“For once cricket has claimed you, it never lets you go.” This proverb goes so well with most of us. Right from making silly rules to decorating self-prepared score-books, it all used to be very serious affairs. We were so crazy for cricket that we were ready for anything. Cricket to us was more than play. We were busy preparing and decorating our score-books with radium, cricketers’ pictures stolen from newspaper. This stuff was in our routine till our stay in Junior School.

When we entered Class V. Ma’am Khanna used to be class teacher of V ‘A’. She made me class cupboard in-charge and handed me the key of class cupboard. At the end of March in year 2003, we ran ‘out of stock’ of our Cosco Cricket Ball. We saw that Class V Girls were issued ‘Cosco Cricket Ball’. One of the boys approached Girls and tried to convince them that how this ball meant for us and they should give us as they didn’t play cricket. But, the girls were not convinced to hand over the ball to us. All the efforts went in vain.

As Sunday was approaching, our urge for the ball grew more intense. We all heard a very popular Hindi Proverb- ” Ghee Seedhi Ungli Se Na Nikle, Toh Ungli Tedhi Karni Padti Hai”.

It was the need of the hour to act upon this famous proverb. It was decided unanimously that we have to steal the ball anyhow as we believed that nothing was above our cricket match. It was a fine Sunday morning, and we had no Cricket Ball to play, so we sat in a corner and were planning to get the ball. Ma’am Archana Srivastava was M.O.D. She had an eagle eye, she noticed that Class V Boys were standing in a group and sensed something suspicious. The first play-time went in planning. After lunch, we got afternoon-play and this was the right time for that particular act. A few boys were put on CK (OG Lingo for Watchman). Two boys of our class, along with me, quietly entered the classroom. Within few minutes, we completed the task. Now the next challenge was to hide the ball because girls would be on look out as soon as they get to know. I opened the Class Cupboard and emptied a Camelin Ink Bottle Box and put the ball inside the box. We came out and without speaking, we conveyed to all our class boys that the task had been completed successfully.

Hardly, ten-fifteen minutes would have passed, when Ma’am Srivastava (M.O.D.) called me. She asked me to handover the key of Class Cupboard to her. I gave her and she asked me to leave. I came back where our class boys were sitting and I told them about the key. All of us were so scared that now the matter will reach Big Ma’am (Head Mistress). We started thinking about the excuses. But there was no excuse which could save me. I started praying to Almighty as I had no other options. I was very tense from inside. Ma’am Srivastava came to us and handed over the key to me and asked us who all had stolen the ball. And she was quite sure that we had done this but she didn’t have any proof. The only statement which gave a strong clue to prove us suspects was the statement of one of the boys- “If you don’t give us the ball, you will be in trouble”. When Ma’am Srivastava kept insisting us to return the ball, It came as a relief to me.

Now we started playing emotionally with the girls. We stopped talking to them and we forced them to realize that they had committed a mistake by suspecting us. For a few days, this drama kept on. It was time to unleash our so called Cosco Cricket Ball, and a few of us soaked the ball in water for around ten minutes and rubbed it on the wall and ground, to make it look like an old ball. And thereafter, we played many matches.

The best part was- “Ulta Chor Kotwal ko Daante” as we stole the ball and then asked the girls to feel sorry for suspecting us. When I remember that particular day, I get nostalgic. But, I have no regret for stealing the ball, as it was done totally in a state of immaturity and as boys I think our childhood must have these kinds of events.

(This excerpt is from my upcoming book “Life Around An Acorn”.)

– Modassir Mushtaque


This piece was shared by Modassir Mushtaque (School Vice Captain, Patel House Captain & School Cricket Captain, Session 2009-10) on Oct 17, 2019.

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