I am not a boy, never have been, and I have not been thirteen since quite a while. I have never played cricket, or maybe sometimes with a rubber ball, once, twice, a few times. I don’t even watch cricket, unless Teja compels me to.
But Tushar Raheja’s book ‘Romi & Gang‘ is more than a book about cricket-crazy boys.
From the first paragraph, the book plunges you into familiar territories, even if you have never grown up anywhere near Mauji (a fictional town) and the Roomani hills (equally fictional).
There is the running with the wind, the mix of sweat and dirt that is the peculiar smell of childhood, ghosts and cremation grounds, heroes and things that could have been, and things imagined, the fear of losing, losing games, losing friends and new turns in the roads. There is school, good teachers, bad teachers, pranks and punishments, scrapbooks and nicknames, friends, enemies, your parents, your friends’ parents, your house, your friends’ houses and through it all, the absurdly disproportionate sense of importance that each moment carries, as if that was the only state of being, in that moment, and it will last forever.
Yet, Tushar’s vigorous and unfussy style does not allow you to veer off into nostalgia. The story of Romi and his friends, Sunny, Sukhi and Golu is engaging enough to keep you engrossed in their tale. Biswajit Guha’s illustrations in black and white lend an additional movement to the book. The book was perhaps written for young people, but it is a good read for old, grizzly bears too.
I read it in one go, while Teja watched the ICC Champions Trophy 2013, and both of us had fun.