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     Occasionally, my father came to take me home and I would always ask him to treat me to a special fruit cocktail at a juice centre near the club. While this regular demand was a little unreasonable, because at the time I did not realize that my parents also had to take care of the needs of my brothers and sister, my father would invariably end up giving me what I wanted, just to see me happy. On other days, when I made my way home from Shivaji Park on my own, I’d often fall asleep on the bus – if I managed to sit down. Anyone who has been on a Mumbai bus at peak hours will know just how difficult it is to get a seat. On days when I wasn’t so lucky, it was still a challenge just to stand with the kitbag, because the bus conductors would inevitably complain about me taking up the space of another passenger. It could be embarrassing because the conductors were often rude and would sometimes ask me to buy two tickets. I didn’t have the money for a second ticket and I had to learn to take these remarks in my stride. Dirty clothes often added to the embarrassment. With time, I evolved a way of wrapping the kitbag around me. Just as the helmet and pads became a part of me while batting, so the kitbag became an extension of me on the bus. I’d often take the bus or train from Bandra to Church gate, and it was all a great learning experience.
     Even though I loved cricket, there were still occasional days when playing with my friends at home was such fun that I would conveniently forget I was supposed to go to the nets. If I didn’t turn up, Achrekar Sir would jump on to his scooter and come to find me. Sir would spot me in the melee and virtually drag me out. I would come up with excuses but he would have none of it. He would get me to change and head off to Shivaji Park.
Every person who strives towards achieving a goal has to face struggles of one's own. Similarly, Sachin, too, had his own fair share of troubles before he became the God of cricket. His practice sessions were making him highly tired as it was too much for an eleven or twelve-year-old. His entire day was taken away by the sport, which required a lot of physical strain. He recalls as to how his father used to visit the ground occasionally to pick him up. This was a refreshing thing for a tired soul as it meant getting a little treat from father. Sachin often used to demand a special fruit cocktail from the nearest shop to the club, as it would be refreshing after a hard day. But he did not realise that it was an added luxury to spend on such items as his family was from a struggling background, which already had to cater to the needs of 5 people. Despite all that, his father would give in and get him the juice, as it brought a smile to Sachin's face.
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Fruit cocktail
Sachin emphasises on how hard it was to travel by bus after a day's practice. He had his cricket kit with him, and he boarded the bus after \(7\) pm, which was usually the peak hours. Mumbai is a metropolitan city that usually has crowded buses, especially during peak hours. He would rarely get a seat in the bus, which was a blessing as he would easily fall asleep after the tiring day. But most days, he would not be lucky enough and had to stand in the bus all the way home. He had his kit, which made it even more difficult for him as it took up the space. The bus conductors were rude to him as he was taking up the space of another passenger. The kit was heavy with all his equipment and was quite big too. He was asked to take the ticket for the luggage, which he was not able to afford. Initially, it was embarrassing to hear all the ridicule, especially since he often wore dirty clothes after hours of practice. But he soon got used to it and dodged those remarks. The kit soon became a part of him, and he got used to the routine, and he saw it as a learning experience.
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Boy batting wearing cricket kit
Although the practice session went well, Sachin cherished a game with his colony friends like good old times. He would occasionally skip net practise and play with his friends. But Achrekar sir was very strict and also determined to make him successful that he would take his scooter and find him playing, and drag him to the ground. Although Sachin would come up with excuses, he would have none of it as he was keen on getting him to go and practice cricket.
Meaning of difficult words:
CocktailA drink made from a mixture of fruits
InvariablyAlmost always happening
UnreasonableWithout any logic
KitbagA cylindrical canvas bag with one's possessions
InevitablyThat which cannot be avoided
EmbarrassmentFeeling uncomfortable or shy
RudeNot polite or angry
MeleeA crowd of people hurrying across the road
State Council of Educational Research and Training 2019. Term 1 English Standard - 9. Learning the Game - Sachin Tendulkar (pp. 1 -17). Published by the Tamil Nadu Textbook and Educational Services Corporation.