Suresh bhai and the magic of radio

And so, quietly, Suresh bhai moved on. He didn't call time, didn't read out his own card, didn't shut the old accounts-style register where he had written down everything he had prepared, didn't look wistfully out to the ground... No, he just moved on.

He was lonely, ever since his wife and the strength of his life Meera, had passed away a few years ago. He was wedded to her and to cricket and nothing meant more to him than the CCI and the Brabourne Stadium, for that was where his journey as a test match commentator began. He often walked there and lamented that it was no longer his.

But if he had indeed looked at his scorecard he would have been proud of what he did. A simple Gujarati middle class boy, always aware that those around him spoke better, more stylish English, he fought his way through the system, sometimes worked it, often felt frustrated by it but he could be proud that he belonged to the only really good era of radio broadcasting in India. There were other giants around him: Pearson Surita, my favourite Anant Setalvad, the gentlemanly Dicky Rutnagar, Devraj Puri and his son Narottam but he stood out because he was different; his accent, his choice of words, his story-telling.

His success lay in not letting those shortcomings limit him. Instead he evolved a style of his own and that is what radio is all about. When at school, where radio was the only medium around, I would barrack for Setalvad, my friends would say 'long-layyyyg' in Suresh bhai's manner. They loved him for his style. Years later I shared a commentary box with him and waited for the 'long- layyyyg'. It always came and we could laugh over it. "Motabhai," he would say and launch into a Gujarati line which he then explained.

... contd.

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