So, Teja is back to playing cricket. The last time he played when we were students at the Film Institute, in 1994.

I have no clue about cricket, and that is the first match I went to. Actually, I just dropped by to have a look at him, even though we were barely on talking terms then. I do remember him sending a ball flying all the way to the girls’ hostel, and he likes to say he did it for me. Whether it was to impress me, or out of anger towards me, who knows? I’m certainly not going to ask, for our story back then was way too complicated.

This time, of course, Dhanno and I went as official cheerleaders. Though we reached the grounds only in the second half.

Teja woke up early, and went off at 7 in the morning. The entire family was meant to follow him. Obviously that was a mistake.

First, all of us woke up late, it being Sunday morning, then we all had breakfast, then we gossiped for a bit about lucky stones. I nagged my brother as usual to hand over my father’s ruby ring, which he refuses to part with, even though he does not wear it.

Then, I did have to shampoo, since I was going to the Institute after 9 years (I’ve made three 10-minute visits in all this while, which obviously don’t count).

Then, Mummy just had to see her doctor before she did anything else. As we waited outside the doctor’s, we realized it was noon, I had forgotten the camera back home, and it would probably be lunch time before we reached the Institute.

So, we went off to buy some sinful mutton roast and naans at Cafe Diamond Queen, and went back home to eat lunch.

My sister said that if it had been her husband playing, they would all have been up much before him, and out of the house by dawn. Dhanno said Teja didn’t really want us to come to the match for some reason. My sister said, obviously, since he knew that you’ll never be there on time. Of course, my sister thinks Teja spoils Dhanno and me horribly. And that we take him horribly for granted.

After lunch, I was ready to go, the camera at the door lest I forget it again. My sister said she was going back to her place for a nap. My mother wanted to sleep too. My sister-in-law would have rather slept too, but I shamed her into driving Dhanno, my nephew Golu and me to the Institute. No way I was braving the harsh March Puneri sun in a Puneri rickshaw.

Downstairs, my sister said she had forgotten her packed dinner upstairs. She sent Golu to fetch it. I fumed in the car. Golu came back after 10 minutes, and said we were to wait, because his dad, my brother wanted to come too. We waited for another 15 minutes for my brother to have his bath. When my brother came down, my mother appeared at the window and asked what she was going to do alone at home, and that she wanted to come too. There wasn’t enough room in the car, so my brother went back upstairs, and we waited for my mother to come downstairs. Of course, she needed to change.

By then, I was sure that my family had no consideration for my feelings for Teja and his cricket match. I sent off my sister-in-law to scold my mother. But my mother toddled over before she could do that. For the next 10 minutes I scolded my mother, and she kept insisting on getting off the car, and going back home in a rickshaw. I apologized, what else, to calm her down and make sure we did keep the car headed in the right direction towards the Institute and not turn it back towards home for some more emotional outbursts.

So after this long journey to cross a distance of 15 odd kilometers, we reached the Institute at 3 pm, for the second match of my life. The ground was abandoned. For a moment, my heart sank, but the players had only gone for lunch. By a stroke of luck, Teja’s team was batting now.

Dhanno took this photo of Teja getting out.

Of course, his team lost. It was the same 13 years ago, the student team won, the ex-student team lost. What else, with beer-bellies and no stamina. The student team is always younger, fitter, and this one had even practiced for a month. Teja of course is determined to win back his honour in the next match, next month, same place.

I say, play cricket. It’s great fun cheering.

Here, by the way, is a photo of the match in 1994. Teja says meanly, that I’m out of focus, and it’s Naseerbhai who’s been clicked, and not me. I like it anyway.

This is one of Teja and me watching the rest of the match. March 2008.

Tom Alter was still going strong, after half a day of fielding, another hour or so umpiring, then running for an injured batsman, and then batting himself. He’d played on the Graftii team in 1994 too. If playing cricket keeps you as fit as he is, all the more reason Teja should keep playing.