I grew up playing cricket on the street. After asr (late afternoon) prayers, I was usually the first one to put wicket in the center of the street, mark creases with a chalk, and put a stone as the bowling mark. I also used to put new tape on balls and did some other management stuff…
(Photo to the right is of a street cricket player from Chitral, Pakistan.)
…Slowly other boys from the neighbor hood would come out and numbering was done to decide who would bat first. In those early minutes of set up, a boy from the neighborhood helped me a lot. He was employed in one of the homes and used to get a permanently bald cut from the local barber. So people started calling him ‘ganja’. Some with lesser formal education used to call him ‘takloo’ (it means a bald person in local Karachi slang)
After a Hajj season our cricket team suddenly got some Haji players who had recently became ‘ganja’ (bald) after performing the holy ritual.
This caused a big confusion in our local team on how to distinguish between so many bald players while using some kind of slang language. In those days of early youth, using proper literary language was considered so out of fashion……
……After many days of deliberation we called a ‘shoora’ (cabinet) meeting of neighborhood boys and in that meeting it was unanimously decided to name the original
ganja guy as ‘Tikanjoo’.
The logic behind this nomenclature was:
Ganja + Takloo = Tikanjoo
(Photo to the left is from Quetta, Pakistan and it shows ingenuity of players who have built the cricket wicket by stacking up stones.)
Tikanjoo had great passion for cricket. He would come out on the street earlier than me. Sometimes I saw him waiting for me to put wickets on the street so that he can get a break from his employers and come out to play. I would then send him to all the homes in neighborhood to ring call bells and ask the ‘V.I.P cricketers’ to come out.
Tikanjoo bowled really fast jerk balls. Just like Shoaib Akhtar he would run 32 steps and then throw cricket ball like a stone with out circling his arm over. To get a better picture, imagine Shoaib Akhter bowling in a fluttering 9 feet long ‘shalwar qameez’ and wearing Bata’s ‘hawaai chappal’ (flat open slip-ons). ….
(I took this photograph in June 2005. Temperature at that time was 45 degree centigrade and I am not kidding. It shows the passion of cricket in Islamabad, Pakistan. These players are using a trash can as the wicket.)
…Poet Zameer Jaffri once said a ‘sher’ about the West Indian fast bowler Wes Hall which perfectly fits the way Tikanjoo used to bowl in our steet. It goes like this:
shor uTha ke Hall aatat hai, khel ka intaqaal aata hai
Hall se pehlay ball aati hai, ball se pehlay Hall aata hai
If any batsman didn’t get out with technically correct bowling then we used to bring Tikanjoo to throw few balls. Due to incorrect bowling action of Tikanjoo, batsmen would usually complain that this act was an ‘ochaa hath-kanDaa’ (cheap stunt) on part of fielding side but to no avail. After ‘Tikanjoo’ was unleashed then more often than not, he would get the wicket of well set batsman.
(Photo to the right is from Quetta, Pakistan. It shows multiple cricket games going on at the same street.)
…. If someone got out in such manner, we used to request Tikanjoo to be a useful member of the team and prove his loyalty by bringing back the ball. He would then climb walls, climb window shades, reach roofs in no time and retrieve the ball for us.
Then one day Tikanjoo found work in another neighborhood and left our locality. He was talked about for few days and then everyone forgot about him. We grew up into our current roles of life. Nobody knows what happened to Tikanjoo after few months. Reminds me of this sher:
mohallay waalay na-haq khafa ho gayay warna
woh to ek andaaz tha os kay pyar karne ka
I hope wherever is Tikanjoo, he is fine and enjoying the cricket as much as he did in our childhood. At this moment I don’t even recall his real name but I just thought about him and it brought smile to me and thus I wanted to share above lines with you. Long live cricket and long live Pakistan.
Before ending this post, I also want to share a ‘sher’ which my friend Amjad Hussain first told me:
jab cricket khela kartay the, osay wicket banaaya kartay the
hum jis se pani peetay the, woh maTka aakhir TooT gaya