Friday, 5 July 2013

To tell you, I never been a big fan of Yuvraj Singh. This has nothing to do with any particular dislike for Yuvraj. It's only that we have our own favourites in Indian cricket. Although I will not discount any negative preoccupied thoughts about Yuvraj. Hence when I decided to read Yuvraj Singh's new book, the Test of My Life, I was apathetic reader (or maybe, had some negative pre held thoughts). Below is Yuvraj Singh Book Review.

I never cared where Yuvraj Singh stood on ground or the number of centuries he scored; and I never really thought discreetly about his fight with Cancer. On a much casual glance, Yuvraj Singh always appeared to me as a reluctant cricketer, with great luck, who every person, who mattered in Indian cricket, favoured, many a times in an almost blatant interested manner. I even envied how everyone from BCCI, to his past coaches, to selectors, to an average cricket fan, stood behind him in his fight with cancer; and how BCCI ensured that his absence from cricket ground is compensated fittingly (read pecuniary). In addition, did I see Yuvraj Singh as a brat, spoiled by his father and mother? Yes I do.  Yuvraj's mum and dad appeared to me as those parents who found everything their kid does -- Cute.

With such a mindset and pre held thoughts I started reading the book, Yuvraj Singh -- The Test of My Life. As an avid reader, I read books from cover to cover -- Even things like the Publication date, Copyright... everything.

The book's very first page is a scanned letter in Yuvraj's handwriting. You move on and you read a long preface, where Yuvraj meticulously thanked everyone. For me the book started unraveling itself from the Preface itself. It appeared as if Yuvraj doesn't want to forget anyone who stood besides him during the Test of his Life -- the Fight with Cancer. While reading the preface, although I sometimes felt that he is thanking everyone and sparing no one; still something hit me. That something was the Honesty.  The preface was long, but since it was honest, it was never lengthy.

I completed the entire book in a one and half days; and found that, the book not only is Honest -- it's interesting and addictive. Interesting, as it's not about Yuvraj Singh as cricketer, but his Life before and with Cricket.

"Pure Inspiration" -- Sachin Tendulkar

On the book cover, there's written, "Pure Inspiration" -- Sachin Tendulkar. The words are Sachin's opinion of the book. The words for the book, sum up the book for me.

Yuvraj Singh's  -- The Test of My Life:

The book Yuvraj Singh  -- The Test of My Life -- is coauthored by journalists Sharda Ugra and Nishant Jeet Arora. The arrangement may be like this: Yuvraj's story packaged by the two. And that makes the task difficult for the authors.

Since the book is about a major event in Yuvraj's life -- his fight with cancer; the authors could so easily have spun the story, which can easily get derailed into some clever marketing exercise, designed to enhance Yuvraj's 'brand value'. Although any such derailment may not have affected the popularity of the book, but it could have seriously jeopardised the quality of the book for a non fan. Thankfully, the writers chose not to follow the easy path, and instead focussed on telling the truth with all its frailties and unattractiveness and present Yuvraj, as a mortal like You and I. Someone who has similar struggles, aspirations and expectations like us.

Yuvraj Singh demystified:

The book traces the life of Yuvraj Singh, from Birth to 2012, the year he was diagnosed with Cancer. The good thing is, it demystifies Yuvraj Singh, in a way that you, like I, will shed many of the preconceived notions about Yuvraj Singh, and instead see him in a new light.

The book which is written around an important event in Yuvraj Singh's life, can always has the likelihood of getting reduced to a pity party. Thankfully, Yuvraj's fight with Cancer, makes for just One out of Six chapters in the book. So what is the book all about? It's about Yuvraj Singh the person. Whose life though revolved around cricket had other ensembles as well -- parents, friends, society, ...aspirations, dreams, heart breaks, achievements ... and Growth. Growth as an individual -- which we sometimes call, coming of age. If we come of age, popular people too.

At one point, the book tells how Yuvraj used to love Skating. As a nine year old, he not only used to love the sport; he was particularly good at it. He won a Gold medal in a skating event and showed it to his father, ex Cricketer Yograj Singh. Father threw away the gold medal, calling skating a Girly Sport. Yuvraj, felt the way any nine year old would have felt. He wasn't sure how to react.

At another place, Yuvraj narrates an incident, where Navjot Singh Siddhu saw 13 year old Yuvraj bat. Seeing Yuvraj bat, Siddhu instantly gave his expert opinion -- This Child is Not made for Cricket. His father, who had pushed him to play cricket, got stung by the Siddhu Speak, and like any other "too ambitious father", made  "making Yuvraj the best cricketer" his sole agenda in Life. And we thought, only Ordinary folks have pushy parents. Thirteen year old Yuvraj also wondered the logic behind his father waking him up at 5AM in Chandigarh winters, and making him bat post dinner under floodlights.

The book is full of incidents, where Yuvraj felt the same way ordinary joe feels.

Like how one feels if someone taunts him/her for having a pushy, ambitious parent?

How one feels, if he/she has to see an always quarrelling parents?

How one feels to have parents who are least appreciative, when their wishes are not fulfilled?

How one feels, if the friends and extended family taunts parents for the poor showing of the child?

How one feels if the people you see as friends, backstab?

The book not only shares numerous such incidents where Yuvraj asked and felt the same way, by intelligently and logically knitting them around Yuvraj's cricket ; but also tells how Yuvraj learned to reconcile with them. For instance, at one place commenting thoughtfully on his parents' unending quarrels during his childhood; Yuvraj puts this reasoning: "Personally, I think the rift between my parents happened because they married when they were young: my mom was about eighteen when she got married. She had me in a year's time. Dad was just twenty-two." (page 24).

Some paragraphs ahead, he feels heartfelt grief when he remembers, how his younger brother Zorawar, about eight years younger to him, had to suffer because of parents constant quarrels. Yuvraj, who was already 18 during those tumultuous times, saw himself remaining unscathed of that emotional trauma. But still he feels sad for his ten year old brother. Siblings, whether ordinary or celebrities, are the same.

In another narration, Yuvraj tells how Senior players in his Ranji Team, used to belittle him and Bhajju (Harbhajan Singh's pet name). More than a decade now, Yuvraj reasons, may be that behaviour emanated from the fact that the presence of players much younger to them, made them feel insecure.

Final Word:

The book is not a about a popular cricketer in India. It's a journey into what makes us human. It's about how some events in our lives (in Yuvraj's case, his fight with Cancer) make us better judges of people, situations and God's designs. Sachin Tendulkar rightly calls the book Pure Inspiration. Yuvraj calls it Life, which in his words is repetitive act of:  "Running Full Tilt and Falling, then dusting myself and Carrying on" (page 80).

Do read it if you celebrate Life. No matter if you are not Cricket or Yuvraj Fan. It's a Pure Inspiration and Real Motivation.

[PS: 24 Pages of Copyright Photographs at the end of book, tracing Yuvraj Singh from Childhood to now, are great.]

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