My papa always asked me, “life’s a good old game of cricket isn’t it son?” I didn’t understand at first but just nodded my head and agreed. As years passed and my beard grew longer and his was no more, the game of life finally made sense to me. Isn’t life a big game itself? Each one trying to win against the other? I wondered is it that what my old man tried to mean or that a good old game of cricket is just as good as life can be. I never asked him what he meant by that and he never told me. I wondered if he meant for me to find it out for myself.
As I sit in the bleachers of my sons first big match every inch of the game and what binds it is a part of life I realize. The game itself is life isn’t it? My son chose his forte and steps out armed, bat in hand, a hard look plastered on his young face. Making a choice I believe with the toss…it seems so relatable. The many choices we have made, for better or for worse in life thinking we have made the right decision, praying that we have made the right decision we go forth with our plans. Similarly my son chooses to bat…..his choice?
The game begins. My son keeps his eyes locked on the bowler, not aiming to play the ball but the bowler as his grandpa had taught him. I smile to myself. He was very skilled with the bat rather than with the ball. That’s all my son has to do. Face the curveballs that come to him. With his bat and his skill, just like in life. The few things that help us get by, may it be talent, skill or knowledge. The bowler gains speed and the ball whizzes past my son. He misses. He tries again and misses once more. I know what he is thinking. Has he prepared enough? Can he prove himself better than the boy who stands in front of him?
I watch the bowler now. Same age as my son. Same ideas and understandings. For him this is just another game. He stands hands on his hips. I know what he is thinking as well. He is a challenge to my son, an obstacle. He will throw whatever he has to see my son fail and walk back to the bleachers…so life like. He changes his speed and style and I see my son struggle trying to adapt and overcome these trials. He is falling under pressure no doubt. Don’t worry my son, I say to myself. You will soon learn that life is no different. The bowler bowls again. I watch my son fix his eyes on his target, take aim, bring his foot forward and swing. The bat meets the ball and it is hammered out of the field.
The umpire raises his hands to signal a six. His teammates cheer. A fine lot they are, the teammates. A whole bunch of youngsters looking out for each other like a family. Just like when I was young I remember all those who stood beside me and aided me in time of need. Who cheered as I was on the edge of success and who also tried to bring me down. Life is unfair and I understood that long before realizing that life and cricket are no different. Some may win and some may lose. Some may laugh and some may cry. It’s all part of the game my son, it’s all part of life.
It’s the last delivery in the over. The bowler charges spinning the ball to confuse my son. His plan works, my sons’ bat touches it lightly on the edge and falls into the ready hands of the wicketkeeper. A sigh passes over the team as the umpire raises his finger to dismiss the batsman. Clear edge, the umpire says to my son and his fellow batsman. I chuckle… young fellows not satisfied with the verdict? I look at the umpire clad in white giving out his judgment, quite god like. Wonder if it’s the same in life after all those years experiencing incidents of strife and joy? When your clock runs out and your time is up will a finger be raised to mark the end of the game? End of your time? A shudder passes through me. I guess I have not much time left. The game goes on but my thoughts are far away. At the end of it all as I stand out waiting for my son to come home with me I finally understand what my papa meant by life being a good old game of cricket. I see my son walking towards me his bag slung over his shoulder. His face bears the look of defeat and loss. I smile at him and he back at me. ”what did you think about the game dad?” he asks, his eyes bright despite the disappointment. “You know son”, I say “I think that life’s like a good old game of cricket.” He nods in agreement but I know he doesn’t understand. It’s alright son, I think to myself…one day you will.