Editor’s Choice: The Unfortunate Commentator – Short Story of Cricket Commentator with Moral Lesson for Children
It was a cricket match. Live on the TV.
“Run Machine, Run Machine… Run Machine, Run Machine…” they shouted in a rhythm on the tea-stall. They were hundreds in number to witness the exciting match. It was a very good deal for the owner of the stall. He had sold 250 cups of tea already.
“Two balls to go, six runs to win,” informed the commentary whose sound was undermined by their shout.
It was the Run Machine, on the strike, had missed one of the two deliveries, but hit a six on the last ball.
“O, the Run Machine has done an almost impossible task for his team!!! India win!!…” informed the commentary.
“Bravo Run Machine!” they shouted repeatedly and started dancing. They were overwhelmed, excited as they were victorious.
When the crowd faded, an old and half-bald person asked a young man, “Do you know the real name of the Run Machine?”
“It is the Run Machine, what else?” said the young man.
“No, the real name?”
“I have been hearing his name ‘the Run Machine’ ever since my childhood and I never made any effort to know his real name. People know him only by this name.”
“You don’t know his real name but I know even the name of the person who gave him this name.” said the old man who also had enjoyed the match with the crowd.
It was a very lovely day—the fairly hot noon of the chilling February. The old man with his half-bald head was sitting leisurely on the chair with one foot on the other making almost a cross, wagging the downed foot, and enjoying his tea with the newspaper. His gestures continued to be reading the newspaper sometimes ‘interestingly’ and sometimes ‘un-interestingly.’
He was, perhaps, on the ninth page of the newspaper. As he had almost turned the page to look up the next page, his eyes were caught at the place where a small item was written. The item was covering hardly 3×2 square cm of area. Thus, it was a bit infrequent to capture it in the sight, especially for those who were interested only in thick headlines.
He was shocked to see the news!
The news had a very thin headline—“Mr RD Suman breathed his last.”
The old man got serious and more serious as he went through the lines. He remained shocked for a while and felt unconscious. When he gained his consciousness, he sighed, “Oh no! He is dead!!”, and put the newspaper on the table.
He put his hands on his bald head, which got inclined towards the ground. His eyes glanced the grassy ground.
A boy who had been very busy with his kite ran towards the old man shouting, “Grandfather…Grandfather,” and within no moment he reached him. The old man continued to be in that pose until his grandson’s shouts made him out of the world of frustration and agony.
A soft and immature sound came out with a puff, “Grandfather, see,” a puff, “I have some problem in this kite,” another puff, “it does not fly the way it used to,” a puff, “It gets turns badly when it is in the sky.”
The boy said again, but now in a raised tone, “Grandfather, see what’s wrong with my kite!”
But, the old man remained mute preserving his gloomy gesture.
Finally, the boy stirred him up with his shoulder and said, “Why don’t you see my kite? What’s wrong with you, Grandfather? ”
The old man was thrown out of his unconsciousness and reacted as if someone had interrupted in his slumber.
“Nothing, my son,” said the old man, mourning.
“No. there is some matter. Don’t try to hide it to me, Grandfather,” the boy insisted.
“Ah, he is dead now, my son!”
A glimpse of sorrow could be easily seen on his forehead creased and in his eyes moist.
“Who he!” the boy exclaimed. His eyes had almost come out!
“The man with the charisma and the gift of the gab,” said the old man.
“Who he, Grandfather?”
“Wait, I show you.”
The old man took the boy in the house in his room. The boy had the kite still in hand as if it also was eager to know who he was.
He unlocked his very old box and opened it. A gust of dusty wind flew and became more visible on the door and at the window. He picked up a framed photograph. He showed the photo to the boy.
“I think it’s you” rattled off the boy pointing his finger towards the photo, “but I don’t know the person whom you are shaking hand with.”
“He is Mr. RD Suman.”
“I don’t know him, I think. Who was he? Was he your friend?”
“He was a great commentator and a very classic cricket player. But he is no more,” said the old man wiping the dust on the photo by his hand.
“Oh, I see. Grandfather it is very sad news, isn’t it?”
“I want to know more about him, Grandfather,” the boy insisted and he almost forgot about the kite. His expressions revealed his curiousness.
The old man put the photo in the box and locked it. He sat on a chair and continued the tale,
“He was a great cricket player having all kinds of shots in his hand. He was a great fielder and at times, he proved himself a useful bowler. He was, in those days, better known as the ‘Cool Customer’. People even shortened his nickname and called as ‘the CC’ or ‘the Double C’.
“A couple of times, I got the privilege to see him play.
“He once visited the city. I had an opportunity to shake hands and also to have a photograph with him. When I asked him, “Do you know who gave you the name ‘the Cool Customer?”, he took no second and answered, “Well, how can I forget him? It was Mr. Damodar Narayan, the Ex-Captain of the Indian Team and a brilliant Commentator as well. ”
“I was amazed at how he could know the name of the originator of his name! His respect towards Mr. Damodar was a great credit to him.
“But, the Double C could not serve his country as much as he wanted. His cricketing career had been very short but very impressive.
“People could forget him for his cricket but they never could for his commentary. He narrated the cricketing events on the radio for more than twenty years. It is a very long period indeed!
“Oh, he had a fairly heavy voice—the most suitable voice for the radio commentary—the voice of the best of the best quality. Even the actors or anchors don’t possess that quality. The voice that could attract even the deaf!
“The silence would shout when he would say, “Hello there, this is RD Suman live from the Wankhede stadium,” or from Firoz Shah Kotla or from Eden Gardens…..
“How he used to narrate the situations! How he could transform moments into words!! Incredibly, very vividly, very lively—almost as lively as if you were watching the scene sitting in the ground! Every bit of second was enjoyable when he was in the commentary-box.
“I had an old radio which I bought by selling my bicycle that I got in my marriage as a gift. People would throng around the radio to listen to the commentary whenever there was a cricket match. Would you believe the number could increase even a hundred? Well, my radio might have been proud for its fortune and my unfortunate bicycle for its sacrifice!
“His brilliance and liveliness in the commentary would soon convert my radio-set into no less than a TV-set, and you know well how a crowd can convert a TV-set into no less than a theatre! People wanted no moment to waste in listening to the commentary.
“People would jump in the sky whenever they would hear him in his raised tone “what a shot for six!” or “O, he has clean bowled him!!” And their breath would stop when he would say, “A very loud appeal for LbW from the bowler” and people take a breath after hearing, “and the Umpire has given him out!!
“Simply, his vocal power was a God gift. ‘ RD Suman’ was the name more popular than the name of any cricketer. He had been the beat of millions of hearts for a number of years, undoubtedly.
“Alas, finally and unfortunately he was fired being told that he was too old to narrate!
“He gave many star players their nick-names. People know the players more and better by their nick-names than the original names.
“Do you know who named Akhil Pratap, one of the fastest fielders of the world, as ‘the Man with Wings’?”
“Was that RD Suman?” said the boy.
“Of course him; and Jerome Lilly as the ‘Ball-Blaster?”
“Mr. RD Suman?”
“Right, and your favourite batsman Virat Sen as the Run Machine? It was him alone.”
They were silent for a while until the boy broke into the ice, “Do you know Grandfather the Run Machine is coming in the city in this very week? Would you please take me there, Grandfather?”
“Well, of course I would. But, you will have to travel at least 30 miles for that. ”
“We will, grandfather. But, see what’s wrong with my kite.”
The old man started scrutinizing the kite and soon made it ready to fly by increasing its tail.
So, the old man was shocked to see the bad news and he was even more shocked because of the less coverage of the news. People should be made known of the departure of the Great Commentator. The country was unaware of the fact that it had lost a pearl that was made deserved only for ten lines somewhere on the ninth page!
He was the man who made the players known among the people, who gave muteness a terrific sound; who made the players famous; who made the game famous.
No tribute in the newspaper on his departure from anybody!
I was also shocked when I was reminded by the old man about RD Suman, the Great Commentator (I also read the story). I remember well; five years before he was fired from his service. He lived alone at his home place. Hardly anyone visited his home. People would have remembered their radio-guide for some years and eventually forgotten him. None had any idea how he would be living. His life was like a star that gleamed in the night and finally lost in the daylight.
Three days later the old man and the boy reached the city to see the world’s number one batsman, the Run Machine, Virat Sen.
The people, security guards, and media-persons surrounded him. The old man and the boy had somehow succeeded in piercing the crowd and reaching nearer to the Run Machine. The boy also succeeded in shaking hands with the batsman and taking an autograph of him. The boy asked by shouting, “Run Machine, you are a real run machine but do you know who was the first person to call you the Run Machine, and gave you this wonderful and famous name?”
The batsman definitely heard the question. He started thinking what kind of question that was. He was very much puzzled at this.
After taking his time, he answered, “I really don’t know.”
“But, I do know,” shouted the boy who was now on his grandfather’s shoulder.
Soon the security Guards pushed the old man out of the circle but the boy continued by saying, “My Grandfather told me that it was RD Suman. You should know it. You should know it, shouldn’t you?”
But, the run Machine was unable to listen to the answer as the sound of the boy lost in the crowd.