“STAYING AT THE WICKET”

I roughly remember the pitch report …

Stumps Pitch Wicket Bails Cricket Sport
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“Hard and dry; could become dusty on occasion, has a tendency to spin unexpectedly, and given the changing weather and a bit of cloud cover could make the wicket bounce. Looks like a batsman’s paradise where runs would flow, but scoring could be restricted at times if the opposition closes the corridors and tightens the field with close catches. The ground has a history of making games interesting by keeping batsman on their toes. With a sharp mind, strong will, a light-hearted approach to each delivery and with good sportsmanship a batsman is assured of a long stay at the wicket.”

Before I could digest all of that, I was called to buckle up and take guard at the wicket. The Umpire looked strict, with a strong eye that would not blink even between overs, he smiled but I was not sure if he was being kind or sly in his manner.

I looked down the pitch, remembered the pitch report, yes, this is exactly what was said. I was excited and eager to get on with the game; to see what the opposing team, known by the name of “Destiny” was going to throw at me. I didn’t feel afraid at all; I had the best coach watching over me from the pavilion called “Heaven” and he had chosen the very best team known as “Angels” to support me. They had many talents and so much love, I knew I was surrounded by them and they were always close that I never felt weak or afraid at anytime.

This was the game, and the trophy at stake was LIFE!

My job was to preserve my wicket for the longest period, score many many runs, and if in the unavoidable circumstance…… I get hit by the odd ball and fall, I should take my time to get back up, face the next ball with confidence and continue batting for victory of my team.

I adjusted my head gear, looked at my crisp pure White suit, looked up at the glorious sky that was blue with a few white clouds on the horizon, the sun was warm not too hot, a gentle breeze was flowing across the grounds, the stands were full of spectators and they were chanting in one voice “Stay Strong you can do It”!!

I looked down the ground and there stood “Destinies” bowler dressed in Midnight Black. He was ever ready to run in and bowl the best ball he could and keep doing it until I lost my concentration, courage or just gave up so he could claim his victory for “Destiny” and run away with the cup of LIFE!

I took a deep breath, checked my guard and faced the first ball and with that started my stay at the wicket…….

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photo by rawpixel.com from pixels

After a while, I looked up and noticed the sun was overhead and knew it was close to noon, the bowler ran in and bowled, it was a medium pacer, by now I could see the ball well, the ball looked like a red cherry which had been polished over and over again and I could see it leave the bowlers hand, hit the pitch and Wizz pass me as it was way out of my playing corridor. The wicket keeper collected the ball and returned it to the bowler who was by now at the top of his run up for the next delivery. I looked around at the fielders, they looked sharp and ready to pounce on any lose chance I may provide. The umpire looked cool but unemotional, stone faced and stood tall. The bowler started his run-up and reached the bowling crease and delivered a fast paced delivery, it was straight heading to my toes, my eyes light up, my muscles strengthened and I played the best shot I had practiced, it flew passed the close up fielder and speed along the field towards the longest boundary, Destinies fielders were chasing behind trying to cut it off from reaching the boundary and cutting short the score I was approaching……..

The ball picked up speed and crossed the rope, the stone faced Umpire brought out the best smile I had seen from an unemotional face, he signalled that a boundary had been secured, the score board lit up with the best colours and the spectators were in a standing ovation cheering “Congratulations”, I lifted my head and looked at the pavilion and their in great joy and love was my team of Angels and above them my coach smiling with blessings that only heaven could provide.

I had preserved my wicket, stood my ground and not got out while scoring a Half-Century. Never knew that making it to 50 would be such a great achievement and joy.

Never, never, would I have made it this far if it was not for the support of the wonderful Angels who make up the team I have been given. The assistant coaches that have been a part of my journey from my younger years to this moment were many and wonderful; they have guided, protected, cared, healed, supported and more than anything loved me with no limit.  Many of them I do fondly remember and there are many more wingless angles whose shadow has shaded me.

So now, I have made it to that elusive half century……..the pitch report was so correct…..there were moments when the dry and hard pitch made the ball named “time” come at me fast and furious and there were moments when I had to stay patiently until the delivery took its time to reach me. Each over was different, some would look just so innocent, but when it hit the ground and spun viciously it made life’s moments difficult to read and confusing. Some overs were mild and medium paced making life feel relaxed and easy going. But then suddenly, there would be a change in the weather and with dark clouds covering the grounds the ball would swing and bounce and make life very difficult, some did hit me and make me fall to the ground. But each time I fell, my team of Angels would rush to the field and heal my wounds and support me back to my feet; and then when I could stand on my own they would cheer me on and I would face the next ball with confidence again.

My suit is now not crisp white as I arrived, it’s dusty, muddy, and with a few blood stains from the times I fell; sweat and toil at the wicket has made me look a bit aged, not the younger self that I would have loved for all to see.

Now, it’s up to me to continue, to guard my wicket for many more years and achieve much more, while helping my Angels achieve their goals and stay safe while they play their own game too.

I hope to add some light-hearted humour to the next session, so at least the umpire would smile more often, the spectators would be amused, and the weather would feel warm and not too harsh throughout the afternoon years.

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Photo by Aksh yadav on Unsplash

I continue to pray my coach sitting in Heaven, will teach me the technics of strength, give me the wisdom of age and the courage of maturity, to achieve as much as possible, while keeping Destiny at bay until the end of my days play.

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Photo by raxpixel.com

Simple Pleasures of an Evening

lemon-puff-ginger-tea

 

When shadows are long and the day is beginning to fold

When the sun is being called to shine on another shore

When summer has left and winter is knocking at the door

Warm sip of ginger and a bit of lemon; brings a smile even when you are far away from home…..

 

Memories of years gone by, like breezes that have brushed my skin

Memories of laughing faces and happy moments enjoying the same lemon I taste…

Memories of younger days and familiar places that have now long been changed,

Maturity and development so they claim, but now it all feels too strange and bitter than the ginger I taste……

 

Sun and Rain, both have played their roles in our days

Shifting like clouds, sorrow and happiness have freely moved in and out….

Struggles we faced, like pilgrims who came and went

Smiling or frowning, like Lemon and Ginger have found their place…….

 

Ginger and lemon, for now, by my side

Greatly I shall enjoy them till time abide….

Gentlemanly , silently I may sigh

Gallantly, remembering lemon and ginger, I will face fate & time, smiling until the day I  die…..

 

Johann Schokman – November 2016

(Thoughts that visited me while I enjoyed a strong Ginger tea and some lovely Lemon puff)

Weekly Photo Challange – On the Move

One of Sri Lanka’s busy railway routes is the South bound service that links the capital Colombo with the Southern cities mainly Galle & Matara. This journey could take from 3 to 6 hours from one end to the other, depending if it’s the Inter-City train or the slower train.

This route run’s mostly parallel to the ocean and the views you get are just stunning. In the morning, you will see a calm sea that’s just so inviting. If you are traveling from down South to Colombo, you could see the fishing nets being pulled in and the days catch on the beach. The occasional jogger or those who take a morning walk might just stop in their footsteps and wave at the passing train or just keep looking on in fascination. In the evening, its nothing but the sunset with all its glory & colour that will enchant you as you go home after a long day at the office.

Sunsets as glorious as it ever could be at Mt. Lavinia

Sunsets as glorious as it ever could be at Mt. Lavinia

 

It’s one of those train journey’s I always enjoyed taking when I used to travel to office by train in the late 80’s. The breeze from the ocean always cools you while you travel, even when the train is full with everyone going to work or going home after a busy day, it’s still a lot of fun as you are so close to the beach and the smell of sea spray hits your face.

It’s a good route to take as a  lazy ride on a weekend or if you want to go down South with family or friends to have some fun on a slow train.

Unfortunately, due to its close proximity to the ocean, when the tsunami struck in 2004, it took the life of many of those who were on the trains at the time. The tracks took a while to be reconstructed and the service was resumed with warning systems placed for immediate action if a tsunami may strike again.

I am no expert on trains and always enjoyed riding and watching them go by, like these that passed while the sun was setting at Mount Lavinia recently;

Class S11 Passing Mount Lavinia

Class S11 doing the after office run towards Colombo.

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Riding the foot board – enjoying the view of the setting sun.

Class S11

S11’s coupled together, the long train.

Class M4 753

An old Class M4 – Coughing a cloud of smoke, but Still in service.

 

 

Dengue – The Killer we Escaped!

April was a funny month. Much was expected, but not as much as the unexpected that we got.

Dee and I flew back to home soil at the end of March for my usual hospital visit and a much delayed visit from our beloved friend Reen (Van Reen, we like to call her that due to her artistic side) from the land of the Union Jack and Fish & Chips. We were excited as the visit had been planned a few times but had to be put off due to unexpected events that took place either for us or Reen. Anyway, this time round she was visiting Sri Lanka and had already gone nuts about the Elephants long before she even knew when she would arrive.

After we arrived during the last days of March and got a few matters attended too at home, our good friend Van Reen arrived at the crack of the month of April and we were all set to cruse around, to as many places as possible so that she would get a real feel of the Island. Since this was her first visit to Asia, and as far as she had traveled from the Union Jack, we were a bit anxious if she would feel comfortable with the heat and humidity of April as it was still the dry season and the starting of the rainy season. The heat was around 33C but humidity was over 90% and Dee and I were feeling it very badly, how would Reen cope with this we wondered!!

Anyway, she was ok with the climate and it actually cooled off a bit after she arrived. She enjoyed her holiday, and as promised, the first run was to the Elephant orphanage at Pinnawela where she had the time of her life. She fed a baby elephant his afternoon meal of milk and a big girl who was pregnant a meal of fruits. She also got a chance to take a few shots with the mighty guys and see them splash around in a mostly dried up river due to the ongoing drought. I think she enjoyed her day and wants to come back to feed them again.

Cooling off in a almost dried up river

Cooling off in an almost dried up river

The pack at Play-"Let's go Camping"

The pack at Play-“Let’s go Camping”

We also drove up to Kandy (the last Kingdom of Sri Lanka), Nuwara Eliya to see the hill country and the lovely tea estates, and took her to the Indian Ocean and the lovely beach at Mount Lavinia for a wonderful evening and a glorious sunset. A drive down to Unawatuna and Galle was nice but that was where all the unexpected started to happen.

Kandy Temple - The most sacred

Kandy Temple – The most sacred place

Refreshing to the eyes,wonderful Tea.

Refreshing to the eyes,wonderful Tea.

Misty hills with Tea as far as you can see.

Misty hills with Tea as far as you can see.

Sunsets as glorious as it ever could be at Mt. Lavinia

Sunsets as glorious as it ever could be at Mount Lavinia beach.

 

Yes, that’s right, the unexpected and the never expected did happen to Dee and then to me. On the way back from Galle, Dee mentioned that she was not feeling too well and that she felt body pains. We thought that it was due to the running about we had been doing and that she was feeling too tired.

But that’s not what happened; once we returned home……..Dee came down with high fever 104F and was shivering like a leaf in a high storm. I gave her some medications and thought all will be ok by morning. But things became worse the fever never went down and she was quite restless during the night. As soon as it was morning and the neighborhood doctor was available we went to him and he gave her some immediate medication to bring down the fever and was a bit suspicious that it might be Dengue the dreaded fever that the mosquitoes bring that could be fatal if not treated under medical supervision. She had a blood test and within an hour he confirmed that it was Dengue Fever and requested that she be admitted to a hospital as soon as possible.

Dee was rushed to the hospital and admitted. She was placed under doctors supervision and given Paracetamol which is the only medication used to treat the fever. There is no medication given directly to fight the Dengue virus, but re-hydration is given in the form of saline and a mild antibiotic with paracetamol to keep the fever down.  According to the type of Dengue virus the symptoms are different and could be mild or life threatening.The blood platelets keep dropping and is monitored closely during the course of the peak period which is between 5 to 10 days. Body pains and rashes with high fever is very common.

Dee was having very bad body pains and a splitting headache. She was infected badly and was not able to eat anything as she was throwing up. Reen had to leave in the middle of all this drama as she had already booked her flight. She was very worried and we were also worried if she too had been bitten by the bloody mosquitoes .

After Dee had been in the hospital for about 24Hrs, I too was having fever and it was very, very high. On checking it was found to be 104F and I was rushed to the hospital and admitted. We were both down with the same stupid Dengue fever and sitting like sick ducks in hospital, The fever was really bad and I had a sudden black out and was transferred to the ICU for further observation. The observation ended 8 days later just two days after Dee was released from the hospital.

April was one of the worst months that we have ever gone through. We are still trying to get back on our feet as the blood platelets went down to 7 & 10 for Dee. The Doctors say it takes about 4 weeks to fully recover, but we feel its going to take a bit longer as we are still feeling really hammered.My hands still have signs of internal bleeding and the joint pains are still continuing.

Internal bleeding

Internal bleeding

Dengu

Purple from internal bleeding & rash

Thank God April has passed and May has come and silently taken me pass 45 in human years. I still feel 18……only if this stupid mosquito didn’t have us for dinner!

We are now on a mission to strike down any mosquito that is sighted…….cannot understand why a menace that is no use to any human or animal is not destroyed and cleaned off the face of earth once and for all.

Please keep your environment clean and don’t let this nasty mosquito take your life away. Please help destroy Dengue Fever for ever.

Fight Dengue