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The Last Runner - a Cricket Story

It was night and the crescent lit it very dimly, but enough to engulf it with its warmth.  He did not know how long he had been running, he did not know what was the reason behind it nor did he know why his legs did not hurt even after running for so long but he had been running and running; running the perimeter of the ‘Mecca of Cricket.’ How much ever he tried to get to the pitch, he could not; all his efforts were be pushed against the pitch. A sweat of fear and disappointment rain across his temple then ran another one and another one. He began sweating profusely, with every drop of sweat lost his hope of getting to the pitch.

He opened his eyes; he was back to his world, it was a nightmare. He got up to drink some water but his legs trembled. Maybe because of running for an eternity but then it was just a dream. Maybe they were trembling off fear or of disappointment but I guess, it was the failure of never reaching to the pitch.

It was not the first time that he had that dream; he had had that dream even before. Years passed and he kept having that dream at perfect times – before every important finals and it badly affected his performance. The critics discovered that they had a voice and could speak against him too; after all he was not The God, but only a human. He started getting paranoid, he wanted to know what that dream meant, why it kept coming again and again, why they were screwing his career. He consulted astrologers; all the Potliwalas, Neers, Srivastavas, and they all said in unison, “An injury is approaching, and a day would come when you’d not be able to reach the pitch that you love so much.” Months passed by and that dream kept his nights busy, he even discovered their pattern and would know when it would come. And there, came the injury that was predicted, he was home ridden. The critics discovered that they could now even shout at him, he was after all, no God.

‘Darling, I think I should retire, I am no longer the same,’ he said to his wife one day.
‘Why do you think so, honey? You have more time than anyone can even think of.’
He then told her about his dream and what the astrologers had said. When he finished, she started laughing uncontrollably. Annoyed, he asked her the reason behind her laughter on his life’s greatest annoyance.
‘And you believe those astrologers?’ She asked, trying her best to control her laughter. And all he could do was to give her a blank look.
‘They call themselves astrologers and yet can’t tell what a simple dream means! How pity!’ She exclaimed. ‘It does not mean that your end is near, it just means that you’d play longer than anyone you know, longer than your teammates.’
‘Then what about me never able to reach to the pitch?’
‘You would just be sad that you teammates couldn’t survive as long as you,’ she looked into his eyes. ‘It is not your fault that they can’t play as long as you. It is not your fault that they don’t have your passion. It is not your fault they don’t love the game as much as you do. It is not your fault that you are the only one who sees such dreams.’
‘Then why is it always the Lords and not anywhere else?’
‘Which is the ground that you revere the most?’
And she gave him a ‘See! I know it all look.’

A voice within him rose, it gave him the motivation; he started practicing again. With each day he grew fitter and stronger. He returned to the pitch and every time the leather kissed his willow it was hit hard enough to his reach critics’ mouths. He scored runs like never before, he won like never before. Years passed by, his teammates retired, his competitors retired but he kept playing strongly. Few wrinkles appeared on his face, his reflexes slowed but he never stopped, he changed his techniques to overcome his lapses. That is a mark of a great player; he changes his own self rather than changing the opponent.

He is yet to thank her for that day after all, that is what soulmates are for. He still gets that dream and but now it does not scare him. Instead, it inspires him; inspires him to play even better, it acts as a reminder that he is yet to stand tall in the Lords. After all, there is something that even the Gods need to do themselves.
the last runner a cricket story (Sachin Tendulkar)
Previously published on Quora and here.
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(Kshitij) क्षितिज

Poem in English also provided.


समन्दर किनारे था मैं खड़ा,
देख रहा था नीला आसमां|
समन्दर ने तब मुझसे कहा,
"हे मनू, किस लिए तुम यहाँ?"

"मैं उसे देखने आया यहाँ,
जो है हर जगह,
वह, जिस में है सूरज समाया,
जिस से मिला तुम्हे यह रंग अपना|"
Hey you! Yes you, if you liked this post then please comment below, like it, share it, tweet it, Plus +1 it and make my day. :)