Saturday, February 24, 2018
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CENTURION: The father, the son and the spirit of cricket: AUTHOR: Pramesh Ratnakar; PUBLISHERS-Harper Collins, New Delhi:PAGES-150

The author has been a teacher all his life He taught at Deen Dayal Upadhyaya College, University of Delhi, for 20 years and now is the Head of Department of English at Shiv Nadar University. He has published books on Indian culture and religion but has always thought himself as a sportsman who strayed into academics. He has dedicated this unique novel to his teachers  who go out of their way to help their students and has acknowledged in a covering note to the Patrika his indebtedness to the late Father Rego, a legendary teacher of St Joseph’s College, Allahabad, who, he says, is ‘one of the teachers who has played a crucial role in the creation of this book’. We are sure all students of Father Rego would  especially be curious to know what is there in this fiction  that inspired the author to pen it.

Well, in this novel, the reader takes up the guise of Tendulkar and is assigned the task of overseeing the interview of a candidate for the post of Principal at the Siddhartha College, Mumbai, where Sachin’s father, Professor Ramesh Tendulkar taught.  Two of India’s brightest icons— Sachin and  Amitabh Bachchan—had fathers who were poets, scholars and teachers. The author discovers the linkages between academics, cricket and philosophy with the flair of the Master Blaster which adds spice to the work of fiction. In short, the novel seeks to bridge the gap between sports and academics and throws light on the excellent relationship involving father and son.

The author told the Patrika in an interview: ‘I have just focussed on those aspects of life which everybody knows about’, clarifying at the same time that ‘in the novel I am more interested in the idea of Sachin than Sachin himself.’ To another question, the author said: ‘I equate the game of cricket with life; and if Sachin as God of Cricket has understood the fundamental truths about cricket then maybe he could be thought of as someone who can come to terms  with the fundamental truths of life as well’

When pressed to tell us something about the book, he said: ‘Fundamentally the book is about the shadows that fall between the world of sports  and the world of academics. At a deeper level, the gap between the two is indicative of the gap that divides mind from the body, the internal from the external, the motive from the action, the conception from the creation. The book heroically wades in and seeks to bridge the gaps. Does it succeed?’ he asks and then says, ‘You’ll have to read it and find the answer’. Ramchandra Guha has  aptly said of this book: ‘A witty and original meditation on life, faith, fatherhood, India—not least—the game of cricket’.  Now go ahead and read it. You won’t like to give up till the last page ends!

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