Alright. I am 22 now. Age entitles me , if nothing else, to some rudimentary respect on the cricketing field. So , when kids half my age, and I do not mean "half" as a hyperbole or a linguistically convenient approximation for unwieldy fractions, when kids half my age appoint me as the match referee or puny captains who still like lollipops, smoke faux sweet cigarettes and play WWE cards in the back of the school bus( smash- double-smash) pick me last from the available portfolio and that too with great reluctance writ large on their chubby faces, my readers will agree that my rage is entirely just and if the selfsame reader happens to come across a leader in the Patna city supplement page 3 reporting the retirement of Yours truly from all forms of of the game - gully, rooftop and apartment foyers(I know, Page 3 in Patna would publish _anything_ , and I do mean anything), such a career decision would not cause much surprise or consternation, notwithstanding the deplorable sight of such an immense cricketing potential going waste, and all due to the neglect and apathy meted out by the cruel and dastardly cabal of U-15s.
I had never had it easy, right since childhood. Dentists said, I had an inherent internal structural imbalance in my dental substructure that would never allow me to wield a willow well, but my parents never allowed the deformity to curtail my aspirations or set limits to what I could or could not do. So there I was, trying to put mandible over mandible, canines over canines even as I faced the local ground toughies bowling sharp swingin' 'uns into my delicate parts; often succeeding in jeopardizing gazillions of Mini Me's one million at a time. I chugged in ,a menacing 200 pounds of hulking aerodynamic projectile, my all-awry whites(or browns, if you caught me in a no-brush-January)clenched tightly as every boundary across the ropes felt like a kick in my ample gut. On one of those morose foggy winter days, I even had a couple of my front teeth knocked out by a wayward ball that chose to rise to the heavens in a motion of supreme irony and chose to descend at exactly the wrong time in exactly the wrong place , as if to laugh and make fun of my haphazard tusks that made me so helpless in the one game that was the only one way ticket to High School cool. And no, dear reader, I did not somehow catch the ball on the rebound ,much to the surprise and incredulity of the entire audience in a crackling last-ball nailbiter of a tournament grand finale. I was too busy foraging for my pearly whites.
So, there I was, the eternal loner, rolling around on the playground, like a big ball of tumbleweed, kicked around by captains that audibly groaned when they realized someone simply _had_ to pick me once I got myself into the roster. The usual rules of the rough, tumble and grime did not apply- I went in to bat last, as a sort of a glorious finish to an innings, combusting almost instantly and I can count the days I was allowed to bowl, mostly because the quorum was not complete or the strike bowlers, the first change, the part timers all had exams. I fielded in the most arcane of positions too, sometimes, my captain used to posit me in an out-of-line-of-sight position from the batsman on the off chance of Bernoulli's theorem breaking relativistic limits and to account for superhyperbolic spinning curvettes of balls that got trapped in my not insubstantial gravitational field. Other days, I usually umpired, for I was known far and wide to be just and fair,as can be judged by the fact that only games officiated by me had LBWs as an official method of dismissal. Sure, the bowlers had to take a curved path into his run-up to prevent substantial space time perturbations in his deliveries but with time and practice they soon corrected for this anomaly as well.
Maybe, I was a fool to think ,things will change with time. Maybe as I grew up, kids smaller than me will respect me for my experience and wisdom and yield to me on matters of team selection, batting order, bowling strategies as well as team names, anthems and mascots. The Root canal I had last summer was supposed to be my coming of age ceremony of sorts - finally all the demons that stopped me from achieving greatness on the concrete rooftops of the city would be gone and I would rise from the ashes, a veritable phoenix, ready to hit grounded shots that not only raced away to the boundary(walls) but also ricocheted off awkwardly placed water tanks and drying clothesline so as to deny my opponents 'you-are-out-because-the-ball-felldown-now-go-down-four-flights-of-stairs-and-get-it-back-from-the-adjoining-house-yes-yes-theone-with-rabid-dobermans'.
But it didn't help. Not one bit.
So here I am, officiating matches or playing in ones with rules like OneTipOneHandOut( self explanatory), BoundaryIfItHitsTheWheatPatchDryingInTheSun and YouBowlWithAPlasticBallToThoseLessThanThreeFootTall. Only this time, the kids don't order me around telling me to bat lower down the order or not allowing me to bowl. Nowadays ,they just suggest and leave the rest to my good sense. History continues unchanged.