My mom would start calling me at around 12 which ensured that by another half an hour I was in the bathroom trying to get the dirt out of my chappals and my feet. The heat, the dust, the window panes, the quarrels, the discarded bus tyre which doubled up as the wicket, the wodden plank which efficiently played the role of a wicketkeeper preventing balls from going behind and also taking catches (will explain that later!), the leg side rules, the lifelines; all formed a part of the weekend ritual that we called Cricket. The world didnt exist for us during those two hours or so. The cries of our mothers would drown out among the appeals and the calls for runs, vegetable gardens would be trampled at times for saving the crucial single and anarchy would rule as about six or seven of us assembled in the little space behind our quarters to play. Only a few shots were productive; the square cut which fetched you four runs if it hit the garage wall, the Sachinesque straight drive which fetched you a couple if it managed to cross over to our neighbour's vegetable garden, and the forward or backfoot defense which accompanied by good calling and running would earn you a single. The fielding positions and the fielders themsleves also demand some looking into. There was the cover point fielder to save the ferocious square cuts and the silly mid-off and the silly mid-on to save the singles. These were the human fielders. The others included a bunch of banana trees positioned strategically at short mid-on to stop the couple, the mango tree at point to save the boundary and most importantly, the wooden plank behind the tyre, hitting which directly amounted to an edge being taken!
Weekends in Bokaro, the place where I grew up, meant cricket, tabla classes and staying at home doing nothing. Sundays were typically spent helping my father clean up the car and the scooter and doing other small odd jobs to help my mom. Back then, the demands were few and satisfcation was easily acquired. There was no "life ke funde" to be pondered upon, no career changing exams to be taken. My parents never told me to study as I did reasonably well in school. I used to eagerly await these weekends. As I grew older, the charm of school also started to grow upon me. Weekends then meant not being able to meet all your pals and more importantly, not being able to talk to the girls. The tabla classes finally made way for study hours at home and then tuitions. The cricket became more civilised and less intense. The career changing exams slowly began to enter my unhurried existence.
I remember my final days in school when our entire gang would get to school during weekends to gossip and play cricket and do a whole lot of insane activities. It was one of the best times ever. As we neared the end of a phase of our lives we came closer to each other. New friends were made and old ones made dearer. There were get togethers in each others houses and farewell parties and what not. It's too much to put as a side topic in this post. Some other day maybe ....
Then college happened. The weekends started to take a whole new meaning and purpose in my life. Wash clothes, go out to eat, catch a movie, meet some friends, visit local guardians to have some good food, get some sleep for the coming week, prepare for hostel events. Virtually everything imaginable had to be crammed in those two days. Assignments were made (if at all!) during weekends, continuously cursing the TA and the Professor responsible.
As the years rolled by and bunking classes became more a habit than an exception, weekends gradually started loosing their uniqueness. Everyday was almost the same and was often identified by the food that we got in the mess which was at its worst during the weekends. Still the feeling that it was an official holiday provided some solace to my conscience.
Now in Bangalore, these weekends have again started to define themselves in a new way. Lazing around in the house, reading books, exploring new places to eat out, having a few friends over. The occasional booze and the bike trip, the very frequent "let's do something this weekend..." discussion. Mostly its just relaxing and doing nothing but sometimes its planning and working for your next step in life.
Somethings almost never change. The amazing feel of a Friday night and the agony of a Monday morning. Getting up late on a Saturday afternoon which almost becomes a defining principle of life. Somethings though, like the backyard cricket match, now seem to belong to a different age.