She had made up her mind. Suicide was the only option left on the cards for her. She took a piece of paper and pen and began to write. ‘This is my final note. I have decided to end this depressing and monotonous life. I feel like living in a jail where my husband is the jail warden. My thoughts are locked up in a cage and I want to set them free.’
After completing the note,Vimala kept it under a book and came out of the room. In the living room, her husband ,Suraj, was watching TV. A cricket match between India and Pakistan was being telecast on TV. There is something special in an Indo Pak match. The emotions run high and every cricket fanatic under the sun experiences hoopla,trepidation and vehemence. Suraj was no different. Like millions of Indians, he was glued to his T.V set.
Vimala sat on a sofa near him. He could not care less as he was concentrating on the match. It was India’s second batting. Sehwag and Gambhir walked in to the field. The target was 293. Sehwag faced the first delivery. Umar Gul bowled a nicely tossed up delivery outside off and Sehwag slammed it to extra cover for four runs. Suraj applauded joyously and said,”Sehwag will score a century”.
Seeing her husband happy,Vimala gathered enough courage and said,”I want to work. I got a job offer today. Its about an hour long train journey away from our house. I can come back by evening.”
Suraj replied in a firm voice,”I have made my stand clear in the past. Its a ‘NO’. I earn enough money for us to live happily”.
He again got lost in the world of cricket. The score was 102/0. It seemed India would cruise to victory easily. But India received its first blow when Sehwag misjudged a ‘doosra’ from Saeed Ajmal and got bowled.
Vimala thought that this is the last opportunity to speak. So she audaciously said,”You never give me money.I have my needs. I have my dreams. I will earn money to fulfill them.”
Suraj got up angrily and broke the glass of wine in his hand. He said,”You come from a village. You don’t have dreams.”
Yes, she was from a village. But she always dreamed of a better life. In her childhood, she was deprived of love. She passed 12th standard and could not perceive higher education because of poor financial conditions. She always dreamed of a ‘rajkumar’ who would come and give her all the love that she craved for all her life. But she was yet to hear any kind words from her husband.
Wickets started to fall in quick succession. Indian batting order collapsed. The score was 123/4. “We have lost it”,a distressed Suraj said while shaking his head.”
Dhoni walked in to bat at number 6. Vimala remembered her neighbor saying ‘ha manus panka firto tasa danda firavto’(like fan rotates,this guy spins his bat). She did not know much about cricket. But she used to watch every match with her husband because that is the only time she used to see him happy. But if India loses a match she would not dare to come near him.
Dhoni kept rotating strikes.It had become anybody’s game now. Suraj went into his room to check if there was any messages on his phone. He noticed a letter under a book. He began to read that letter. It was the suicide note. He knew there were problems. But he never imagined that his arrogance could lead her to take this drastic step. He did not know what to do. He went back to hall and sat on the sofa. He asked,”How much money do you need?”.
“I don’t need any money”,she replied. There was silence in the room.
Meanwhile the fifth wicket partnership broke. Ajmal took a hat-trick in the 46th over. Dhoni was at the non striker’s end. India was in deep trouble as they had to score 30 runs from 3 overs with 3 wickets in hand.
Suraj burst out. He let his emotions flow for the first time. He cried and asked,”What do you want from me?”.She was seeing him cry for the first time. She went and sat near him and said,”I want you to respect me. I want you to consider my feelings.”
It was the last over of the match. India needed 15 runs from the last over. Dhoni was on strike. Umar Gul ran into bowl the first delivery. A short length delivery and Dhoni pulled it to square leg for four runs. The next ball was a full length delivery and he swung his bat,but he just missed the ball. 11 runs needed from 4 balls.
There was tension in the room. Their heart beats were racing as they were witnessing a thrilling contest. “You could go to work if you wish so”,Suraj said.
The third ball was a full length delivery on the leg stump and Dhoni struck it over the mid-wicket for four runs. Another full length delivery but this time he failed to time the shot. The ball went up in the air. Hafeez got underneath the ball but failed to catch it. The batsmen ran 2. Now 5 runs needed from 2 balls.
Vimala said,”Wrong thoughts had come to my mind”. Suraj interrupted,”You don’t have to say anything. I understand.”
Second to last delivery of the match,Gul pitched in a short ball. Dhoni missed it and every Indian missed a heartbeat.5 runs needed from 1 ball.
For the first time in her life,Vimala prayed for an India win. Cricket was never a major part of her life. But today it was everything. It could easily break the tension in the room. It could change her life.
The last delivery of the match. A good length ball onto the middle stump. Dhoni spins his bat. Its a helicopter shot! The ball is out of the stadium. India wins.
Vimala and Suraj jumped out of their seats with joy. They hugged each other. Suraj kissed her and said,”I love you”. This is all she wanted to hear. This moment is what she had dreamed all her life.
Cricket in our minds,cricket in our hearts,cricket runs in our blood.This game could change lives in this country.