This, that and the other. Mostly the other
The creators of the bestselling Chicken Soup for the Soul series have announced the publication of a special IPL edition of the popular inspirational book.
In the pipeline for many years, the release of the book had suffered lengthy delays due to a number of controversial technicalities, the first of which was when a few vegetarian cricketers (led by an unusually vociferous Virender Sehwag) expressed outrage at the thought of their souls developing a taste for meat.
The bigger problem, however, was the raging debate as to whether IPL cricketers qualified to have a Chicken Soup for the Soul book devoted to them at all, seeing as how they were rumoured not to be in possession of their souls anymore, having long since sold them at a premium.
"Yes, there was some concern about that," admitted motivational speaker Jack Canfield, the brains behind the series, speaking at a launch yesterday. "But then I reminded everyone that we have Chicken Soup books devoted to dogs, cats, and, crucially, even horses and donkeys. It has long been said of animals that they have no souls either, but then again, we can't prove they don't.
"If we can give asses a chance, why not IPL cricketers?" he said, his voice breaking with practised emotion. "So with love in our hearts, we are pleased to offer you Chicken Soup for the IPL Cricketer's Soul. May you experience the miracles of love, joy, and inspiration when you read this book. May it touch you in the heart and move your spirit."
Canfield said he had been overwhelmed by the number of uplifting stories submitted by IPL cricketers for his book, and that he had been deeply moved by the depth of feeling they expressed for themselves. After thanking all the contributors and apologising to those whose submissions didn't make the final cut ("Sorry Shoaib Akhtar, but our agreement with the IPL stipulates that we're not to include Pakistani stories of inspiration") a few select entries were read out.
"This one's from Harbhajan Singh," began Canfield, having to stop when spontaneous laughter erupted around the packed media room. "... and it's called 'How the IPL helped my good self Make It Large again'."
"Unlike spin bowling, Making It Large used to come as second nature to me," began the inspirational entry. "Ads, girls, more ads. It was the life. But then Team India dropped me, and I lost my mojo. Suddenly I was no longer Making it Large. Obviously love life also suffered, no?
"Well, the IPL gave me my groove back. If not for IPL, I'd have no job, and certainly no girlfriend. Good things have started to happen to good self again. I have been made captain of my team, and have been hard at work on a new mystery ball, called the pehla. Yes, I am now Making it Large again! Love life has very much improved. Thank you IPL, and thank you Butter Chicken for the Soul for helping me share this message of triumph in adversity."
In the silence following Canfield's reading of Harbhajan Singh's entry, Jesse Ryder made his way up to the podium after ensuring the psychiatrist he'd brought with him from New Zealand was firmly leashed to her chair. Ryder fought back tears of emotion as he read from his entry.
"Everyone knows about my disciplinary record. I'm always being pulled up by New Zealand Cricket for just being myself. Well, my experience with the IPL has taught me the value of living life to the full when away from national duty. Seriously, live it up before you leave India, cos it's all downhill from here."
But perhaps the most heartrending passage in the book is the one written by Chris Gayle, in a piece that is a departure from the usual format in the Chicken Soup series - the first piece in its history written in the third person. Also interesting is the fact that it is written almost entirely in Twitterspeak.
"Chris Gayle back.com LOL IPL fo' life, Sweet Azz," read the first and only words of a five-page long entry. (The rest of it consisted of a long series of exclamation points.)
"We've had a lot of heartfelt responses from readers already for that one," said Canfield. "One woman from generic small-town USA, a single mother of three, wrote in to say that if Gayle and others like him could find succour in making millions in the IPL, then that gives her strength to overcome her own difficulties of holding down four jobs on minimum wage so she can feed her family.
"Warms your cockles, doesn't it?," said Canfield.
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