22 yards out of hell …

…any resemblance to anyone real …any incident… is purely a play of coincidence …this is a work of fiction…!.

“ Da …have you paid ? “ … Koshy ran a smeared hand… over his lips …

Messily squished together with the bare fingers .. puttu , banana … and the incoherent words all oozed over in one slimy paste..

Blissfully innured totally to the revulsion that pervaded around ….

“ Aarthipandaram….”….shameless glutton…

” Make it fast ….. big bellied slob ! “ … isn’t life about catching up always ….

“ Son of a bitch …I sincerely hope you were as eager always .. “ …Dixon was not attending any class any soon either …

“ Fuck your classes ….we don’t want to miss the first “bit” da ….” …he would be hysterical very soon ……. Sooraj looked at Koshy’s face ..a moment longer … the unsavoury trickle on the visage held his gaze …and his fancy for two fleeting seconds …

Dark eyelashes …shiny red Revlon…somewhere else ..some other time …

His mind crawled …and dripped

… unholy distractions! He sighed dejectedly …sheepishly ..jolted back to the gruff real life that fidgeted on filthy dining tables …and the ugly …unclean faces…

“ I want to be inside the hall before the rocking Maruti van ….” …

Well , all those great minds thought alike ….

“ Varkey and gang missed ”Moon “….as they removed the actual reels …they could only catch the shaking van from outside …! “….

Moon .. the pretty young thing who didn’t believe too much in leaving a lot to imagination … the future of the future engineers , swung back and forth with her assets of voluptuous proportions …

“ I am fed up with these morons…The girl who gets humped in the van is Jayalekha …” Koshy was exacting when it came to facts !….

“ Moon arrives in a pool scene … camera from behind and the thong rolls over her left butt …

“ she inserts a finger between the cleft to pull it back over “ …. ….whoever said God …lies in details had overlooked the devil and his devices !

Eleven in the morning ….on a regular college day they entered the shabby hall with roof supported on pillars with broken plaster ..and stains of beetel juice

“ Da …this thing lasts till you are under ten feet of earth “

… The slender index finger of Dixon that gripped the cricket ball perfectly , pointed down…

“Everything else comes with a shelf life “..irrefutable pearls of wisdom ..

Blood thirsty bugs had perpetual turn ons…as blood roared all around …. nether regions wiggling on the rough wooden benches in absent minded annoyance and bug bites… ….thermodynamics lessons got squandered like seeds sown on a rock face …in a sweaty and dusty class room two and half miles away!

“ Da ..what a relief I am not yawning inside Cochran’s hour ….listening to Perpetual Motion Machines of the third type …..” no one paid much attention to Koshy….

“ By the way ..arent there only two types ? the third is here …..“ …the fingers that gripped cricket ball

….Dixon punched Koshy between his legs

Between a rock and a hard place !

…celebration in gay abandon..burnt money ..earned by someone else

“ Miss Susheela “ the title showed in yellow blocked font , as buxom wheatish skinned women frolicked on a sandy beach

” Dey …the omni van “ ….

Bated breaths …. betel juices were swallowed back …..guards who manned doors peeped through the doors at the screen

Life came to a standstill ….tethered to the basic instincts …

On screen …the goons accelerated towards a fleeing lanky girl ….in advanced states of undressing …

Lifted and thrown into a van …scuffle …seen from windshield …there was a glimpse of a derriere … a few in the hallucinated crowd thought they might just have seen err… the collective sigh came and went like an uneventful monsoon wind…

Then the vehicle screeched to a halt in a deserted place ….catcalls and whistles from a crowd turned on like the famished inebriated on smell of food…..

Camera zoomed out finally with the van shown far below next to a tree …and a factory building

Narratives …..melded shaky pick up trucks …and tree tops tussled in soft winds … together in titillation

Everything that was taut like a wire … slackened ..

Spent minds yawned …walked … left

“ Dixon …what happened to your ‘line’ ? “ …the handsome Malabar Christian was from those rare privileged ones ….he was seeing someone

In the dim redlight inside the dark bar room of Matha hotel and bar … black wraiths whispering to each other ….

“ Cheers “ …. in unison towards heavens ..as the soda embraced the Old Cask rum …..

“ Da …you know , Priya’s friend Rajshree ….” Sooraj threw a casual one ….

“…. I saw her with a boy last week at Ernakulam ….” Priya was the one Dixon was seeing ….

Silhouettes clawed each other in Raghav’s mind….pyres burnt in auburn fire within his heart

Wearing a black shirt ..in chiselled features, drawing in a puff from a cigarette …Dixon resembled a greek god …. The Kouros perfume .. suitably sat on him as if it belonged …

Crowns belonged where kings held heads straight….

The wavy haired girl …….

Stars in the night sky , do not stay …they move on …!

….“ Da …I need to go and sleep for sometime” …it was a little past two and Raghav got up from the chair…..

…leaving the halo of perfumes around regal silhouettes behind …

“….house team selection match in the evening ….”

“ Da …Dixon …you should be kind to him this time …. “ …no …he didn’t belong here ..this is a durbar of the elite ….you leave your footwear …your pride outside..

“ bye ….”

….. …. banter and guffaws became thinner …farther … he had turned and started walking…

The roaring blood …auburn fire ..they all tumbled away with the hours…

Three mile walk ….unending steps…into , the gruff realities re-emerging outside the grassy confines ….

The confirmed team probables wheeled arms and warmed up with taps and catching practice

“ Where is Doshi ….? “

Puri … the Hindi speaking captain was particulartly patriotic to his snow clad domicile state ardently ….

“Butterfingers”..aka Doshi didn’t turn up eventually ….

“ Raghav are you padded ?? “ Puri screamed …he was a perfectionist when convenient

…Raghav walked into bat at number three –a complete non event …. Puri got immersed in scribbling on the scuffed sheet torn from some note book …

What does the asshole scribble all the time ?

The demons in his mind stretched and yawned ….he shook his head , turned his eyes towards the sun to get them dilated …

A silent prayer …” leg stump “ the umpire glowered at such audacity from a rookie non-starter ….

The fielding team was drunk on the two wickets in an over and a half from start ….

Two heavy weight university level openers …had scratched around and receded into oblivion already..

“ Aquib …this is an Amul baby pal …I have seen him at nets ….very nervous ….get him in this ball ! “

…..they were more kind to the goats ahead of the cleaver …at least the butchers don’t mock !

The first ball was three quarters full , and he had seen the curving in the air and judged wrongly that   it would somehow seam out after pitch . His bat was in hiding almost till the last moment …exposing the stumps to the furiously approaching red cherry leering in lust….And then , with the minute re adjustment , done in languorous elegance that drew “ the mother fucker is elegant though unproductive ninety five percent of the time ! “ from the inimitable Koshy suckling at a saliva soaked cigarette butt that had been smoked by three people already ……, The bat rose in half arch ….came down retracing almost the same arc but still slanting to cover the outswing…blocking the view of the oncoming ball in just the very last six inches of its travel and then sustained the tilt to direct the gleaming red cherry towards the vacant gulley …

The explosion , as the sweet spot of the willow kissed the new and hard cricket ball …drowned out the suppressed sigh of the crest fallen wicket keeper …..Yes , along with the cockiness of the opening bowler being strewn in four winds too, as his insidious inswinger was ‘managed’ …to the point boundary in a majestic front foot flourish ….the red cherry oblivious totally of the ignominy … waking up in its Hades in captivated awe ….shorn of all respect , wallowed in the unevenly grown crude grass , chewed and spat by bovines .. outside the boundary line of the college multipurpose ground …..

Puri cheered in lewd gestures ’……

“ the bastard would sell his mother ..if the price is good …” ….the inimitable Koshy yet again …

Raghav ‘s nerves calmed a little ….. ….

Spinners came on ……Third ball of the seventh over , he sensed he was ready having knocked around a bit. He had five boundaries to his account already …from the meat of the blade …all of them.

He saw the ball leaving Narayanan the part time spin bowler’s hands …. strolled a step and a half down the track , …the chin tilted slightly up ..yes, a wee bit more than what was needed – but the steady head compensated for the minute technical flaw – ….and certainly not inadequate to drive home both the message and well .., with a perfect … languorous swing of the willow , the ball as well , aerially landing it over extra cover boundary for an exquisitely timed lofted maximum score ….

He had arrived ….loud and clear ….

Raghav treated Dixon to four consecutive boundaries in his second over of the spell ….. the fifteenth of the twenty five over a side ..greek god did not look as elegant today ..

Aquib came back in the seventeenth over ….. Raghav was sighting the ball as clearly as an eagle picking a duckling in the courtyard from clouds …

The opening bowler was planning the disguised slow one …..the bastard didn’t get it right in fact , his fingers slipped at release …and , that’s what got Raghav in the end ….

He had seen the fingers rolling over and had quickly readjusted for the slower one ….delaying the overall readiness by almost half a yard in terms of distance travelled …. For Aquib’s bowling speed , he had judged the slower ball to reach that much later ….The ball infact had advanced trifle more instead, on Raghav from when he should have commenced the shot to the precise moment when he actually did …

The flourish …a minute one , would have easily passed an uninitiated eye unnoticed …but the hawkish crystal grey eyes of the six footer had turned around from the initial frustration over the botched up slow ball to now lusting after the providential opportunity infront…. He was a university level player , and opened bowling for hard fought varsity ties …

…the red cherry was now enroute to the acme of its trajectory after a thickish grazing of the outside edge of Raghav’s bat ….. for a quick moment three hearts stopped in mid beat….

Sudden death in suspended animation ….inches away from the outstretched glove of the heaving wicket keeper …..who would have gracefully sealed the hunt spectacularly to the full relish of the jiving crowd who had heard the bat snick….well , only if he had paid heed to his mother who remained eternally anxious about her son’s physical stature that would hamper his conjugal appeal to prospective brides …..He needed at least an inch more in height to have had his name in the three act play …Raghav © …….(b) Aquib . But that was not to be . the passing ball so much as threw a deprecatory and despairing glance over its shoulder …..at the flailing gloved hands …. uncontrollable rage on Aquib’s taut countenance …..air hurriedly being drawn into lungs to fuel the choicest expletives that his brain was processing at an electric pace …tongue drawn back and lips pursed to let out the first and the most pronounced of those four alphabets …. , the sixth in the English copy book–- …but histories change course pronto ..as an apple tossed up is said to turn thousand times before it hits the dust ….

The red cherry ground its teeth bracing itself in a humiliating rumination of what could have been ….and turned on its seam in a half attempt at snatching the last modicum of grace and pride ….before the disgraceful crash onto the unfriendly grass …

Fall it did , but face first in to the “fishing net ” ….the pair of palms fondly referred that way by the friends of their owner ….Kariachan ….who at that precise moment was levitating between the exaggerated first slip that he was fielding at and the wicket keeper – who appeared to be kissing the earth at that precise moment in gratitude of this feat – in an effort taking right side manoeuvre .

Effort taking …as Kariachan was a natural left hander !

The motley student crowd squatting here there –lots of boys and a smattering of prudishly dressed girls – erupted …as Raghav walked back ….he lifted the blade to an appropriate half mast greeting ….few of them , even those who were cheering for the fielding team returned appreciative nods ..some clapped

He clambered on to the ledge , loose earth and gravel made the climb unsteady, and stood next to a pile of sweaty shirts and grimy abdomen guards under a tree in a shabby pile …the closest it could get to a ‘dressing room ‘….

Then he saw her ….. the wavy hair flew about in the cool breeze of late October … she was looking in his direction….

Something clawed inside his mind , stopping him from a second look ….. the demons had fled …. Today even, the silhouettes would look majestic …

Yet …yet …

He missed it .. had he looked a second time ….he would infact have seen that she was clapping

“ You didn’t see Rajsree there Raghav ? “ …four steps ahead , Priya asked under hushed voice , and winked ..

God .. he had indeed a face ..a name …!

He thanked the sultry day and the trickling sweat….they hid the single pearl of a tear ….

“ Man , you played well “ …the thick voice from the Greek god …maybe there were a few genuine well wishers too…!

He winked back at both , grinding his teeth to reign the neck that was screaming to turn..

Away …away from dark corners , ridiculing silhouettes , screaming demons …hidden tears ….and fidgety half lives …..into a place called ‘belief’ …..

…a glowing speck in the horizon… for the first ever time in his life

– Binno M Joseph

6 Comments

  1. Binno, i had to read it few times to get the gist of things!
    We ladies frequented movies what we could afford..for sure, not as entertaining as the one you guys watched 🙂
    I remember, the mammotty fan batchmate screaming on top of her voice ‘ എന്തു നല്ല movie അല്ലേ’ just at the first scene- close up of mammotty’s കാല്‍ , when he gets out of the car 🙂
    I don’t watch much cricket. പക്ഷെ – Kohli യുടെ ബാറ്റിംഗ് അത്ര പോരാ 🙂
    Keep writing Binno.

    Like

    1. Thnx shy for d kind words..
      Riyaz consoled me abt lack of comments saying ..there are abt 100 views..now I know abt 99 were you reading..re reading ..ha…ha..cheers ..meet you soon hopefully

      Liked by 1 person

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