In a family of 10 children,I was the ninth; born 62 years ago in a sleepy little town on the eastern coast of peninsular India.
The world that I was born into was a lot different from what it is now in terms of the lifestyles of people.The present day conviniences and comforts were absent then. But 'comforting' I got in ample measure whenever I was in distress!
My mother as also the six brothers and two sisters who are elder to me, pampered me; pampered only up to certain limits permitted by the dictates of dicipline and restricted by the limitation on resources caused due to the sad and sudden demise of my father.
Their love for me was boundless!
At that point of time, giving good education to the younger brothers was of utmost concern for my older brothers. As a result of this, all of us got good education and could do very well in our lives.
In the large middle class families like ours all expenses were pre-budgeted and pocket money for children was unknown in those days. Given the conditions as they were, we the younger ones followed good financial dicipline.
It was fun growing up in such a big loving family!
Until I joined college where sporting facilities are available, I was happy practising only gully cricket for relaxation.
Most of the times I used to be fielding in the deep third man position. During practice, I rarely used to get a chance to bat and almost never a chance to bowl!
The field gear for playing consisted of four bamboo sticks. The bat belonged to one of the team members and he got it as a gift from his father! This was a very costly and rare gift in those days.
The owner of the bat was ipsofacto the captain of the team and he could call all the shots!
Pads, guards and gloves including the wicket keeper's were unaffordable. However the ball used for playing was a regular leather one bought on contributary basis; a rupee from each player.
Even when I could not pay my contribution, I used to still go to watch the others practising. As the wicket keeper was not provided with the required protective gear, most of the times he used to go through all the movements like in test matches only to let go the ball!
There used to be thus a need for a deep third man right on the boundary line to stop/retrieve the ball. The captain(who owns the bat) perforce used to ask me to take up that position and field.
Because of my great love for the game,I used to do this with the utmost dedication. My fielding skills got honed up in the process!
Perhaps to keep me motivated, the captain was once in a while allowing me to bat. I always made the best use of these chances to sharpen my batting skills. I soon realised that for one to become good at batting,one has to be fearless and should never take his eyes off the ball right from the time that it leaves the bowler's hand till it is dispatched properly for runs.
Also one should never leave the stumps and shuffle towards legside even when the bowler is throwing bodyline. Afterall there is a bat in hand!
The mantra is 'stay there! runs will come your way!'
Is it not equally true for our lives? Stay on and maintain the right poise. Everything that's due comes your way!
Whenever another team challenged ours for a weekend game, I always was in the playing eleven of our team because I could save a lot of runs fielding at deep third man position in addition to chipping in with a few runs myself.
Whatever is to be done is to be done with gusto!
Whenever I ruminate on these childhood happenings,the words of Bharat Ratna M.Visweswarayya ring in my ears- "If your job is to sweep,sweep it in the best possible way that none can excel you..."