immediately administered first aid. Later on, he was rushed to the nearby hospital for an X-ray. The medical examination did not reveal any fracture, but there was a severe concussion on account of the impact of the five-and-a- half ounce ball striking the nose at an estimated speed of 100kph. According to the doctors, it had been a miraculous escape for Surya from more severe injury.

As for Imran, his white shirt and pant were soaked in blood. Fearing the worst, if he were to go home in that attire, he called for fresh clothes from his residence and, changing into these at the end of the day’s play, he made his way homeward.

Surya looked back and reminisced that, but for the timely intervention and action by Imran to arrange to provide him with medical aid, his situation could have aggravated to a more serious consequence.        


THE END        


June 25, 2021 12:28

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26 comments

Melody Frost
15:36 Jun 29, 2021

I really enjoyed reading your story, Mr.Menon. Looking forward to your stories in the future.

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Sudhir Menon
16:09 Jun 29, 2021

Oh, thank you ma'am. It's very gracious of you to say so.

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Melody Frost
16:41 Jun 29, 2021

You can just, call me Melody.....

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Sudhir Menon
17:29 Jun 29, 2021

Oh, great, if you say so. Hope to read more of your writing soon.

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Melody Frost
03:06 Jun 30, 2021

Me too. Looking forward to your stories in the future.

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Austin Diaz
18:14 Jul 01, 2021

Very much enjoyed this story. I know next to nothing about cricket, but I could follow it through Surya's eyes. The insight about the uniforms was great, I feel like I learned something, which I always appreciate when reading. The prose here is very precise, excellent syntactical construction, but there's a preponderance of relatives clauses (which/that/whom, so forth) that I feel sometimes unnecessarily slows the rhythm of the sentences, if that makes sense. What I also really liked was bookending the story with the white uniforms and I...

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Sudhir Menon
07:09 Jul 02, 2021

Thank you for the gracious and elaborate review of my story. I am happy to know you liked the story in totality. The two observations you have made are a perfect recipe to liven up the story a bit and a guide for future writing. I thank you, once again, for having taken the time out to pen a sincere feedback. I shall read your story too, once I'm able to locate it.

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09:01 Jun 30, 2021

A very nicely written story. I loved it and I hope to read more of your work.

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Sudhir Menon
09:47 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you. Glad to know that you liked the story.

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Linda Smith
04:21 Jun 30, 2021

linda smith,thank you for reading my story,i am upset that you think that i know nothing about caring for kangaroos,the less-protected species as you call them. i have cared for joeys for over 15 years,vets come to me for advice,every species needs to be cared for,or they will be no more,unless you have cared for one you would not know,and yes i have trouble spelling,unlike you it makes writing hard for me ,and i am also a author,have sold many books.cheers!

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Sudhir Menon
04:35 Jun 30, 2021

Thank you for the feedback. I believe you have missed my point about your taking care of the kangaroos and joeys. What I meant by saying 'less protected' was that protection for these animals is probably not forthcoming from the authorities as it should be. I did not intend to discredit in any way the yeoman service that you have been extending to the animals. Meanwhile, I wish you well in your journey as an author.

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Linda Smith
01:36 Jul 01, 2021

Thank you Sudhir,sorry i miss under stood you,cheers!

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Linda Smith
01:36 Jul 01, 2021

Thank you Sudhir,sorry i miss under stood you,cheers!

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Sudhir Menon
02:34 Jul 01, 2021

Absolutely no issues. Thank you for your understanding.

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Lynda Ann Singh
14:02 Jun 29, 2021

I like how your story started with the present situation. Excellent descriptions - I felt like I was seeing the events as the happened and Sudhir is eating one of my favourites - oniion pakoras!.

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Sudhir Menon
15:20 Jun 29, 2021

Thanks, Lynda, for your gracious feedback.

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Nk Menon
09:18 Jun 29, 2021

Sudhir, A story, so beautifully woven around current topics (Covid, ICC World Test Match) and a personal painful experience. Presume Imran has read your story!... Excellent... Keep Writing!

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Sudhir Menon
09:59 Jun 29, 2021

Thanks, as always, for your inspirational comments. I have no clue, where Imran is now, but I remember him as one of the fastest and accurate bowlers during my school years.

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04:23 Jun 29, 2021

A very well-written story, Mr. Menon. Cricket has been my passion for as long as I can remember. Naturally, I got drawn to your story from the start. As the story progressed, I was beginning to wonder why you preferred not to name the players. I realised then that it was the story of the narrator, not about the WTC finale. The autobiographical elements of the story are what makes it a standout. Keep writing. Thanks for sharing. Stay safe and blessed.

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Sudhir Menon
05:22 Jun 29, 2021

Oh, thank you very much, Mr. Bhattacharjee. I am glad you liked my story. You guessed it right. It was an incident which happened to me, as a wicket-keeper, when I was playing for my school, Don Bosco in Park Circus, Calcutta. Wish you all the best in your journey as an author. 'Dhonnobad', as you would say in Bengali.

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Umaya E
15:39 Jun 27, 2021

Your style of writing is very interesting. This was relatable. Keep writing Sudhir!

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Sudhir Menon
15:42 Jun 27, 2021

Thank you.

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Anitha Menon
18:34 Jun 26, 2021

The story appears to be true to life and interesting to anyone reading books on a daily routine

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Sudhir Menon
18:35 Jun 26, 2021

Thanks.

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Pratima Menon
10:38 Jun 26, 2021

Sudhir, good story again. While reading I remembered my mother telling my about her father getting injured everytime he played as a wicket keeper in the 1940s in mangalore.

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Sudhir Menon
11:59 Jun 26, 2021

Thanks. Actually, the story is about me.

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