In nt trip to Pune, I met a strange man. I am terribly bad at socializing when it comes to the real world. Professionally, it comes naturally, but I am not the kind of person who would walk next to a pretty face and introduce myself, much lesser to a middle aged man. So it was sheer co-incidence that I met Mr. M. Lets call him that. Now, because of a certain amount of money invested in my education by my beloved father, I tend to think of myself as a representative of a certain class. So when a watchman asked me what I thought of the series, I shouldn’t have gotten it. But I am an Indian, and a guy, so I had an answer ready in a wonderful fraction of a second. ” They deserve it!” was my ambiguous reply.
You see, this game could be played both ways. I wasn’t sure if this elderly watchman, ( by now it should be clear that it was indeed Mr. M) was a desperate hopeful or a critical enthusiasist. I tend to fit in with both of them, because as a middle class born person, I tend to not have firm opinions on anything. But the gentleman in front of me was very unlike me, and was burning with passion and reverence. ” Quite right! What do they think of themselves! They are dropping the man who is going to win us the series. ” Now this was news to me, I did not think that there was any news of dropping Tendulkar from squad. Besides the series could not be won anyways, it was already lost. When I pointed it out, Mr. M made a face I have seen in so many of my nightmares. Of a gentle schoolteacher who looks at you as if you were the heart of everything wrong with this universe. ” Son, believe me or not, the series is never lost emotionally if we can even hit back a single punch. Statistics would not count if we win the last match.” Fair enough, I thought. I was still not satiated of my curiosity, and asked which man he was talking about. I was again an audience to ‘that’ face. ” VVS Laxman of course, without him Indian cricket is like a plain canvas. ” Obviously I thought the man was conveniently forgetting the other greats and my personal favourites. But he continued. ” Don’t get me wrong, Tendulkar is a god, and Dravid is the fort of our batting, but its Laxman who is keeping the art alive. Have you seen how that idiot Kohli bats? No grace at all!! Laxman is the last of those wristy players. Oh my goodness, what deft touches, and those ondrives that kiss the ground like a tender flower. He is an artist, and it is sad that they are dropping him. ”
I had to point out that he wasn’t perhaps playing well. ” Tell that to someone, who has not seen a miracle on that 2001 tour. I had betted heavily against India, and you wouldn’t find another man who remembers the match better than me. That was no ordinary display of cricket, it was a legend. Do you honestly think that something like that will happen once Laxman is gone?” He did not wait for my answer, and left the place in a hurry. Many times I come across comments that Indian cricket is slowly dying, that its becoming artless, and pointless. As I saw 60 something Mr. M, in his blue T-shirt sporting the proud name of VVS Laxman, I thought to myself that perhaps it is dying. I am not sure if there would be players like Laxman for sure in future. However fa
ns like Mr. M, they are indeed Very Very Special to come by aren’t they?