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Saturday, March 01, 2008

STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT 

He didn’t want to do it, and that was that. They had explained the rationale to him time and again—over drinks, at the breakfast table and then during the outdoor stretching sessions too. By now, all had had a go—Sachin, Laxman, and even his mentor Dada had made it known that they collectively and individually thought it’d be best if he did the “right thing”. Right, it may have been for them but for him….He bristled at having to apologize for no fault of his.

Fine then. If that’s what they all wanted. He steeled himself and began the short walk to the hotel room where the Tasmanian was housed. He could not help thinking that if his middle-class upbringing had not brought him expletives for long hops and more profanities for fielding lapses, he would not have lapsed into momentary folly when provoked on the field. It intrigued him, a chap could get away by publicly abusing a mother but not refer to the distinctly simian rival as a monkey. What a country, he muttered under his breath. And he was beginning to sweat—the summer was humid. Summer, imagine in the middle of December. He’d read earlier that Amritsar has gone to a minus two. What a country indeed !!

He was waved on by the reception lass—after all he was recognized everywhere he went , his headdress saw to that. He chose to climb up to the second floor where the captain was staying—room 242, he had found out before starting out. He would end it quickly, he would be ushered in, he’d be offered beer, he’d refuse, hammer out his well-rehearsed speech, shake hands, wish him all the best and make a hurried exit. In fact, Y had even suggested a cool hangout for later that evening.

The doorbell was shrill and too noisy. The door opened to reveal a blonde with wavy hair. Naye, he has gone out for a swim, she said. Would not he wait ? He sat down gingerly on the edge of the sofa and began drumming a folk number on the armrest. The lights flickered, waned a bit, brightened out again and then suddenly went out completely. Rianna reached out in the dark clutching his arm trying to steady herself.

Exactly eight weeks later, she announced with her beaming husband what she had been yearning to say all these six years, she was carrying their child.

Except, a sullen Sikh found himself colouring whenever families were mentioned,avoiding all children he met, even the mild Samit. No, he was not proud, pride was the last thing he felt.
What would the world say when they saw the newborn ? He shuddered, why had he even bothered coming to Australia.

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