This poem is written in the memory of my cricket coach, the late Anil Mittal. A fast bowler in his prime who represented Hyderabad in age-group cricket, he was responsible for producing around 30 first-class cricketers and two Test cricketers (VVS Laxman and Hanuma Vihari.) However, what he taught went far beyond just the intricacies of the game. He was my godfather, guru, friend and mentor whose teachings still help and guide me in living a life full of integrity, morality and dignity. He had a distinguished career in coaching from 1987 up till the time he passed away in September 2020. He was 61.
Holding my hand when the darkness came,
Calming me down when the hurricanes lashed,
You remained steadfast in every frame,
No matter how often my ideals crashed.
What was it that I did not learn from you?
Your name is synonymous with sweat and toil.
No matter how many I got or how few,
Your story is engraved deep into Hyderabad’s soil.
There were heroes few in those days in the sun,
You topped the list with some flair.
Taking off with me in every race I’ve run,
I’ve felt your presence in every prayer.
The summer of 2012 will remain with me,
And I hope that it does so with you too.
Taking the glare off things when I was at sea,
Embracing me tightly when I had no clue.
The void you’ve left behind can never be filled,
Your voice never to be heard again in this life.
I am what I am because of what you helped build,
Seeking the hard way out of this enduring strife.
Unfortunately, I find myself at a loss for words,
Sir, I never thought that this day would come.
Living on the edge perennially in the two-thirds,
I’m the only one left dancing to the beat of your drum.
It felt like I could fly when I was standing by your side,
If I could be even half the man that you are in my eyes,
If I could face the darkest days and fight the tears inside,
The love we shared was eternal, how can I just say goodbye?
Your head was held high from the day of your birth,
Above immoral men whom you outran.
That even the Gods had to descend onto this Earth
to claim you as theirs and say, “Yes, this was a man!”
A second father to me – I can’t believe you’re gone,
Though I do not want to live in a world without you.
I wake up with the hope of seeing you again at dawn,
Alas! There are very few men around like you.
Mohul Bhowmick is a national-level cricketer and passionate writer. He is also pursuing an MBA from Osmania University and has published three books of poetry.
Featured image provided by author (Illustration: LiveWire)