July 27, 2009

Revisiting Playtime

He rode quietly, feeling the wind on his face, feeling her snuggling up to him behind, pillion rider wife. The song he had caught off the radio at a snacks store still auto-played in his head.

Eleven children, all in their khaki shorts, scratches healing on their rugged knees, scuttling between lanes with bats on their shoulders, balls bouncing ahead, chasing, chasing until they fell in line behind each other, all the way to the play ground. Their own stadium. The best cricket team, born to defeat. Playing on the world's best pitch. Sydney. Sydney, tucked in quietly, amidst wavy grass and dusty lanes, in a small town to the east of Tamil Nadu.


He shifted into fourth gear, avoiding overtaking a rash biker straight ahead. Safety was imperative, remembering the figure that was huddled in shape with his body, gently humming a song that only she knew - her own piece of nostalgia, perhaps.

Five-over cricket, rushed in between study times and mothers shouting, the time for lighting the evening lamp overhead already. Hungry growls escaping from stomachs, while all eleven made their way to his house and they sat perched on the verandah, slapping in jest, giggling, elbowing, singing songs from different movies. The idea? No more than one song from one movie.

He would hum an unfamiliar song then - tricking his opponents into believing that the movie was not taken - and when they sang a song from the movie, he would squeal - Taken! The others would complain and he would guffaw along with a few others who were in on the secret.

He turned at the bend, heading home, asking her if she needed to buy something for the house. She thought for a minute before saying no. He went straight into the parking lot and pulled over. She jumped off the bike in one smooth motion, heading for the elevator. He parked.

The song played all over again in his head. Only he knew, a well-kept secret. A not very popular song from a popular film that he sings. Time flies. Nobody notices the sands sift. Except a few who are in on the secret.