Bullying?a fear in the minds of feeble
“Being an eight year old kid was an easy task. No job pressure, no financial crises. Family always there to bail out, playing with other kids was the only job. Those days were for Cricket and summer vacations the best part of a student life” – said my colleague looking at a small kid playing gully cricket with his friends. I nodded in affirmative and echoed a similar thinking. But some nostalgic thoughts knew it was otherwise.
As I rested on my bed that night post dinner my old memories played a peep show. It was a monstrous dreaded summer vacation every year for me and I know I was one of the rare kids who would have defined the exclusive break from monotonous school life with such adjective.
On the eve of vacation my night would be spent taking endless turnings and twisting on my extra cushioned bed. Cold breeze out of the open windows could do no good to my profusely sweating underarms. It was not heat but fear which gripped me. Heart beat which could have matched thousand gallops on the wooden turf. Open eyed nightmare never ended but continued till the golden dust reached my room riding on the chariot of dawn next day. Tweeting birds would be an unbearable noise for my ears. I used to close my eyes praying day to turn to a night. My heart knew even taking long hours for the daily ablutions were diminutive measures to help me out. My heart used to feel small ray of hope whenever I peeped out of my small window to find no one in vicinity but it vanished when voices of my two friends calling me outside to play cricket used to catch my father attention. Serious coaxing from my father who thinks physical exercise is also a vital part in student life made me drag myself out of my house unwillingly. My two friends used to put their arms across my shoulder and greet me back after months. Their smile used to show how much they missed my company especially when I was avoiding them for months on the pretext of heavy school homework and regular tests.
I can still see memories of what used to happen there so precise and unaffected by the wear and tear of distance I travelled in years. With a well lit face they used to take me far away from the appreciating eyes of my father, fascinated to see the love of kids for his son, to the playground far away from home. As soon as we reached the playground one of the casual friendly arms across my shoulders transformed to the choking noose forcing every gush of wind out of my lungs. The other so called friend of mine was sympathetic enough to not to punish my neck any further and took his hands off my shoulder and limited himself with regular kicks on my butt from behind. Other kids surrounding us loved this regular show of local version of barbaric Roman wrestling. Their laughter and claps motivated my friends to throw me down on the ground with full force a move they copied from WWF show. Their eyes with great pride used to examine their prey curled up and moaning on the earth. Sight of my battered body, soiled clothes, cuts and bruises around knees, eyes full of tears and a twisted face out of excruciating pain by a kick on the abdomen was a matter of great pride to showcase their strength. What more they could have asked for – a timid boy too afraid to fight back was a perfect punching bag. My friends still giggling used to come forward and help me to gather my pieces and stand. While beating me again with open fists they pretend to rub off the mud on my disfigured brand new clothes and cajole me to play cricket. My continued unenthusiastic reply changes to affirmative one when I see one of them picking up cricket bat to hit me in disgust. The rules of the games were too simple to forget though. I was not allowed to bat as I had no cricket bat of my own.
Only two players played the game at a time. One of two friends camouflaged the likes of Tendulkar and Lara were the batsman and the talented me was the bowler, fielder and the wicketkeeper – all in one package an all rounder.
With every bowl I bowled I was made to run at every corner of the playground to fetch the bowl myself. Even the bowl lying next to the foot of batsmen was one of my drafted duties to pick back. Kids around joined the circus by throwing the bowl outside the playground timely and my denial to get it back meant a tight slap on my face. Ducking down to avoid any one of them to not let my dad see my bruised face later resulted in sadistic blows on my back and foul words. Game carried on till my friends left the playground after getting exhausted watching their almost lifeless dog’s inability to play this innovative game any longer.
A lot of courageous effort took out of timid me to stand on my still shaky knees.
Hand pump just around the corner of the playground was kind enough to offer life saving cold water to drink although I took extra privilege to wash myself back to a sane look. With a plastic smile planted on my face I used to walk back to my home and every kid around used to give me a cocky smile in return ridiculing my coyness. This was my mundane routine till the day I found myself on my bed gripped by severe fever out of dehydration and burnout. I loved it; it was a blessing in disguise for me which dodged me through the nightmare till next vacations. No wonder I was the only kid I knew who hated vacations and cricket.