The Cricket Ground ‘MATCH.’
by Himani Pande
It was a single road and a specific mile-marker to the wrought iron gates of an automobile factory that offered wider pathways, leading to the marriage of Mr. Varun Tyagi of Gannaur to Ms. Anita Gautam of Hapur. His first memory of her is that of Ms. Batsman, striking away with grip and fluid motion, bringing alive the region’s lore with her rush of power and leading scores.
Mr. Tyagi freshly out of BSN Engineering College Nagpur, was newly placed in 1995 as a Project Engineer in Panchkula’s (Chandigarh) NTC Society. On that particular day he was in Hapur, having managed a single day’s leave to go ‘bride -hunting.’ He turned up at two addresses but things didn’t quite click.
Planning to visit his friend in an automobile factory, he headed in destiny’s direction. Just shy of one kilometer to the destination, his car came to a whirring halt in a field of grey rocks, yellowed moss and a profusion of tiny white flowers. ‘Kam Pee Iraq ka Paani Meri Rani’ he mumbled to himself seeing low fuel levels. Next, he was ‘thunderstruck’ by what the ‘field of disrepair’ had to offer. ‘She was lending character to the bat.’ This lady named Anita reminded him of Sachin playing to surpass Brian Lara’s record in Test Cricket. Several youngsters were campaigning applause. Running a slide show in his mind, Mr. Tyagi stretched his imagination to something bigger in the 5 p.m. smell of the field against a crashing stream. Dressed sharp as a whistle, he made polite enquiries about her family. The cricket match led to their happy match.
Today Sanchi the daughter and Shivaansh the son join in the joy jamboree cricket moments. The Tyagis seem to be inspired by Puck the naughty lute playing, peaked eared fairy, carrying a mischievous spark, celebrating life in devious ways especially in the cricket season. On the day of the ICC Champion’s Trophy, Shivaansh was to be picked up from his swimming class. Mr. Tyagi while busy in office, failed to take Mrs. Tyagi’s calls. Mrs. Tyagi finally drove herself to
get Shivaansh home. Meanwhile the maid turned up and left, happy to find the house locked. For the third time Mrs. Tyagi had missed out on the maid, thanks to her husband’s ‘slip of time.’ She sent a Watsapp text (in cahoots with her kids) informing the ‘mohalla’ children that their uncle was organizing a cricket dinner party. What do kids need for a cocktail of happiness? Food, friends and Thums Up and a feuding India Pak Match on tricolor painted faces and hand- made flags!
Fortunately Mr. Tyagi’s purse went to sponsor a much celebrated India’s victory, in Pakistan’s crushing 124 run loss, played with jangling nerves. The ‘prawn sandwich brigade’ enjoyed in the packed Birmingham stadium while uncle and aunt Tyagi enjoyed the desi food court home delivery order with children.
Cricket World Cup 2011 was a cliffhanger. India blew the competition out of the water. In the One Day International played between India and Sri Lanka Mrs. Tyagi was chanting Hanuman Chalisa rapidly, as MS Dhoni and Gambhir were involved in a partnership of 109 at Wankhade Stadium. Things were tense with Gambhir being dismissed for 97 runs in the 42nd over.
Diluting the tension Mr. Tyagi pressed Jim Jam Biscuits with red toothpaste filling and offered them to his wife. Lovingly he extended her a ‘hand beaten coffee’ mug, frothing golden on top. He even prepared sweets of mud cakes covered in coconut powder, using shreds of green peas as pistachios. Mrs. Tyagi had the biscuits but sensed his practical joke about the mud sweets.
What a sporty bonding! They thrill in placing their bets. The outcome of matches occasionally decides the price range of the sarees to be gifted to her, the weekend getaways he would like and much more. She is his cat’s mew but teases him by wearing a T Shirt lettered ‘SACHIN PREFERRED.’ He’s once played along by making her change posture, adjust her hair and smile as broadly as the ‘Laughing Buddha’ only after a couple of clicks to announce that there was no reel loaded in the camera. ***