The last few days have been strange and it took me some time to realize what was happening around me – too many new things that I’ve never seen before. Dad is home on most days before the sunset, mom isn’t insisting on controlling the remote anymore. My brother and sister, who normally refuse to acknowledge each other’s existence, sit side by side, laughing and talking. And they all assemble in front of the TV every day, together. They scream, they shout, they applaud. They even jump up and down and give each other high fives. But I didn’t like all that noise in the beginning so I refused to sit with them for the first few days, regardless of the fact that they called me to join them.
Then one day they dragged me out and I had no choice but to sit and watch TV with them. That’s when I saw it – the most beautiful object in the world. Perfectly round, the people on the TV held it with utmost care. They rolled it between their hands affectionately, they showed it to each other occasionally, they even practiced by rolling their arm over before finally letting it sail across the ground in a beautiful throw. But then came the other people – the ones I thought were the bad ones. They didn’t care about the beautiful ball that came rolling across the large lawn. They just hit it, like it would harm them if it so much as touched their leg. I didn’t like the force with which they hit it. The poor ball just went rolling across the grass as others jumped trying to stop it from getting away. I leaped for rescue and screamed at them to get to it faster but my sister shushed me as she didn’t like my yelling. I looked to her for an answer – an explanation for the brutal way they were treating the ball. And angry as she was, she gave me the answer.
It was a game. It was different from the ones I’m used to, but it was still a game. The objective was to hit the ball as far as possible. That’s how they earned points or runs. And when I turned back to look at the TV, I had a whole new outlook. The men with the flat wooden sticks – the bats – weren’t bad. They loved the ball as much as I did. They respected it and prepared themselves every time it came bouncing towards them. They hit it slowly sometimes, and often with a force that sent it flying.
As days passed, I began to look forward to when they’d hit that little round ball of joy with all their might and send it floating across the sky, far and free. Everyone shared my sentiment sometimes and I would shout and yell with them, as the ball landed in the large crowd surrounding the field. But at other times, my yelling would upset them. They did not seem to like the ball reaching the crowds. I still don’t understand why and in these cases, I’d get reprimanded for my exuberance.
But I still love the game. I love to watch the ways the men twist their bats and even themselves to hit the ball hard, the ball that they seem to respect and fear. I love the happiness on the faces of the men as they watch it land midst the waiting crowd. Like Dad, I love the one they call Steve Smith and his small dance like movements as he prepares to face the ball. Like my brother, I love ‘Viru’ who doesn’t do much other than sending the ball to all the waiting people. I love to see the ball fly, the night sky in the background, with nothing stopping it until it reaches where it needs to. And most of all, I love being surrounded by my family as they laugh, clap, jump, shout and together do everything that they are generally too busy to do.
They call it the ‘IPL’ and they discuss it every day, even when the match is not going on. It’s a good thing too; it gives me a chance to be surrounded by everyone I love, at the same time, something that happens very rarely.
Today’s match is over. I loved watching it, but I don’t know who won. All I know is that the ball spent most of its time in the air and I couldn’t get my eyes off it. I wanted, more than anything, to be waiting there with the crowd, for the ball to reach me so I could catch it. I may not have got my chance at that ball. But now, I’m off with my own ball. After all, it’s time for my walk, and I love nothing more than playing with my ball and my family – What else does a dog need?