After the Bouncer

It appears at first to be an innocuous-looking delivery
which acquaints itself with the width of the surface
grazing it lightly and rearing up without any shame
up to a height which possesses no respectability at all.

You’re stuck midway between going forward and back
in a state of mind airline pilots call ‘the point of no return.’
You hope fervently for it to die down and for this to be
a false alarm, but it comes on to you quicker than you expect.

It is over within moments – the darkness that engulfs you
and the collective ‘oohs’ that go across the field.
You fall onto the ground, lucky to have not disturbed the piece
of wood situated exactly behind you, but the world starts spinning.

You’re later told that the piece of leather smacks
right onto where your bone meets skin – a graft of godly
presence prevents you from being permanently blinded
as the temple above your right eye takes most of the blow.

You remember nothing from the time when you’d last seen it,
and now the same innocuous-looking delivery is nestled
softly within the hands of the square-leg umpire,
who asks after you, as do the rest of the ten people

You’re competing with; unlike the thrower of this particular
missile who’s comfortably leering at you from the halfway
mark, admiring his handicraft at having made one of the
best pullers in the city squirm from the venom he has produced.

It is hard to suspect that he is not satisfied with himself
although outwardly he may display an image of compassion;
it is harder still, to not feel sorry for yourself for this condition
that you find yourself in; No, this moment of self-pity must pass!

Some of your teammates laugh it out as the physio asks you
questions the answers of which you learnt in elementary school,
you’re glad that there’s no sign of the colour red in your flannels–
it won’t bode well for them to see that there’s been blood drawn.

You reassure yourself just as the physio asks if you’d be
able to carry on – an aspirin and an icepack change hands,
as does the steely look of timid courage and intrepidity
that is generated from your now-swollen temple and right eye.

You take guard again and shudder at seeing the red cherry
located safely inside the hands of the bowler at the top of his mark.
He rushes in at you in a buzz of otherworldy excitement,
tries to make the most of this moment of panic he has induced

as feelings of impotence fill your complete being.
You question your self-worth, you question your right
of being there – you question everything that is there to question
in the ten seconds it takes for him to reach the popping crease.

But this time, you’ve chosen to not listen to those voices
and with your front foot extended and head on top,
this particular innocuous-looking delivery is dispatched
through cover with the grace of a certain Indian number three.

The thrower of this imbecile pellet grunts in disgust
and gives a shriek of repugnance as a collective sigh
gathers momentum and spreads across the crowd.
You smile at him; he does the bare minimum to return it.

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 credit: Shekhar Shashwath/Pixabay