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One day, years back, the bored Second Born, with no one to practice with, decided to rope me in to ‘catch‘ when he threw the ball.

We were at the time spending the three week break from school in March with the L&M. He was posted in a remote place and lived the life of a forced bachelor and was glad to have us visit him. The First Born’s semesters and holidays in college did not align with the younger one’s. So he stayed back to take care of the house, dog and of course attend his engineering classes.

The days were long and lazy. The food came from the mess three times a day. Other than washing a few clothes and tidying up the rooms, I didn’t have much to do. There was no television. So it was just listening to music and reading. It was fine by me. But imagine the plight of a eleven year old in such a situation.

One way the Second Born kept himself occupied was throwing the ball on the wall in the enclosed courtyard and catching it. At other times he read. And sometimes we painted together. That was about it. One day he asked me to ‘catch’ while he threw the ball. I agreed reluctantly. I hadn’t caught a ball as far as back as I could remember though I used to be nifty with a ring and used to play tenniquoits (or ring tennis) with friends in school for fun.

The Second Born threw the first ball. I swiftly brought both my hands together from either side and tried to catch it. Tried. I couldn’t. I had dropped it. The son tsk tsk-ed. Amma, he chided, that’s not how you catch a ball. He enlightened me further that my technique was called a crocodile-catch and that it inevitably led to dropping of the ball.

Fancy that. All I knew had been that crocodiles are large semi-aquatic reptiles. And that they looked like giant lizards which fact permanently put them in the must-avoid-at-all-costs list of mine. Little did I know that they had cricket-catch named after them. ‘Why? Had the crocodile dropped a catch?’ I asked the son and doubled up at my own silly joke. He wasn’t amused. Instead he declared, I am going to teach you to catch, Amma.

That is how my practice sessions started in earnest. After breakfast, he would spend time throwing the ball and I had to practice catching it deftly with my palms hands together. Then there were the times the son would throw the ball at me unexpectedly. To test me, he said. Mostly I slipped up and went back to crocodile mode, but slowly I got better at it. That’s how I became someone he could use to practice his skill of throwing for the few days of our holidays.

Years later in high school, he was in both the basket ball and cricket teams. I think I can safely say I contributed a wee mite to his reaching the latter. BUT, if anyone throws anything at me in the present expecting me to catch it, I yell, ‘No, no, please don’t throw it, just give it to me!’ while frantically trying to bring my hands together to catch it in, hold your breath or don’t because it is not a big deal, ….a crocodile catch, inevitably dropping it. The L&M guffaws at my antics, while the Second Born tsks, ‘I taught you not to do that, Amma!’ What can I say, I have not been practicing, or may be I can blame my astigmatism for the dropped catches. 😉

© Shail Mohan 2020