A barrier or other upright structure to prevent, control access or escape.
He was standing there, shabbily dressed covered in tattered clothes; continuously looking at the boys playing on the other of the society fence. Though his condition looked helpless, his eyes had a dream. His concentration was seamless, eyes beaming with passion.
As the ball crossed the fence, he ran in a frenzy without giving a second thought about the traffic. Some tyres screeched, abuses were hurled at him from a few middle aged people in their cars, boasting their riches. They were relieved as this bag of dirt did not come under their precious tyres.
Oblivious to everything, he happily came back with the ball.. Gasping for breath, a pungent smell accompanied him as his tattered clothes were drenched in sweat. With a big smile, he asked a question :
“Mujhe bhi khilaoge kya!!”
They saw him everyday watching eagerly from the other side. Though his class and caste did not matter to the children, his smile did. They invited him to this side and for once, he crossed the line.
He jumped in no time, shrugged all the dirt from his clothes and with a larger smile, took the field. It never occurred to him that he had made a mistake, a mistake of crossing the line, mistake of forgetting his place in this hierarchal society.
This was the fence created by the high class claiming the piece of land for their recreational activities, just for their recreation. On the other hand, for him there were enough dumping grounds, roads and the adrenaline rush of sleeping on footpath, hoping for the next morning.
His father worked as rag picker since his caste never allowed him to enter the pristine premises of society. His grandfather was a rag picker too and with age it was his destiny to inherit the legacy. Change might be the only constant but it was not meant for him.
Meanwhile he got the chance to bat, he was elated as he touched the woodwork for the first time. There was a stream of energy gushing through his whole body in that moment. He had seen a numerous cricket innings on the tea stall where he worked by the day. Sachin hitting a cover drive with poise, Dravid going on the backfoot and punching the ball through point, Sehwag lashing out on bowlers with all his power. He practiced each shot with his bat like stick, being careful with his footwork and always aware of the crease; he didn’t just watch cricket, he observed the game.
He gathered his attention and took a stance. The bowler, a boy of his age, came rushing in. He bowled as fast as he could, imitating the action of his favourite bowler. He made a wild swing, but could not make contact. Luckily, he survived.
He controlled the excitement running through his head and gathered himself to face the next ball. He swung again with same intensity, and boom! He made a contact and a big mistake.
The ball went flying high just like his aspirations and crashed into a window on second floor. The shattering of the window glass sounded like his dreams crushing against the walls of this society.
A middle aged man came rushing into the park, furious, eyes filled with anger, fists clinched. He was moving quickly towards him. The boy got scared. He froze, squeezing the grip tighter. His hands started shivering as the man approached closer, heart beat went up racing, eyes started to blink faster and tears were ready to erupt. Rest of the boys too stood still as the man finally arrived right in front of him.
The man first made him realise his position in the society. Reiterated what was his job, what he should not do, why was he allowed to live and the lines he should never cross pointing to the fence. Then he decorated his face with a slap. The little boy lost his balance and fell on the ground. The man then kicked him aside, snatched the bat from his hand throwing it away and asked him to leave the ground. The man then realised that now he has to take a bath with Gangajal since he had touched an untouchable. He did a sin in not ruthless beating a little child but in touching an untouchable. The Gods must be really angry.
The man was even more furious. While the little lad was picking himself up; he kicked him again in his stomach helping him cover some more yards towards his fate. The boy got up weeping and fumbling, some blood dripped from his lower lip. Although he felt immense pain all through his body, he did not utter a word and left the ground quickly. His dreams were quicker to leave, so did his smile. His memories were haunted, so did his passion for cricket.
He realised why was he asked to never cross the fence. He always asked this question to his father but never got an answer. He got one today.
He sat outside the fence, his face sticking to it. The eyes were continuously poised at that second floor window, looking at the shattered glass. He played with stones, picked up rags but never held that bat again nor his smile. He never crossed the fence.