Monday, March 14, 2011

The Great World Cup Mystery

A series of mysterious events of the supernatural sort occur in the Indian dressing room after they win the World Cup. Could they possibly be related? Will these incidents make the members of the Indian cricket team start to believe in ghosts? Read and find out...

Harbhajan just stepped out of the shower, and into the dressing room and his eyes on their own accord went to the gleaming trophy that seemed to have been assigned a special place amongst all other trophies - a trophy that would in all probability make other trophies jealous, if trophies had such things as feelings. An audible sigh (of that particular variety that often preceeds 'you know back in those days', 'yaar, woh din bhi the' and other nostalgic variety of sentences) escaped his lips. Right behind him came Sehwag.

"I will never forget that day till my last breath, Veeru", he said and sighed some more. Sehwag also finished the customary casting of a loving glance on the same object and came beside Harbhajan now. "And why should you? These kind of things are what they call legends, Bhajji..", he said nonchalantly and the level of nonchalance was comparable with the nonchalance with which he usually bade farewell to those deliveries that were pitched just a little outside the off-stump, and which he sent hurrying on towards the boundary line.

"Legend - now that's a word made for describing him", said Bhajji, as the conversation invariably turned to that one man who turned that whole match. "Just imagine. Doing something impossible. And on the way to it, merely doing something really difficult. That was what I thought when Sachin scored his 50th ODI century and also won the World Cup. 100 international hundreds, mindblo..."

"Hundred and one", said someone presently.

Someone very likely in the dressing room, if Bhajji believed his ears were in fine working order.

"Oh yeah. 51 in tests and now 50 in ODIs. I forgot. It's hundred and one", responded Bhajji and looked around with the intent of including the source of the above mentioned statement into their conversation, but there was no one else around.

"Who was that?", he asked. And he intended Sehwag to answer, which no doubt you would have already guessed, since no one else seemed to be around.

Sehwag now did his bit of studying the room, in order to divine the nature and number its occupants, and he found that his observations now matched with that of Harbhajan's. So he replied, "Dunno.. Everyone in this dressing room is a Sachin fan. And everyone know his records by-heart. Could have been anyone passing by.."

"But there was no one else around when I went in. And no one else but ourselves are present in the room right now!!", replied Harbhajan. "Besides, that voice sounded unfamiliar", he added finally.

"Arrey, alright. Koi toh hoga. Let's go Bhajji.  A family man like me likes to spend more time with his wife and kids, you know, than worrying about hearing voices in dressing rooms", said Sehwag getting up grinning. "Family man, eh?", said Harbhajan mock punching him as they got up, and subsequently followed him out of the room.


Raina looked to be in a very good mood. Infact as he picked up his cricketing gear, he was found to be whistling away like a lark.  Just as he came in front of the beautiful trophy, he stopped and postively admired it, and you could see it was very special for him too (any other trophy he would have probably looked at only to check his reflection in - and I do not imply that he was narcisstic that way - but that is usually what boys of his age tend to do)

His phone rang. Quickly he looked around the room - the coach did not like players using phones in dressing rooms. This he had gleaned, perhaps due to the innumerable occasions during which the coach had expressed his displeasure on that particular subject. However now, seeing that the room was completely empty, he proceeded to answer the phone. It seemed to be a call from overseas.

"Hello", he chirped into the phone.

The person at the other end also must have emitted some form of greeting. And then added another sentence. "Oh! You got that HDSLR camera for bhaiyya? Excellent..", responded Raina. The person at the other end mumbled something."Ofcourse, man. I can wire it immediately. Just tell me the amount", said Raina now. A pause. "4190$ huh? What's the current conversion rate in Rupees?". Another pause. "45.06Rs per USD? So that's 4190x 45.06 ..."

"188801.40 Indian Rupees"

Raina dropped the phone in surprise. "Who's there?" he called out and looked around frantically. He thought he was alone in the room. And all visual evidence suggested that he still was. He shuddered, picked up his phone and hurried out of the room with his cricketing gear.


Yuvraj was livid. And he has quite a reason to be, for he should have been basking in the glory of being a part of the World cup winning Indian team. That day however a leading daily in India had carried out a report card of sorts, evaluating the contribution of each Indian player during the cup. It rather suggested that though Yuvraj did well with the bat and ball, his fielding, which in his earlier years could somewhat be labelled as magnificent, was now rather dismal. It went on to suggest further that this was a direct effect of a lot of weight Yuvraj had put on, in and around his mid-section.

"Ridiculous!", Yuvraj thundered throwing the copy of newspaper onto the floor. Munaf and Piyush looked up. "These media-wale, they think they can write anything. And get away with it. This is heights yaar!! The only reason I've not been my former self on the field is because of my knee problem. I'm not a 19 year old anymore. And my fielding - it's not dismal" He looked around as though daring the other two to challenge his views. Thankfully, they did not seem to take the dare on and remained silent.

"And what's this weight issue nonsense? Huh..", Yuvi continued. "That was one - one and a half years ago, when I was injured. But look at me now. Put on weight it seems. I've infact lost some. I'm now a healthy 82 kilos. From 97 kilos - in the course of my fitness regime I've lost - how much is that?", Yuvraj started to calculate.

"Fifteen kilos"

"Yeah. Fifteen kilos I've lost. That's no mean..", he paused and fixed Munaf with a shrewd look. "Your voice sounds a little girlish."

"No it does not, Yuvi. What makes you think so?", replied Munaf his tone apparently manly enough still.

"Do it again", said Yuvraj still not believing him. "I mean, say fifteen kilos again". Piyush looked from one to the other. "Hold on. You think Munaf here said fifteen kilos? He's been talking with me. We thought you said fifteen kilos", he said now with growing concern on his face.

"Arrey, come now.. There's no one else in this room but us three. Stop pulling my leg you guys", cried Yuvraj exasparatedly.

Harbhajan and Raina just entered the room. "What's the commotion guys?", Bhajji asked. And then seeing their faces added, "You guys look like you've seen a ghost or something. Am I that scary?"

In a few words Yuvraj laid out the happenings before them. Raina looked startled. "Even I heard a voice like that some days ago, in this same room", he said. Harbhajan started looking nervously around the room muttering "That voice did sound girlish. No wonder I couldn't place it. I've never heard of it before".

Finally after some moments of such muttering Harbhajan addressed everyone present.

"Guys. I think there's something going on here. And I haven't got a clue what it is. Perhaps we should consult someone higher. Someone who might know of all such things.."

"You mean...", started Yuvraj.

"Precisely", said Harbhajan. "Only one person I can think of who is immensely knowledgible on and off the field. And we must visit him now.."


Sachin's abode...

Though initially surprised to see them all together, Sachin invited them all inside warmly. Once they were all ensconed within his residence, he looked around at them all. Grim faces greeted him. This was an unusual look to be seen on some of those faces. So he inquired as to what the matter was. One by one, the elicitation of the events began.

When he heard the Sehwag-Harbhajan incident he just nodded. After Raina's narration he looked a little surprised. And when Yuvraj finished his story he muttered "Aila!" and leapt to his feet. One thing they all agreed on was that none of them had heard of that voice before. Yuvraj even suggested it might be a ghost of some long gone cricketer, who may have died in that dressing room.

Sachin just shook his head. "A math wiz of a cricketer with a girly voice who died in that dressing room? Fat chance, Yuvi", said Sehwag and then looked at Sachin who seemed to be biting his lip. "What's the matter Sachin?", asked Sehwag.

Sachin looked up. "I probably should have shared this knowledge with you guys earlier. Kapil paaji had told me of this long ago"

"What?", they all asked with a bated breath in unison.

"But I thought only the original could have such magical properties. I had no idea that even it's replica was endowed with such abilities", said Sachin.

Everyone exhanged anxious glances. Confused even.

Sachin explained, "That voice you hear, is not that of any ghost. It is coming from the cup. It has magical arithmetical properties. For it is the cup that counts!"

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