As I grew up, my childhood was hardly perfect. I used to love playing cricket. We would play cricket at lunch, after school and on Saturday afternoons. Cricket would fill up on Sundays. At home, any time, me, my big brother and our friends would get together at our home, or neighbour’s to play cricket.
While in 9th standard (or Grade!), we were playing the 9th C section. The sections were A, B, C, D. The best of English first language got into A section and then into B. The best of Kannada first language students got into C and then into D.
On one Sunday morning, we were playing at the grounds at the back of MES High school, where I did my High school. The field was big by Indian standards. Now, there were plenty of teams wanting to play matches. So whoever gets to the pitch first gets to keep for the match. While we were playing in one corner, at the far end, was another match going on. These were seasoned teams. Seasoned has a different meaning at that time. That is, there were all tough guys and they would play betting money. This was serious businesss at that time. If there was any problem in those matches, you could be sure that there would be a fight with all kinds of handy weapons.
One particular incident has always stuck into my mind. Half-way into our innings (after the opposite team had finished theirs), we saw a commotion breaking up at the other end of the field. Soon, we say a few motorbikes with 2-3 riders each stop on the road beside. The guys hopped off the bikes and cycles, starting wielding knives and sticks and belts. They jumped onto the field (over the metal grates) and starting attacking team members of that match. Apparently, one of the fielders had taken offense at a decision and argued and abused on of the opposing team member. The hurt member had taken off and the match had resumed. After a while we saw this member come back with his gang. We saw serious swinging of the weapons. We had no chance given we were are all studious students who never thought of hurting a fly i.e., we knew our best chance was to be safe. Soon the whole field emptied except for these gang members fighting it out.
We heard the police came by later and the fighting stopped. However, the image I saw was strong enought that it stays in my memory even 30 plus years later. Scary, when you think how lives are treated with such disregard.