Summer Camp

Posted on May 1, 2021


Vikram M N, who has published film articles and short stories in this blog has come up with his second novel ‘Summer Camp’. The first draft written close to ten years before and even before his first novel ‘Neha – Yet Another Love Story’ Summer Camp started out as a novel about a young boy associated with cricket but with time it has evolved into an interesting pre-teen phase of an individual which not only talks about cricket but also the philosophy of a young boy, how his mind works at that age, his friends, acquaintances, role models and various life events. The book is available now in the below sites.

His first book is available in the same site as well as in Flipkart and Amazon IND, US and UK as both hard copy and kindle version.

Summer Camp - Front Cover

Here is an excerpt from Summer Camp …

As last Sunday coaching had not happened, I was eager beyond words for the next Sunday. Rajagopalachari Sir had come there very early. I greeted him as soon as I saw him. My dad too said, “hello” and shook hands with him before going out from that place.

We recapped the offside, leg side and straight stokes. He announced us to play match that day. As we were thirty students in all, the team was divided into fifteen each.

Iqbal was there too. Another gentleman who was tall and lean, whose name was Mustafa was the umpire.

Iqbal asked us, “Who wants to be captain?” New fellows who joined last week Shantosh and Rafeez, both a couple of years older to me, lifted their hands.

“Ok tell me who is the captain?” he asked them both.

They answered, “Azhar”. Iqbal nodded disapprovingly. Then one by one, our set of guys started to tell everyone’s name in the Indian team, “Jadeja” “Kumble” “Dravid”. People gave a whole lot of answers. I was sure of Azhar being the captain but I didn’t dare open my mouth.

‘Wait… Wait…” cried Iqbal. Everyone kept quiet.

Then he continued, “I didn’t even complete my question. Captain of what? Cricket or hockey or football? Both of you are not fit to be captain”

He chose Nadeem and some other guy to be the captain. Reason being both of them had cut their hair short and had a fake smile in place.

Mustafa tossed the coin. Nadeem, my team captain won the toss and elected to bat. It was a fifteen over match. I was in Nadeem’s team with Shantosh and Iqbal. Ismail and Rafeez were in opposite team. I didn’t know the names of the other players.

The match started and we got to a score of 87. A respectable total. I didn’t get to bat as only eleven could bat as we were a team of fifteen. This type of setup was new to me where eleven players from fifteen bat and eleven players get to the field. It was an idea to give chance to maximum number of players. Mustafa said that those who didn’t get to bat will be given preference while bowling.

Our team batsmen played really well. Shantosh was a class act. He scored most of the runs and his shots were stylish too. Rafeez was good with the ball. He bowled fast. They were easily the best players out of the lot. They should’ve been the captain but Iqbal had other ideas.

It was our turn to bowl. Before I could go, people ran to the field so I had to sit out for the first 5 overs. Their score was 35 for no loss. After drinks break Mustafa made sure that those who didn’t bat got into the field.

I was put in the third man region. The most neglected position in cricket field. The least talkative guy who doesn’t know anyone in the group would be put there and I was put there as I didn’t have any command over there.

We took the second drinks break after nine overs after much struggle because we all were so thirsty. They were 67 for 2 and were batting pretty well. By then most of the parents started coming back to pick up their children. My dad had not gone to office that day so he too came.

He was sitting there in the road roller along with Mustafa and Iqbal. He asked me, “What did you do?”

I said, “I didn’t get a chance”

“You won’t get a chance if you simply stand in some corner. You should ask for it,” said my dad.

Nadeem was there too. I introduced him as the captain. My dad asked him to give me chance. He blushed saying the team situation was not good.

Then when I went to stand near third man my dad asked me to stand somewhere in front so that people will know that I exist. I did as he said and stood at short third man.

After 10 overs the score was 69 for 2. We didn’t have any hope. I was in my dream world. Suddenly Nadeem threw the ball to me and asked me to bowl.

Given the ball I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t tell him that I did not know to bowl. I had never bowled in my life. In our street we only threw ball or rather chuck it than bowling.

The umpire was Mustafa, along with him, Ismail too was standing as he was the next batsman to get in. They asked me for my guard.

“Guard?” I asked but before they could come to know of my ignorance I said, “Right arm over the wicket off spin” I didn’t know head or tails of what I said. So, I told the first thing which came to my mind.

I heard someone saying “over the wicket” and the word “off spin” I had read it in cricket cards which I for free for Big Fun bubble gum. I used to collect them. I took seven steps from the crease in forty-five degree angle to the stumps and ran in to bowl. As I ran in, I delivered the ball with the back of the hand facing me and the ball facing umpire.

The ball pitched in good length area on the fifth stick line and kept low but turned dangerously and hit the middle stick. All three sticks fell on the ground. That was such a wonderful sight. I gave a huge cry without my knowledge. There was a huge commotion. People from every part of the ground came running around to congratulate me. All gave me high five. I had seen that kind of celebration only in the matches in TV. I had always wondered why people so far away in ground would come and congratulate just for one wicket. That day I understood the emotion. There were huge grins by the coach, my dad and Mustafa.

Ismail ran to the crease to take guard. The celebration went on for a while. Everyone patted my shoulder and the next seven steps that I took to reach the start of my bowling mark were awesome. I was all smiles. People were cheering like crazy. They were shouting, “Come on Vikram… come on…” I could hear it from every part of the ground. Nadeem who was standing at the mid-wicket and Shantosh at mid-on were looking at me and clapping. I felt like a Hero.

With Ismail at the crease, I came on to bowl rather confidently this time. Again, the ball pitched near fifth stick line kept low turned dangerously. It hit the pads of Ismail. Everyone started to appeal and were disappointed for not given out. I didn’t appeal. I was never used to appealing. That too for LBW. There was no LBW rule in street cricket.

With each ball the cheering went louder. The next three balls too he got in pads and people appealed vociferously. The last ball, out of sheer desperation Ismail gave a huge heave. He couldn’t middle it. The ball went straight to Shantosh but still Ismail ran. He threw directly to my end and hit the sticks. Mustafa gave him out. Ismail was disappointed, “Kya Mustafa bhaiyamae to reach kardiya.” (What Mustafa sir, I reached already) He went away saying that.

Our team got excited. It was a maiden wicket for me along with a run out. Couldn’t have asked more. I couldn’t concentrate on the match from then on. I wasn’t put in third man. I was there in front, in mid-wicket. Once the ball came to me. I fumbled and gave an extra run still people didn’t scold me. I loved being the center of attraction.

I was given the second over. Mustafa smiled at me when I gave my cap to him. Only then I realized that I bowled with cap on for the first over. That’s another thing I didn’t understand, as to why, the bowlersgave cap to the umpires. But as everyone gave around that time, I too gave. He asked my guard for formality, which I said.  The first two balls were dot balls. The third one was again a bowled. This time it hit the leg stick, nevertheless, every stick fell. Again commotion, again praise, again high five. I was definitely the man of the match.

The fourth ball went for a single and fifth ball was again a bowled. Everyone came to give me high five. Shantosh said to Nadeem, “Better make everyone stand here, people have to come there from boundary to give high five to this guy.” I blushed for the comment. Shantosh hit a direct hit once again and all the batsmen were back in the pavilion.

One cannot bowl more than two over, so while I took back the cap Mustafa gave me a pat at my back and the whole team applauded till I went to my place. We won comfortably and people ran to take off the stumps.

I waved good bye to everyone. People whom I hardly knew were calling me by my name and all of them shook hands. They waved at me while I was in my dad’s scooter. I sat in the in the pillion seat in the reverse direction, with my face turning towards them.

While returning home I asked my dad for Pepsi. We bought two pet bottles. It had never happened. I never ask for more than one and I never get more than one too. I drank one among the two before reaching home. I told the whole story to my mother and grandmother during lunch. They were listening with wide smiles.

“Next time, stand in front. I can’t ask them to give you the ball. It won’t be nice,” said my dad.

“Oh, you told them huh?” asked I.

“Yes, otherwise how’ll they know that you were there? See, you yourself didn’t know that you had talent. Only if you try, you’ll know what you’re good at” he replied.

I nodded. I was very elated that day but didn’t share with people I play in streets. Santosh would’ve surely teased. He was after all a better player than me, only that he didn’t go to coaching. There is a similarity between both the Santosh’s. Even though they differ in size and structure one gets lot of confidence playing along them.

The authors other works could be found out in his blog – A medium through which he can be reached out as he’s quite active.

Posted in: Books, Fiction