It’s 8:00 pm on Sunday and nearly 700 villagers have gathered around a semi-pucca, two-room house where Kamran Khan — the 18-year-old Rajasthan Royals speedster who has taken the Indian Premier League by storm with his bowling — lives with his family.
Burqa-clad women shuffle around inside a small room before finally settling down uneasily, while outside, hundreds of men-folk jostle to get the best possible view of another TV set placed outside.
Shouts of ‘Kamran zindabad, Mau ki shaan zindabad’ fill the atmosphere and ‘young drummers’ start beating their crude contraptions the moment they see Kamran on the field.
“This happens every time someone from the village does something of note,” says the grand old lady of the village, Maqsood, who stays next to Kamran’s house.
Kamran’s brother Shamshad bursts into tears the moment villagers go to congratulate him. He has specially decorated the courtyard of his house with the 200-odd trophies his brother has won in his fledgling cricketing career.
“This is what Kamran has given to our family. We cherish it more than money and every thing else,” says Shamshad, who has spent Rs 180 to buy five litres of diesel for the generator, which will ‘fuel’ the passion of the villagers for the next three hours.
Five TV sets have been put up at different places in the village with a population of 5000. “Not many households here have cable or digital connections, so we decided to pool in our resources and install TV sets at various points in the village,” says another of Kamran’s brothers, Imran.
“Kamran hamari shaan hai (he is our pride)…so why not have a small celebration,” says his school principal Aijaz Khan. “He never wanted to study and used to bunk classes,” recalls Aijaz. “His enthusiasm for the game was such that on occasions, I allowed him to go for practice from the back door,” says Aijaz.
“I wanted him to be a constable or a peon in a sarkari office, but in 2007, he asked me to give him three years to play cricket and make a mark,” says Shamshad.
“Our mother used to make bidis to eke out a living. I run a private vehicle to feed the 23-member family. But, now that Kamran has hit success, we will see good days,” says Shamshad.
Kamran will be getting Rs 15 lakh for the first season, and if he continues to be in the team till next year, he will be richer by Rs 50 lakh. Sure, the boy has given his family and this small village a lot to cheer about. And every time the Royals play, like when they took on Delhi on Tuesday, Mau celebrates, whether Kamran wins or loses.