September 5, 2010 by JalabulaJugs
Since that fateful week the 2 villages were waiting at any slight opportunity to put down the other. That moment arrived one fine morning. On the aforementioned fine morning, the drummer of Hosabettu stood at the Bettu Border and beat his instrument loudly while announcing, “This is to inform the people of the village which shamelessly shares one half of our village’s name that, after extensive research which was in no way connected to the imminent finding, it has been found out that Rahul Dravid, Karnataka’s proud cricketing son, is a close relative of our very own Village opening batsman, Shetty. By close relative, we mean that they are related to each other by the fact that they are related. According to this theory of relativity, they are related. How they are, no one knows but that they are everyone does. How? Well, I am announcing it right now. If you ask Dravid Saab, though, he might deny it but that is only because he was a commerce student and is not familiar with the theory of relativity. It is also proudly announced that Dravid Saab will be present during an exhibition match in the Hosabettu graveyard which also doubles up as a cricket ground. All are invited, but of course only Hosabettu residents will be allowed entry.”
Now, there were many issues which brought about hatred between the Bettu villages; which village was the first to see the sun, which village had the cooler sounding name, which headman ran off first etc. but the chief-in-wreck was the game of cricket. Every year Chokkabettu and Hosabettu squared off in a fiercely contested match. In fact, the matches would get so fiercely contested that after the initial formalities of using the primary instruments of cricket-the Bat and the Ball, the team members switched to a more comfortable mode-brawl. The only saving grace during these matches was the fact that the cricket ground would, on this occasion, double up as a graveyard. So, it was fair enough to say that cricket coursed through the blood of each and every village inmate; and very often, that coursing had a spill out effect.
Thus the recently concluded announcement was met with agitated murmurs in ‘that shameless half-name sharing village’. These murmurs eventually transformed into a babbling chaos. In other words, a Village Panchayat.
The gathering was set under the Peepul tree (the village lacked the traditional Banyan tree in spite of unofficial warnings from the government asking the village in a strict, albeit, offhand manner to always have Panchayat meets under a Banyan tree). As per practice, every Chokkabettu inmate was there rubbing his hands with, among other things such as pan gutkha and grease, glee. As everyone waited for the Village headman to begin proceedings, the headmaster of the village school, with his experience and intelligence, realized that the village headman would not be able to begin proceedings as he was far away nursing his hopes of a government job. He decided to begin proceedings himself.
“This recent news from the other side is indeed a grim one for us. We need to take immediate action that will effect a perfect retaliation”, he stated with an important air. “Any suggestions?”
For a few minutes no one spoke. Then out of nowhere, but from somewhere in the crowd, there came a shout
“What about this?”
All the inmates trained their eyes towards the source of these optimistic words, which turned out to be a youth.
“What?” a chorus rang out towards him.
“No. that won’t do”, came the reply after a moment of pondering. This was met with a collective sigh and more silence before once again
“What about this?”
“No. that won’t do either.”
Now, this youth began to seriously take matters into his mind. He realized that he had been the only person thus far to even attempt to provide valuable ideas in the face of such impending crisis. So he began to rack his brain even more in order to eke out a few more of his brainwaves to the patient gathering. At last he struck gold!
“What about this?” he exclaimed with feverish excitement.
“No. that won’t do”, came back the chorus reply registering a look of shock on his face. Instantly, he remembered the story of the boy who cried ‘wolf’. Had he been a dog, he’d have probably called ‘woof’ but seeing that he was not one, at least not on this clear night (on a full moon night, he rather fancied himself to be a werewolf, which of course was no more than a fancy). Now that he knew that he was not a dog, or a werewolf, or anything else for that matter, he decided to stand firm.
“No, no. Hear me out”, he pleaded, realizing that the people were indeed catching up quickly.
“Why don’t we challenge them for a match on that very day? We shall show Dravid saab as to what sort of cricketing skills run through the veins of every Chokkabettu player”, he finished with a gleam in his eyes.
The stunned silence that greeted this suggestion bore testimony to the fact that it was a stroke of genius rare among Chokkabettu residents. Indeed, a few of the village elders who knew of the youth’s and in general, the majority of the village’s (not discounting their own) bone-headedness, almost looked hither and tither pretending they did not hear anything.
‘So? What about it?’ asked the youth again.
Now that they were convinced of the reality of the idea, the people of Chokkabettu got around to appreciating its ingenuity. The idea’s brilliance lay in the surety of its success. The chance of Hosabettu shirking a cricket match challenge was as bleak as that of the match eventually producing a result. In short, the match was on…at least its start, if not its finish…