The Cricketer’s Smile

I was 7 years old then. My dad was detected with cancer. He, with my mom, went to Delhi for the medication. And I being too young to understand all this, was left with grandma in my village. I spent there 3 months there.

The houses there stood in line. One after another. There was a boy named Ryan who lived in the house just next to ours. Grandma once told me that he was my brother in relation. He was a really nice guy. He was thin and pale yet very engaging. It took few days for us to become best friends.

We had one thing in common. We both played cricket well. Teams fought to take us in. They would finally settle for one in each team. Sometimes, I would win. And many a times, his team would win. Undoubtedly, he played a lot better than me and any other else. He was known for sending the balls out of the park.

“One day, my son will play for India”, his dad would proudly say. And no one argued.

There were things that I hated about him. Like he would come every morning at four and drag me to the nearby playground. The playground was very big, and situated just beside the road. I never ran for more than 15 minutes. And for other 15 minutes, he would drag me around the field.

“Stop it Ryan!, I don’t want to be a cricketer.” I would pray.

“You lazy lad, run a little more. You are getting fatter everyday” He would say running.

“Please, Please leave me now. This is enough for today.” I would urge.

“What do you think, businessmen need not to be healthy? Keep quiet and just run.” He replied as usual.

There were also the things that I liked about him. Like after that maneuver he would take me to the nearby sweet shop and order samosas, which was my all time favorite thing.

I don’t know how those good days raced away and became past. Three months later, my dad came back fully cured to take me back home to Shimla, where we lived and I read.

That day, for the first time, I saw ever smiling Ryan weeping.

He said,”Brother, promise you will come again. I will miss you in the mornings.”

And I said “I will miss you every time I will eat samosas, which I will do daily.” And I hugged him tight.

We both knew it would be very long time when I will come back. Because grandma was also going along with us. Even though, I promised that I will return soon.

Fifteen years passed. Life around me changed. I was running a multinational company now. One thing that didn’t change was the memory of my best friend Ryan.

One day I finally went to the village, in hope of finding him.

“He will be happy to see me this way.” I thought.

When I was ambling through the road in the village, I saw huge crowd surrounding the playground. Almost every inch of the boundary was covered with people. I somehow peeped inside them, and tried to watch what was going on.

I saw a hunk guy of about 23 years old was sending every ball bowled to him effortlessly out of the park. And every one clapped on every shot. And that guy smiled after every shot.

I asked, a 7 year old boy standing near me, “Who’s that guy?”

“Our Pride”, he replied clapping.

I pretended that I didn’t know that guy. But deep down I knew he was Ryan. Because he still smiled in the same way.

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