Teacher’s Colony Oval
I saw a cricket field in that space, houses
Infiltrating invisible ropes. Grass lush on either side,
the bore-well had water at 20 feet when we moved in.
The surveyor stones sticking out
Like beacons of hope—of property booms
and malls and cinema halls—one of them
stood in for the stumps, the part above the dent，
shaped like a man’s neck, did not count.
A beaten track led down to Lakshman Mama’s
house, just beyond the cow corner where the slogs
landed. At mid-on was my house, a nervous
fielder with a tip up his sleeve
for the bowler marking his run-up.
Mary Teacher’s house waited at long off, compound wall
armed with biblical verses, a substitute moving
in for the kill. And when I played the square cut,
the rubber ball, on its fake seam, rolled across the narrow
road and struck the Great Wall
erected by the richest-man-in-town to spite
the residents for spurning his proposition
—to name the colony after his father—
Stretching north-south till it reached the highway
caging us in, like a twisted twin of Ariadne’s thread.
For a household ticking all its boxes, we did not watch
cricket at home. My football crazy father had
a cricket-shaped smirk. In school, when ten year old peers
shed copious tears over Vinod Kambli’s sad amble back
to Pavilion without losing his wicket, I heckled them
like the Calcutta crowd. Cricket is a lazy man’s game,
my dad said. Also Bernard Fucking Shaw.
In the common TV room, Cricket knew no winters.
When not scouting for new talent in the second rung games
or Ranji, I joined the boys in the rectangular gully between
blocks A&B, keeping wickets behind the scalpel carved line
on the Ashoka tree, just below the random heart and arrow.
At times, Catcher was in the game too, patrolling
the boundary where clothes once wet hung from the nylon
line, sleepy eyes following the ball’s arc post-facto,
the right hand, however, cutting its flight off every time,
as if the toothbrush sticking out his foamy mouth
was an antenna detecting the travel plans of rubber spheres
Vivekanand Selvaraj currently lives in China and would very much like to introduce himself as a poet. He writes in both English and Tamil and translates from Chinese and English to Tamil and also from Tamil to English. His work has appeared in TBLM, Nether Quarterly, Sonic Boom, Vayavya and The Freedom Review. His debut collection of Tamil poems, Sudhandhiram Oru Dabba was released in January 2021 (Manalveedu Publishers).