Everybody waited with bated breath, young and old, as the endless replays of the previous wicket started. Even the infants realised something momentous was occurring and they quietened themselves to a occasional whimper. Just as the fourth replay started, the TV went blank.
Chaos reigned in the tiny house. Fathers ran about trying to get the generator to work, while brothers flung open the front door and reported that the entire area had cruelly lost electricity.
"Thatha, did you forget to charge this generator?" yelled one of the fathers.
At 95 years of age, Sundaram was Thatha (grandfather) to everyone, even his neighbours. Confused by the sudden recent activity, he looked around. His grand-daughter - Ramesh's mother - was still holding his hand. The air felt heavy with unvoiced accusations and bitter sentiments. A clamour began to build around him.
"Let's go quickly to the neighbour's house and watch it there."
"But how will we take Thatha?"
"I'll carry him."
"What? Don't be silly."
"You come up with a better idea, then."
Sundaram Thatha closed his eyes and a tear squeezed out. His desire had been to see Ramesh's first steps on the cricket field as an Indian cricketer, sitting in his house and surrounded by his family. And now, through his own negligence, he would miss those first steps of history, and so would his family.
A sudden hush in the room made him look up. A laptop on the centre table glowed ominously, playing commercials. Beside the laptop stood Karthik, his precocious 15-year old great-grandson.
"What is this?" somebody asked.
"The match, live," replied Karthik.
"3G from Tata Docomo," said Karthik. Seeing the confused faces around him, he simplified, "Super-fast internet."
Suddenly, the laptop screen filled with Ramesh's face, looking extremely serious behind the grill of a blue Indian helmet. A cheer went up in the living room.
"Ramesh Vaidyanathan," announced the commentator, "walks out onto the field for the first time as an Indian cricketer. A huge moment for this very talented youngster, and a very proud moment, I can imagine, for his family watching back home."
Sundaram Thatha squeezed his grand-daughter's hand and wiped away a different kind of tear.