54 Years without a Win / Big Match Memories Maroon and Blue.

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Big Match Season, 2012. Kingswood against Dharmaraja; the 106th Encounter.

This incident
In the good year, 2004;
Where, in a naive shirt,
Black stripes on blue,
I walk near Albert Crescent trying not to
Look too much like you — and there

It happens: a van of kids, white tops,
Flags fluttering like those flags usually do, shout
“Ado, Thora! Hoooooooooo!”

And I am, like, thumbs up;
And them are like happy as to be happy
Flag waving kids could be
And one of them, pointed finger,
Perpendicular thumb, cocks his eye; pulls
The trigger on me:

The closest that I have been
To Old School Big Match glory.
Been to mine, of course; but, like my books,
That is another story.

I

So, here goes — that story,
Post Big Match 1991,
— A few days after, perhaps —
Tall, tree-like Prefect
To the Grade 2 classroom comes.

Teacher is absent, today,
And someone whispers, “Cricket Captain”
And someone else picks up the whisper
Like a desperate catch, close to ground.

Skipper looks around and then
writes on the board:
“Integers” — Dhana Saha Rina Sankya.

So, he fucks up, in his un-padded glory
The day the teacher, to school, didn’t come.

II

Perhaps you may have never heard of him:
That is because he ran out the captain on 03
And, then, attempting an ambitious sweep
He top edged it to deep
Mid wicket and when he walked back

Someone said that “in Cricket
There’s no place for losers —
And you are one”. Removing his pads
He didn’t say much, pretending with
A sheepish smile to absorb the hostility
Of the room, for a while.

Oh, come on — you should have said:
“Oh, come on, Kingswood First XI:
As if you have won a whole lot of games!”
In 2012, we are 54 years old
Since that last Big Match win. Sighing, noendi untold.

III

Prefects, sometimes, are like zoo animals
And, on show, they perform various antics,
Like, standing around the boundary rope
As 11 fielders and 2 batsmen play.

“He must be somewhere there!” I tell you
And you: “Well, where?”
Somewhere there — I point out vaguely
Where you — Monitor — must be standing
In the periphery of the rope.

“There!” I spot you.
“Where?” you ask; “There —
See, the round hat just underneath
The Grand Stand” and you arch your brows
To take a assured look at you.

A few minutes later you are gone.
“Will give him some water and come!”
And you are already gone, dangling a bottle
From its ribbony cord. And there we make it official —
The Prefect and you.

IV

The prefect and you —
And you are several continents away, today,
And if you see this, perhaps,
You will laugh along with me.
The prefect, older, still laughs
Like a goat. Nah —
“The prefect and you” was just in sport; a game
And even if the two of you were
Things, to me, would still be the same.

Good natured boys, we are
As, as remembered, we were. The Big Match, just a
School sponsored excuse for a day out.
We who didn’t booze —
The unimaginative ones.

V

Band Guy, he, of my senior batch
Is a sight to see,
Dead stoned and drained,
Being helped to his feet,
Fumbling again; again.

Between the Stand and the Old Pavilion
We stand — you crack jokes
And miss all the wickets that fall
And — with no replay on the ground —
For once, Kingswood’s on a roll.

“Adoh, I missed that one also”
And another wicket falls:
“And that one also” and you’re laughing
As yet another Rajan, to the hut, makes his walk.
An unpopular captain stops his critics talk.

VI

No asset-revealing women
Peddling attitude and bum:
Only the players’ mothers and gals
And we’re not obliged to come.

You bite your nails, where all de women
Who, like, to the Trinity Cricket go?
Even the ones who are here look down all modest
And next to bare minimum show.

“In another 10 years, machan” — you promise
That the chicks and hens are gonna strut.
I close my eyes — ten years, ten years:
Pot belly, no match for a skinless butt.

VII

We lost last year, we may lose
Again — maybe we won’t.
Generations we have perfected “drawing”
In times bad; in times good. You realize

In a curious way, sitting behind
A curious job, far away from Paradise,
Your school days all gathered dust — in a
Curious smile it comes back curiously enough:
Kingswood is way too heavy of what you had.

So, you “like” a Facebook photo
Or share for the hundredth time
Some KCK link. Check the song on youtube
Even as your eyes, nostalgic, refuse to blink.

Follow rugby updates, though no longer
Do you go there; but, you’re seriously jilted
When the boys your daylights scare:
Trinity — 43; KCK — 00.
“They’re mad, men — Our buggers”;
Blame the coach, vitamins, the planets and gods.

On FB — “Ohhhhhh, KCK!!!
Mokada machan.la une????”

Way way too heavy:
And your girlfriend doesn’t see what you mean.
Your wife doesn’t get it.
They, busy, rummage the tool box for a spanner; and
For those who do not see it
This hallucination’s worse than Blaze’s ghost.

But, every time the anthem’s playing
— Be it years later from the last
Time you’ve heard it — every time those words
Come out loud, you know what I mean:
You know what you feel.
You know — even if you have ever ever doubted it —
That it is somewhere there; and real.

2012-03-08

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