Here comes the last over and once this gets over with, i can have a cool relaxing bath, i think. The heat of the ground and the incessant drum beats make me erratic. 'I played some lack lustre cricket today', i say to myself. May be i can plan my shots when the next bowler comes up. I send a silent prayer Upwards, trying to duck the balls bowled. Cricket runs in my blood- i drink cricket, i eat cricket, i walk cricket and i talk cricket- no, i am not Mandira Bedi, i am NINE(TY NINE)DULKAR...As i wait for the next over, there comes the Bawalpindi Express, straight on tracks. Oh no..not today! And not this bowler. The very thought of him brings me the goose bumps and makes me weak in the knees. He is a nightmare, straight from a horror movie. I gingerly brace up for the first ball, trying to avoid eye contact. His long mane bouncing, he charges straight for me...oh, my stumps. I duck as usual and heave a sigh of relief when the ball rolls along the wicket straight to him. He sends one of his piercing glances in my direction, which i choose to ignore anyway.
|Picture courtesy- The Dawn|
Next ball, i evade dutifully and that is when i see the giant screen in the ground, flashing the look in his eyes- that killer look i have been carefully avoiding and there ends my poignancy. My legs tremble and shake, my head goes around on a carousel and my whole body shakes like a leaf. That is when Mr Clean@' saaf'ridi sees me. I am ashamed that 'Saaf'ridi sees me at such a sorry state, but when you are facing the Bawalpindi Express with biting menace, you can't act mellow and soft. I dutifully forgot this whole 'shaky shaky ' episode until Mr Express published his autobiography- Controversially Yours. Bawalpindi Express had claimed that i was afraid of him and my whole nation burst into denial mode.
Then came the shocker- Mr Clean@ 'saaf'ridi, who has never ever met a bookie all his life, but was sadly(!) banned from international cricket claimed my legs shook facing Express' delivery. I vehemently deny the claim Mr Clean@"saaf"ridi- that day, there was a mild earthquake measuring 5.0 exactly on that pitch with epicentre at the batsman's end. How dare you level such an allegation against me? You know, i have the meteorological readings from my country's Met Department which never goes wrong on its predictions. See how exactly we predicted the tsunami and the recent Sikkim quake? It took just 24 hours for Mr Clean to come clean on his allegations, he retracted the earlier statement. Ah...i can breathe in peace now. We Indians have the disease of shaking and trembling seeing our neighbors, don't we?
Ah...there arrives the plane, a distant dot in the deep blue horizon. My heart skips a beat as i wait near the tarmac. The wheels touch down perfectly and the plane pulls over to a stop. My heart too stops a bit and beats faster than ever. Damn! Why did i forget my pressure pills today morning? The very moment i heard she is headed to meet me, i felt the whole wide world beautiful. I smiled a lot, waved a lot and tried to look chic and smug in my designer coats. I changed my reading glasses for a brand new Police and sported a trendy salt and pepper but pampered hairstyle. I felt floating in the air and peered to get my first direct glimpse of her. Trust me, her blurred pictures where nowhere near the original breath taking beauty. When she stepped down the stairs...i felt like swooning, my legs shaking and giving away. My pulse racing and heart throbbing, i gulped down, trying to smoothen my coat with trembling fingers. My shaking legs must have been a give away, for she adjusted her cool Gucci shades and flashed that fleeting smile of hers. Oh my God...i thought, this is one neighbor not to miss and not to mess.
|Picture Courtesy- Hindustan times|
My eyes rove over her and so do hundreds of shutter happy paparazzi who almost blind me with their flashes. Sending her sweet 'i mean business' smile towards them, she breezes towards me with her Jimmy Choos heels thumping on the red carpet. I stand rooted to my spot, the big bouquet in my hand, all sweaty and wet. I adore the way she holds her Louis Vuitton tote bag and the graceful charm in the pearls that fervently glide over her neck. My legs shake- cramps, you see. As we both clasp our hands and shake it tight, i feel thankful. Thankful that no one ever saw me shaking, looking at our neighbor. Newspapers and tabloids were in a frenzy- NINA, NINA they chanted her name as if in a trance. All the channels telecast and re- telecast her style statements and luckily missed my 'shaky shaky moments'. I refused to wash my hands that shook hers for a few days and till the moment she left for the airport, i was her Guardian Angel. We signed and shook hands, dined together and talked business. But every time i see her, i tremble- Indians tremble seeing their neighbors....what do you say, people?
Disclaimer: The pictures above have no relevance to the story...which is PURELY FICTIONAL!