I LOVER

Love sur­mounts all odds.

Woman's Era - - Contents - Ar­jun Mukher­jee

Wel­come ev­ery­one, to the brand new cricket con­test, The Di­wali Crack­ers. This is Su­jit and along with me is Ra­jiv. We will take you through this thrilling com­pe­ti­tion.” Ra­jiv took charge with un­con­trol­lable ex­cite­ment, “Hey guys, the wait is fi­nally over. In a few min­utes from now the much-awaited con­test will start but be­fore that let me just re­ca­pit­u­late how it all started. Di­wali sig­ni­fies hap­pi­ness, cel­e­bra­tion, to­geth­er­ness and what else does the same, Su­jit?”

“Of course, cricket, and that is the very rea­son we brought them to­gether.” The Di­wali Crack­ers will not only il­lu­mi­nate Di­wali night but also make the day as colour­ful as ever.

“Bound­aries over bound­aries, wick­ets and the un­be­liev­able catches.

“It started with a vi­sion but when as many as 54 clubs reg­is­tered, we knew we were on the right track.

“Of those 54 clubs, 32 were short­listed and post the league ses­sion the top eight were se­lected.

“To­day, on the aus­pi­cious day of Di­wali, there will be quar­ter-fi­nals fol­lowed by semis and then the grand fi­nale, in the two ad­ja­cent grounds.

“No more 20Twenty, it’s time for even more rock­ing 10Ten. Well, as you are aware, the very first match is be­tween the home team Moulali Masters and Bagui­hati Blues. Just for your in­for­ma­tion the Moulali Masters have won the toss and have elected to bat, so it’s time for the elec­tri­fy­ing Shrawan.”

The lo­cal crowd cheered as Shrawan geared up to open. He knew very well that his club was heav­ily de­pen­dent on him but what was even more crit­i­cal, was a per­sonal bat­tle for him. “So here we go,” Su­jit was all an­i­mated, “The very first ball, the fastest bowler to the hard­est hit­ter! Gosh! he is clean bowled!”

So­nia felt in­sulted, “Well, all I wanted was to re­turn your money, never mind.” She went away. Shrawan ran after her. “I am sorry. I am un­e­d­u­cated guy, don’t know how to talk to high class girls like you.”

Ra­jiv grabbed the mike, “What an open­ing for Bagui­hati Blues, they have got the pre­cious wicket of Shrawan in the first ball it­self. Need­less to say the Moulali Masters are in deep trou­ble.”

The home crowd was speech­less as Shrawan walked out of the ground. In­stinc­tively, he turned around and looked at the first floor of the third build­ing from the left. Yes, So­nia stood there on the ve­ran­dah at the very same place where he saw her for the first time, ex­actly a year ago.

It was the Di­wali of 2014. Shrawan was hav­ing his prac­tice ses­sions. Joy tried to pitch in a yorker but Shrawan smartly stepped for­ward and con­verted it into a full toss and hit hard. As luck would have it, the ball lofted and broke the glass win­dow of an ad­ja­cent build­ing. So­nia was flared up as she walked up to the ve­ran­dah. “Who did it?” she sounded up­set. The guys got scared and all of them pointed to­wards Shrawan.

“Hey you, come here,” she told him. Shrawan came for­ward. “What is this?” “I don’t know much about woman’s cloth­ing but think the green is churi­daar, the pink is Anarkali but you look solid in pink,” Shrawan said in his bro­ken English.

So­nia was busy se­lect­ing her dress for the even­ing pro­gramme when the ball rudely in­ter­rupted her rever­ies. In a hurry she car­ried both the dresses in her hand.

She handed over the dresses to the sales­man and rushed to­wards Shrawan, “Mis­ter, can you see the big hole in our win­dow? Shrawan apol­o­gised. “Sorry, worry se nahi chalega boss, come on take out 500 bucks.”

“I don’t have much money,” pleaded Shrawan.

“How much do you have? Let’s see,” So­nia snatched his wal­let. Shrawan stood help­lessly as she took out the 3 crum­pled ` 100 notes.

“Leave one note, I don’t have any,” pleaded Shrawan.

So­nia smiled and quipped. “Serves you right.”

So­nia along with her par­ents had moved into this lower mid­dle class colony about a month back. Poor mill work­ers resided here. She hailed from a de­cent fam­ily, but her dad had to sell off ev­ery­thing for her mother’s treat­ment and had to move here. What was worse, he still could not save her. Ini­tially, So­nia was feel­ing suf­fo­cated but with time she slowly started adapt­ing to their way of liv­ing so much so she was look­ing for­ward to at­tend­ing the Di­wali bash that will take place that night.

Shrawan, on the other hand, was born and brought up here. He was to­tally cool with this tapori style of liv­ing. If any­thing mat­tered to him it was cricket. Shrawan was in­deed a class act. In spite of his fa­ther’s daily ad­mon­ish­ment he was not will­ing to give up on his dream of rep­re­sent­ing In­dia and worked as an of­fice boy in some pri­vate firm.

The Di­wali bash had started. Old Hindi movie songs were dished out one after the other as So­nia walked to the field. So­nia was a stun­ner and she was look­ing very pretty in the pink Anarkali. By now she had made just one friend, Shee­tal, who hap­pened to be a dar­ling. She had planned to make more friends that day. How­ever, the way most of the boys and girls were danc­ing, So­nia started re­con­sid­er­ing her de­ci­sion to be­friend them.

It was then that she spot­ted Shrawan who was with his friends ar­gu­ing about some­thing. Cu­ri­ously, she moved ahead. Soon, she came to know the rea­son for the ar­gu­ment. Shrawan and his friends had planned to buy crack­ers to cel­e­brate Di­wali. The crack­ers were bought but now Shrawan was un­able to con­trib­ute his share for ob­vi­ous rea­sons. So­nia felt bad.

“Ex­cuse me, can I in­ter­rupt?” she asked.

“No,” Shrawan sounded ir­ri­tated, “look, I don’t have money. If you want more, I will play a match in three days then I will be able to pay ` 200. Now leave.”

So­nia felt in­sulted, “Well, all I wanted was to re­turn your money, never mind.” She went away.

Shrawan ran after her. “I am sorry, I am an un­e­d­u­cated guy, don’t know how to talk to high class girls like you.”

So­nia had de­vel­oped a soft spot for Shrawan, “Here, take your money.”

“Thanks a lot, ac­tu­ally I not want to take it as I mis­take but I take it for I‘m poor.” You make it re­ally funny,” laughed So­nia. “I self Shrawan.” “I am So­nia,” she replied with a con­trolled smile.

Shrawan put his hand for­ward.

“Well,” So­nia said, “ac­tu­ally you should not of­fer to shake hands with a girl un­less she of­fers first.”

“Oh, I sorry,” Shrawan im­me­di­ately put his hand down.

So­nia gig­gled,” You don’t re­ally in­ter­act with girls, do you?” “Not beau­ti­ful like you,” Shrawan ad­mit­ted. “Do you join us?”

“Well,” So­nia didn’t know what to say.

“Don’t worry I and friends not as bad as you think.”

“Okay,” So­nia nod­ded.

It was the time of her life. Their com­pany was amaz­ing. No pre­ten­tion, no in­hi­bi­tion. So­nia might have turned 17 a cou­ple of months back, but she had not ex­pe­ri­enced the un­abashed raw­ness of youth till that day. So­nia thor­oughly en­joyed the trans­for­ma­tion.

Post din­ner, So­nia said, “Had a great time, got to go now.” “You dance I?” dared Shrawan, point­ing

So­nia along with her par­ents had moved into this lower mid­dle class colony about a month back. Poor mill work­ers resided here. She hailed from a de­cent fam­ily, but her dad had to sell off ev­ery­thing for her mother’s treat­ment and had to move here.

to­wards the dance floor. “No, I can’t dance you, I mean dance with you,” So­nia cor­rected her­self.

“Door door se, no touch wouch,” Shrawan was ab­so­lutely shame­less.

So­nia agreed hes­i­tantly. So Shrawan and So­nia danced as the lo­cal DJ played, Aaj main hoon aur tum ho aur mo­ho­bat hai.

That Di­wali was the best of So­nia’s life. “Hey, Shrawan, where are you lost? Come on, it’s our time to field,” Shrawan’s sweet­est mem­o­ries were cut short by Joy.

“It’s time for the Moulali Masters to fight back, what say, Ra­jiv?”

“Bang on, 93 is not a to­tal they can boast off. I will have to say that Bagui­hati Blues are in a favourable po­si­tion as of now. The first ball, what a hit by Mi­hir! It goes over long on for a sure 6 but wait, Shrawan has taken a near-to-im­pos­si­ble catch!

“Catches win matches, this is not just a wicket, this will re­ally boost up Shrawan’s con­fi­dence and we all know if Shrawan, so per­forms, Moulali Masters will be un­stop­pable.”

Shrawan knew since it’s a low to­tal he couldn’t al­low the Bagui­hati Blues to set­tle down. He led from the front and by the third over they were three down for 26. Shrawan set up ag­gres­sive field and let his strike bowlers bowl at a trot. The ploy worked. By the 5th over Bagui­hati Blues scored 57 but at a loss of 8 wick­ets. Dur­ing the break Shrawan ad­vised Joy to con­cen­trate on york­ers. “We can’t af­ford to waste the over. The rest of the bowlers are weak. Get a wicket, Joy.” Joy got both.

“What a win for Moulali Masters but we must say what cap­taincy by Shrawan! He has def­i­nitely com­pen­sated for his dis­mal bat­ting per­for­mance.

“It’s time to move ahead. The sec­ond match will start after a 10-minute break.”

Their next match was post lunch, so Shrawan went home. On pur­pose he took the long route since he wanted to avoid So­nia. How­ever, as luck would have it, he met her as she came out of the tai­lor­ing shop. Their eyes met, but So­nia turned and walked away. Shrawan was try­ing in vain. It’s not pos­si­ble for him to for­get her, ever. Shrawan was again lost in thoughts about her.

Post that Di­wali night, So­nia was all over Shrawan. Still he could not think of the per­fect al­ibi to talk to her. He knew his eyes will dis­close ev­ery­thing. It was a chance en­counter a few days later as Shrawan was go­ing for a cricket match that he saw her. “Hi!” “Hey, where were you?” So­nia was pleased to see him. Shrawan smiled, “Go­ing, school?”

“No go­ing to zoo, bud­dhu. If I am in a uni­form ob­vi­ously I am go­ing to school, from which school are you?” “Naah I athvi pass, I not study.”

“That’s so sad, why did you quit stud­ies?”

“I medi­ocre stu­dent, why waste fa­ther’s money, I born to play cricket,” Shrawan posed with his bat.

“Hey, don’t mind say­ing but if you are not con­ver­sant in English why do you al­ways speak in English?”

“If I not speak I not learn.” “Point,” smiled So­nia.

“You smile sweet, I like it,” Shrawan said bla­tantly.

“What else do you like about me?” So­nia was in a play­ful mood. “I like your face cut­ting.” “Face cut­ting,” So­nia could not stop laugh­ing.

“Okay, what else?” “I like your fig­ure, pura jhakas,” So­nia died of em­bar­rass­ment.

“Never ever talk to me again, I hate pervs.”

“What pervs?” Shrawan had never heard this word be­fore.

“I meant that you are a lech­er­ous guy.” “Leche…. what?” “LECH­ER­OUS,” So­nia spelled it out. “Go and check the dic­tio­nary, un­civilised, un­e­d­u­cated brat.” So­nia went away.

Later that night as So­nia was out for some gro­ceries, all of a sud­den Shrawan came and stood in front of her. He looked dis­turbed.

So­nia got scared, “I’ll shout, I am warn­ing you.”

“No need, just say some­thing and go.” So­nia kept quite.

“Lech­er­ous, LECH­ER­OUS,” Shrawan spelt it out. “Hav­ing or show­ing ex­ces­sive or of­fen­sive sex­ual de­sire,” right? No, ma’am, I no lech­er­ous. I crick­eter, I don’t want girls, girls want me, I the lo­cal hero, you see.”

Shrawan con­tin­ued after a pause, “Only one girl mad me is you, I like you so so much, got out on zero to­day, your an­gry face in front of me can’t see ball. I not talk to you, not near you but I like you.” “You are drunk?”

“Yes, high class, I drunk, why? I see in news­pa­per that you high class boys and girls drink party, in sexy clothes, they lech­er­ous, I lover,” Shrawan went away.

So­nia had been pro­posed to at least 20 odd times, but this one would re­main clos­est to her heart. No, one-liner, just two words, I lover, pa­thetic English but love is not only blind, it is deaf as well.

Shrawan was dead sure So­nia will never talk to him again but he was thor­oughly mis­taken. The very next morn­ing as Shrawan stepped out of his house he saw So­nia in front of him. “Are, madam High Class, please for­give I, I prom­ise never hap­pen again, you brought the cops with you kya?” Shrawan looked around.

“Did you re­ally mean it?” So­nia pur­posely sounded stern.

“On good­ness, I 500 me­tres away from you al­ways,” Shrawan re­as­sured her.

“Not this, what you said last night, you lover?”

Shrawan help­lessly nod­ded. “Well, you can be my boyfriend but on a tem­po­rary ba­sis, no

So­nia pulled Shrawan so close that even the rain­drops couldn’t make a way through them and then planted the long­est kiss that you can ever wit­ness in a Bol­ly­wood movie.

com­mit­ment, za­ada um­meed mat laga baithna,” So­nia gave her killer smile and went away.

“Moulali Masters’ next chal­lenge would be re­ally tough one, the smartest, the tough­est, Gol­park Gamers.”

“You are right, Ra­jiv, I came to know a few guys of Gol­park Gamers rep­re­sent Ben­gal, let’s see what tac­tics cap­tain cool Shrawan would use to stop them.”

“You can’t de­feat Gol­park Gamers by play­ing cricket,” Shrawan said in his lo­cal lan­guage as his team en­cir­cled him on the field. “They are high class, they know the game in­side out.”

“So, what to do?” vice­cap­tain Nikhil asked.

“Well, there is only one way out, sledge, phys­i­cally and men­tally in­tim­i­date them so much that they get mad and make mis­takes.”

“But, it won’t be right,” Joy was not ready for this. “If the Pan­davas had done all the right things the war of Ku­ruk­shetra would have been won by the Kau­ravas. This is our Ku­ruk­shetra.”

“Par­don me for say­ing but Moulali Masters have left the Aus­tralian team be­hind in sledg­ing.” “That’s true but I think Shrawan has used the right ploy, I don’t see Gol­park Gamers win­ning from this sit­u­a­tion.”

There was a late surge by Gol­park Gamers, yet the Moulali Masters man­aged to steal a vic­tory by mea­gre four runs. As they were re­joic­ing, Shrawan saw So­nia’s fa­ther amongst the spec­ta­tors. The master­mind in their break-up. Shrawan be­came de­spon­dent when he re­called that in­ci­dent.

Shrawan had no com­plaint be­ing So­nia’s tem­po­rary boyfriend. She had tough rules though. No mo­bile num­ber shar­ing, no touch­ing, main­tain­ing a min­i­mum dis­tance of 30 inches, no roam­ing around in the lo­cal­ity. “What kind of bf gf sta­tus is this?” It’s more like a brother-in-law sis­ter-in-law re­la­tion­ship,” quipped Joy. None­the­less, Shrawan didn’t grum­ble. He was more than happy to wit­ness the pride in her face as he smashed a sixer. He was over­whelmed in her com­pany, what­ever lit­tle time she al­lot­ted to him.

Al­most nine months had passed. Shrawan and So­nia were re­turn­ing from a movie when it started to rain. They took shel­ter in a se­cluded bus stand. It was rain­ing so hard that noth­ing was vis­i­ble when just like that So­nia said, “Well, I was think­ing of your pro­ba­tion pe­riod as a boyfriend for some while.” “And?’ Shrawan was ner­vous.

“It’s time to be your per­ma­nent girl­friend,” she said sug­ges­tively.

“So rules be easy?” Shrawan winked.

“No rules!” “You jok­ing?”

So­nia pulled Shrawan so close that even the rain­drops couldn’t make a way through them and then planted the long­est kiss that you can ever wit­ness in a Bol­ly­wood movie.

Alas! So­nia’s dad was ve­he­mently against this re­la­tion­ship, but So­nia was ab­so­lutely adamant. She stopped go­ing to school, stopped eat­ing, stopped step­ping out of her room.

Fi­nally, he had to yield, “Bring him home next Sun­day.” So­nia jumped and hugged her dad tightly.

So the next Sun­day, Shrawan was seated in their house for the in­ter­view. “What’s your age?” “Sir, 17.” “Why don’t you study?” “Sir, I dream be­com­ing a crick­eter.”

“Crick­eter,” smirked Mr Ghosh. “Any­way, my daugh­ter has de­cided to be your life part­ner in years to come, what can I say?”

Shrawan was quiet. “To start with re­sume stud­ies,” he said after a gap. “Take this num­ber, call this guy, he has a open­ing of a peon in a semi-gov­ern­ment com­pany. Once you com­plete your Class 12 ex­am­i­na­tion they will ab­sorb you as a clerk.”

“Thanks, dad,” So­nia’s eyes gleamed. He pat­ted her back. “But re­mem­ber I will marry my daugh­ter off to you only after you achieve this, not be­fore that.”

“Sorry sir, I die death of strug­gle crick­eter than live life of suc­cess clerk,” Shrawan replied slowly yet firmly.

“Are you out of your senses, Shrawan? Dad is do­ing such a favour to you and you are re­fus­ing to ac­cept,” So­nia couldn’t be­lieve her ears.

“Sorry, So­nia, I lover but I also crick­eter.” “Get out.” It was enough for Mr Ghosh, “The next time I see you near So­nia I’ll call the cops.”

Oh! It was then that The Di­wali Cracker con­test was an­nounced. Oth­er­wise, Shrawan would have been shat­tered. He gave his heart and soul to the con­test and Moulali Masters per­formed real well in the round robin league and qual­i­fied for the quar­ters. In these 21/

2 months So­nia nei­ther met him nor called him and if they met ac­ci­den­tally on the way she sim­ply ig­nored him. It was a week back that Shee­tal gave the news which broke Shrawan’s heart com­pletely. Mr Ghosh’s boss had seen So­nia at an of­fice gath­er­ing and de­vel­oped a lik­ing for her – a lik­ing so strong and in­tense that he wanted to get mar­ried to her, im­me­di­ately. He was in his mid-30s but apart from that there was no flaw in him. He was very suc­cess­ful pro­fes­sion­ally and well-todo as well.

Mr Ghosh told So­nia ev­ery­thing, “It’s your call. I won’t force him on you but all I can say is that ei­ther you choose a life with him or slog ev­ery day and night in poverty.”

So­nia smiled, “Just one ques­tion, do you think he is the right match for me?”

Mr Ghosh nod­ded. “Then, I am ready to get mar­ried to him, for the per­son I love the most can’t se­lect the wrong per­son for me.”

“So, sir, the whole point of shar­ing this with you is tak­ing your opin­ion, should I or should I not marry my daugh­ter to him?” Mr Sam­madar got up and left. The mo­ment he left, So­nia ran and hugged her dad tightly and burst into tears.

Coin­ci­den­tally enough, Mr Sam­madar would come to see her on the day of Di­wali it­self.

The mo­ment Shrawan no­ticed the sweet pack­ets in Mr Ghosh’s hand he un­der­stood that they were for the would-be groom of his beloved So­nia. How­ever, he be­trayed the emo­tions and walked away.

Mr Ghosh should not have stopped to watch the match. He was late. Mr Sam­madar had ar­rived and was seated be­side his daugh­ter. The way he was look­ing at her and touch­ing her, Mr Ghosh felt re­ally ashamed that he was forc­ing his daugh­ter to go through all this. Enough was enough. “So­nia, go in­side, I need to have a dis­cus­sion with Mr Sam­madar.” Mr Sam­madar was not at all happy with

his de­ci­sion, “What to

dis­cuss? Ek kapde main bhej dena thik hai. Ab bu­lao use, Di­wali ke raat he bhai!”

Mr Ghosh con­tin­ued, “Do you know, sir, why Di­wali is cel­e­brated?” “To en­joy, what else.” “No, sir, Di­wali is cel­e­brated to mark the vic­tory of light over dark­ness, good over evil, hope over de­spair,” Mr Ghosh said in the same breath. “Why did I give my con­sent for this mar­riage? For my daugh­ter’s well­be­ing? No, I agreed since I was scared I’ll lose my job, oth­er­wise; thus I chose dark­ness over light, evil over good.”

Mr Sam­madar least ex­pected this re­sponse. “We are all weak­lings, sir, but then I see this boy out there play­ing cricket. He has cho­sen hope over de­spair. Be­ing ha­rassed by his dad, be­ing cold­shoul­dered by his love he has still been brave enough to fol­low his dreams. I won’t hide, sir. He wanted to marry my daugh­ter, so I called him into my house; I am sure he was in his best at­tire, even then his shirt was torn. You know, Sir, this guy loves noo­dles. While re­turn­ing home the other day I saw him stand­ing in front of a fast food joint and des­per­ately search­ing his wal­let even tak­ing out the coins to add up to 45 ru­pees for a mixed noo­dle. Too bad he fell short of a few ru­pees, yet he will be play­ing cricket.” Mr Sam­madar was si­lent.

“So, sir the whole point of shar­ing this with you is tak­ing your opin­ion, should I or should I not marry my daugh­ter to him?” Mr Sam­madar got up and left. The mo­ment he left, So­nia ran and hugged her dad tightly and burst into tears. “Don’t waste time. The fi­nal is half way through, let us rush.”

“Too big a to­tal, too big.”

“Yes, Su­jit, 147. The Ban­gur Boys have nailed Moulali Masters.” “They will re­quire 11 Shrawan’s to win this, even then it might fall short.

“Shrawan is walk­ing up to the crease.” “Well, Shrawan has scored zero and 14 in his last 2 in­nings.

“Here goes the first ball, Shrawan has lifted it in the air, will it be the sec­ond zero for Shrawan in the day? No it’s a six. “Is it a fluke, Ra­jiv?” “Let’s see, here comes the next de­liv­ery. He has slammed it again out of the ground.” “Some­thing tells me this one will be a six as well.” “Here it goes, it is a full toss and it’s the long­est six of the tour­na­ment so far.”

By the time So­nia and his/her fa­ther reached the field the score was 77/3 in five overs. It was the drinks break when Joy ran in and told Shrawan that So­nia was in the field and wanted to talk to him. Shrawan walked up to her.

“Go and win it, Shrawan, for all of us.” “Why you in­ter­est?” Shrawan’s voice choked.

“I in­ter­est cause bud­dhu, you lover to I lover.”

Mr Ghosh in­ter­rupted, “I am sorry but I have made amends, can you recog­nise me?” “Dad!” Shrawan was elated.” “Go for it son, we are all with you.”

“Five overs, 71 to get, too much?”

“Not till Shrawan is there and he has re­moved his hel­met, why this de­ci­sion? Chetan is pretty fast.

“The next three overs fetched 12, 14, 18 re­spec­tively.”

“121/7, 27 to win, 12 balls to go, get­table, Su­jit?”

“Def­i­nitely, as long as Shrawan is there.”

“But Chai­tanya is a tricky one to read, his re­verse swings are deadly,

So­nia was in the field and wanted to talk to him. Shrawan walked up to her. “Go and win it, Shrawan for all of us.” “Why you in­ter­est?” Shrawan’s voice choked.

here he goes... ap­peal for LBW... givennnnnn.”

“11 balls, 27 to get and two wick­ets in hand, tough call.”

“Here the wizard comes again. Will it be a doosra or a goo­gly?” “No, it’s a straight one but the tail en­der couldn’t read it, clean bowled!”

“Now, it’ll re­quire a fairy-tale 27 in 10 with only a wicket in hand.”

So­nia could barely watch as the over ended.

“22 of 6 that’s what it has come to but what Moulali Masters can take heart from is Shrawan is fac­ing at 81, well set­tled.” “First ball of the last over and what a shot, Shrawan sends it over the boundary at a ca­sual ease.

“Here comes the next one, take a bow it goes for a six as well. The first over had a hat-trick of sixes, will the same hap­pen in the last over as well?

“Will the bowler look ner­vous and a half vol­ley pounded hard by Shrawan straight to­ward his lady love, yes it’s a hat-trick again.”

“Three balls four runs, it should be cake­walk from here for Moulali Masters. Here Su­jay comes again and Shrawan could not put this one away. Two balls four runs.”

“Wait, Shrawan has suc­cumbed to the ball that hit his chest and he can barely breathe.”

So­nia was out of con­trol, “Dad, what will hap­pen?” she was ner­vous.

“Don’t worry, ev­ery­thing will be all right.”

He was right and as Shrawan stood on his feet the crowd started cheer­ing him.

“What drama, what emo­tion, it’s all hap­pen­ing at the Di­wali Crack­ers.” “The next ball, wow, the per­fect yorker, dot ball. “A ball to go! 4 to win.” “The grand daddy of all cli­maxes, and don’t for­get Shrawan is on 99.” “Yes, Ra­jiv, here we go the last ball, an­other yorker but Shrawan has hit it hard, it should sail for six but wait Adi has caught a blinder.” “Did he over­step, no, was it a no ball, no.”

“That’s it. Shrawan is not out and Ban­gur Boys have won the Di­wali Crack­ers con­test.”

he prize cer­e­mony took place in a while and right­fully Shrawan was ad­judged the Man of the Match but he hung his head in shame. He could not win it for them. It was then that the sud­den an­nounce­ment was made, “What is Di­wali with­out sur­prises? Un­aware to all of us, rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the Cricket As­so­ci­a­tion of Ben­gal had come to watch this tour­na­ment and they have se­lected a player who will be part of Ben­gal Un­der 19 team and guess who it is.”

The crowd chanted Shrawan! Shrawan.

“Yes, you are right, it’s Shrawan.”

Shrawan was dumb­founded. “I crick­eter,” he said as tears rolled down his cheek.

“And, I lover,” So­nia jumped as she kissed him ir­re­spec­tive of ev­ery­one be­ing around as the Di­wali crack­ers went up into the sky to im­mor­talise their spe­cial mo­ment went. The se­cret to hap­pi­ness is free­dom... And the se­cret to free­dom is courage.

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