“I remembered the day when the Kabuliwala and my Mini had first met, and I felt sad.”
Reminiscing the days gone by, Rabindranath Tagore in his acclaimed short story Kabuliwala proceeds to paint a picture of loss as he eloquently describes the timeline of human relationships, right from the initial days of fascination to the eventual phase of adieu. The moments of adoration that somehow always give way to a sense of boredom brings with it its own sense of nostalgia, as the vagaries of time and the impact that it plays on bonds is psychologically analyzed.
Time. Oh! How it rushes by! The mind races back, shuffling between flashbacks to finally settle upon a distant memory that brings joy. A genuine happy smile that rises out of literally nowhere to brighten up a day that is filled with monotonous humdrum. The problems evaporate albeit for a few seconds; the going seems bearable and the past, oh the past, is where the soul longs to go back to.
As a white-bearded individual was engulfed in a cacophony of boos at the hallowed cricket ground of Lord’s at London, it was rather strange to experience a series of hallucinations far removed from the actual happenings on the TV screen. The very first run-out that threatened to hamper his career. As he scurried away to ground his bat in vain, the face of uncertainty loomed large. Would cricket close its doors on the long-haired wicket-keeper who had started off his journey towards cricket from the football field? Or would the management give in to ruthlessness, snatching away further chances when one opportunity had been wasted?
The white beard was hard to miss. It had grown from an admirable salt-and-pepper to a clear and a distinct hue, bordering on whitish-grey. An old, old man. A 37-year-old who took on the stress of the entire country single-handedly, soaking up the accolades and rubbing against the criticism. The applause that had come pouring after a scintillating knock of 148 against arch-rivals Pakistan. The innings of 183 in Sawai Man Singh Stadium that proved how very powerful those muscles actually were. Sixes followed fours followed more sixes and there he was, making a mockery of the bowling; making a joke of the best of bowlers.
As Axar Patel ran out from the dressing room to send across a message in the second ODI, the sense of desperation was clear. Hoick one out of the ground. Show the crowd your value. Display your fighting spirit. Hoick one out of the ground! The next delivery, a slower ball on the good length that was slogged away. In the air… the boundary rope seems afar. The crowd, waiting with bated breath… The camp, waiting with bated breath… The six that won the World Cup 2nd April 2011 is hard to forget. The occasion that heralded a new dawn in Indian Cricket’s history. The boos, replaced by passionate screams of Vande Mataram as Nuwan Kulasekara could only watch in awe and disbelief as the ball was tonked away over and above into the night sky. Revelry and shock. Disbelief and tears. Screams and chants. It was mania!
But fantasy stopped when the deep mid-wicket latched on to an easy catch. A dismissal that brought it with a sense of relief. The snail-paced innings should have been interrupted earlier, before his calibre and his ability were put to test. An innings that showed just how time had eroded the skills of one of the most dangerous cricketers in the era. The best finisher. The Man with the Midas Touch. The Golden Player. India’s Prodigal Son. All encapsulating into one name, Mahendra Singh Dhoni.
The gold-streaked locks, symbolizing his youthful vigour. His neatly trimmed hair showing off his calm maturity. His bald shave displaying a promise that he had made to his motherland. A white-beard, narrating his journey from being the nation’s dear idol to the country’s biggest villain. Time, they say does alter emotions after all.