The twelve-inch black and white Onida was switched on and volume kept to a minimum as everyone else slept. The TV will not be switched on this early in the morning too often in its decades’ long existence. Dipak Patel bowls the first over and Srikanth being himself holes out for a duck. Ten years old, he had never owned a bat till then (other than the cloth washing bat ‘thaapi’ that his mother had) nor he will own one later, but after the 1992 cricket world cup spirit of Imran Khan called him and he announced that he wanted to be a cricketer.
The parent’s day at school is over and he says bye to his mother at the gate. She walks the half kilometer to DC chowk, saving five rupees that the rickshaw would have charged. As she limps to her bus, he puts the ten rupee note she had just given him in his pocket and runs to his hostel dorm where boys are busy going through the goodies’ parents have left behind for them. One of them has a lot of fancy chocolates. ‘My uncle in merchant navy got these for me. He earns lacs every month.’ When school principal asked him what he wanted to do, he announced proudly, ‘I want to make a lot of money.’ Although he never set foot on one, at that time merchant navy ships called him.
Three years at Mumbai office were over. HR asked him where he wanted his next posting. ‘Some place like Brazil or Caribbeans,’ he joked a wish. Five years later as he submitted his resignation, having been to more countries than his wish but never Brazil or Caribbeans, his then boss looked at him questioningly. As a longing, of soil, of words, called him, he answered, ‘I want to go home.’
A few days back, as he lay in his bed, on the threshold of sleep, (and on the threshold of the fifth decade of his life), he heard her voice.
‘Your three wishes.’
He knew the voice that called. He didn’t know the answer.
‘I need to think,’ he said.
‘Genies don’t wait,’ the voice said.
In the dreams that followed he was a young boy chasing dreams.
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