“And the best player of the series is…….”

Maya was a thirteen year old girl who was often told she couldn’t do most of the things a normal teenager could do because she was a girl. A student of class VII, she had a flair for athletics, particularly for cricket. There were special coaching classes for cricket organised by her school after her school hours, but her mother would always shatter her wishes saying, ”Maya, no dear, you cant. You are not as strong as a boy to play a sport like cricket.” Maya would share her disappointment with her best friend, Rohini, who would only say “Maya you may have a passion for cricket, but your mom’s right, I guess. Girls are not strong enough to play a sport like cricket. It’s essentially a boy’s game.”

In due course, Maya accepted this fact, though deep inside her she felt she was capable of being a cricket player like Sachin, Virat, Dhoni, Mithali….. or was this just a wishful thinking?

Then came a day when a new girl joined her school. She was Veronica, a docile, small statured girl, moderate in her studies, but extremely good at sports! Needless to say, Veronica became a good friend of Maya. “Veronica I’ve always wanted to ask you about your success in sport. How come you’re good at it, in spite of being a girl?”

“Sorry, Maya, I’m unable to get you, dear.”

“How can you master sports though you are a girl?”

“Just as any boy can.”

“What? But aren’t girls weaker than boys physically? Can we play as well as they can?”

“Of course, we can! We are as strong as boys both physically and emotionally too. But tell me, Maya who gave you this false idea?”

“I’ve always been told this by my parents and by my best friend.”

“Hey, please don’t believe and accept what others tell you. Any girl can do what any other boy can do. What’s needed is determination, perseverance and hard work.”

“What about the periods? Isn’t that a big hurdle to girls?”

“That comes every month and if you can’t do what you wanna do then you’re just wasting your entire life!”

“But what if we get hurt?”

“Maya dear, every hurt is a reminder of our strength and every fall asks us to rise again!”

“Do you think I can do whatever a boy can?”

“There’s no thinking in this. I know you can and you will.”

“Veronica my interest lies in cricket. Can I, will I?”

“Maya please don’t allow others to influence your passion. Do what your heart says!”

“Thank you Veronica. I’m going to join the cricket coaching class in our school and prove to my parents and to the world that I, Maya, a girl, can do anything a boy can.”

Years rolled by…

“The best player of the series in this test cricket is ….Maya!!!!!!!”

“Maya, what are you dreaming, dear? You are the best player of the series! Go to the ground to get your trophy, and make us proud!”

Maya goes to the ground to get her trophy…, amidst cheers, whistles, applause, roars of laughter, Maya stretches her hand for the trophy, while the organiser hands her the mike too and asks her “Miss Maya, how do you feel being the best player of the test cricket series, and how, as a woman, you could achieve this in this ‘manly’ sport?”

“Determination, perseverance and hard work” says Maya thanking her friend Veronica in her mind’s eye…..any girl can do what any other boy can, says her mild inner voice!

By Pravallika Bhat

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