I got into the rickshaw.It already had two passengers.A girl my age and an old uncle. The rickshaw-wallah looked back and said,"Meter pe chalega(Pay according to the meter)." I nodded my head before asking him,"Meter toh chalega,na?(At least the meter will work)".He smiled.Thus the drive began.
I was returning from college after writing my exams.I guess the paper wasn't too easy,which is why I skipped my walk home and got into the rick.The rickshaw is a very quaint little thing.Though I do not take it very often,it is something I enjoy riding in.Better than a car or a bike.Maybe because I feel safer in it.The ride home is a long one,the driver knew this better than anybody else.Sensing two young people in his 'Feraree',he switched on the FM.The speakers behind us blared,for a minute the world went silent.The poor uncle could not help but mumble in irritation.He glared at the driver,who oblivious of his doingsang along in merriment.I could not help but smile.Well,I loved the song.The uncle caught me in the act,glared at me.I looked the other way.
Halfway through the journey now.We were past the ever ensuing traffic of the main road and on the last stretch home.This was the rougher part of the road.The rickshaw wallah seemed very confident of his driving skills,the uncle wasn't.In the meanwhile he(driver) turned to me and started alking India's chances in the world cup.I,for a moment was caught unawares.Then taking a cautious approach,I expressed a positive wish that maybe they might just make it this time.People can be real sensitive about cricket in this country.He laughed.My bluff was called.I had no choice but to argue in support of the topic.I was facing a tough opponent.He seemed to know every flaw that Sunil Gavaskar and Vengsarkar might have ovelooked while selecting the team.Suddenly the wise old man spoke up beside me.Well,the debate got tougher coz,he belonged to the generation that had seen the cup home.He started comparisons of the present team and "victorious" one.The rickshaw driver decided to take the safer side.The girl,who somehow seemed familiar,was worrying sick lest the driver should bang the convoy into an oncoming divider.We three were unaware of her fears,and perhaps a little insensitive too.I know exactly what she might have thought,"MEN",just like mom and many other unfortunate women do.
We reached home finally.I got down and paid the fare and bid farewell to my entertaining friend.The uncle warned me to watch out for his predictions.The driver grinned and asked me when the matches will begin.I informed him the dates.Just as we were about to leave,the last member of our party remarked the silliness of the whole debate.The driver snapped,"You would never know",and sped off.She looked at me in surprise.I just shrugged.
IN a country where the pitches carry the name of the 'Caesar' Sachin,followed by the 'Triumvirate' of Dada,Jammy and 'the new kid' Dhoni;cricket is more than just another sport.It can make friends,enemies.It is a religion that runs much deeper in our bloods than any other thing.