Friday, October 3, 2008

Floating all the way down

I am sure everyone has a weird dream which returns time and again to mystify them and wake them to a confused state of mind. 

Back in Bharuch, at the group of flats where I stayed, terrace cricket was the most popular sport especially when smashed windows in the flats surrounding our 'international' grounds were too fresh a memory. There were a number of stadiums to choose from, varying in size, the views it would provide and the dangers that lay hidden all around it. There was the big stadium, the terrace on building A-1 where the length of the pitch was suitable for full blooded straight drives but surrounded by locked flats when eventually the ball went beyond the terrace boundary walls. Then there was my building's terrace, building B-4 which was small but the pitch was conducive to the full range of strokeplay available in cricket. The pretty girl in the building opposite to us added to the incentives of that stadium and the shanty houses behind my building and the co-operative society's walls from where no ball had ever returned consisted of the negative factors. Also there was another terrace with a magnificent view of the Narmada river but there was this hefty guy who did his evening exercises on the terrace and did not take too kindly to us pottering around with our heavy plastic ball. And all these terraces had a common disadvantage: the brunt of which I had borne too often. 

The rules were simple. If you hit the ball out of the terrace direct or on the bounce, you'd have to not only fetch the ball but also declare yourself out, assuming of course that the ball was somewhere wanting to be found! It was a painful exercise this dreary sprint (Yes, you couldn't walk. That was the infallible code of honour in the cricketing brotherhood of our flats.) as you rushed down from the fifth floor (No lifts in our apartments too) in the hope that mischievious looking kid downstairs hadn't made off with the ball already, all the while knowing that it was time for fielding duties again when you made the journey back.

On days that I made the journey too many times and dropped off to a tired sleep, I'd dream of us pals playing cricket. When the ball would drop out of the terrace off my near perfect square cut, I wouldn't take the stairs. I'd jump over the terrace boundary on the fifth floor in very 'filmy' slow motion. grab the ball in mid-air and race back up through the stairs to resume my batting. How catching a ball somewhere in between the 3rd and the 2nd floor helped the umpire reverse his decision, I don't know but that's how the dream went! I would do this multiple times in the dream as my batting score went on to double, triple and quadruple centuries. 

I had this dream so many times that I'd wait for it every night to show up once again to execute variations to it. Sometimes I'd somersault over the boundary wall, sometimes just back flip and all the time I'd be varying the style of my descent. I'd catch up with the ball in mid-air and fly against gravity doing a loop-the-loop high in the skies as my friends watched agape.  I would sway from side to side like a flat piece of paper in the breeze delaying my descent from the fifth floor to the parking lot as far as possible. I'd twirl like a human helicopter as I came down like a tornado (and this is my childhood, long before the gruesome "Shaktimaan" series premiered on TV in case you are accusing me of plagiarism) amidst the 'aunties' that had gathered for their evening chat sending them home screaming as a punishment for their disapproval of our cricket. These and many more such strange alternative versions of my favourite dream come to mind. I wish to have that dream just once more to remember that feeling before I taste a small percentage of that thrill in real life when I free-fall out of a plane on this Saturday.

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