Wednesday, March 30, 2011 was a nail biting day for Indians and Pakistanis across the world. Some of our friends made it to Mohali, India to watch this legendary match. Legendary: umm, this was probably Cricket God Sachin Tendulkar’s last world cup. So, yeah. Legendary! The saying, “Cricket and cinema are India’s religion,” isn’t an exaggeration!
When we woke up on the day of the match, the first thing I did was log onto Facebook. Best place for news, statistics, or any kind of updates. I noticed people had posted doom and gloom. You could tell India wasn’t doing too well. Honestly, It was disheartening to watch her get beat up. Most of us were betting on a 300+ score. But the Indian team ended with 260.
I called up my father in India to whine about the country’s poor score. He told me that on the streets back home, people had started praying and reading from religious texts. Some were even burning effigies. I told him I wasn’t very different; I had pledged to give up wine for two weeks if India won the semi finals. See, not that I don’t care about the outcome of the finals. But the India-Pak game is sacred. It brings out a dark side in citizens of both the countries.
I had a reading last night, at one of the oldest reading venues in New York City. I had informed my event organizer ahead of time that if India lost, I would wear the defeat on my face. Not deliberately, but I couldn’t help it. C’mon, the day before, I went and got my nails painted saffron. I had my outfit ready to flaunt the tri-color of the Indian flag. All in support of team India. But fortunately, we kicked ass. Pakistan played well. No doubt. But we won.
I went dressed in saffron, green, white, and blue: colors of the Indian flag. In fact, I announced to the audience: "The reason I look like someone who sipped from the rainbow is because India won." It was such a proud moment.
When one of my friends said that he hoped both the countries would be happy irrespective of the outcome until such time the game was good, I told him that he’d lost it. Perhaps, he was smoking something. I was irked when I heard Indians say that they wanted Pakistan to play Sri Lanka in the finals.
In know it’s a free world. And people are entitled to their opinions. But when it comes to cricket, an inexplicable surge of patriotism takes over me. I might not always watch it, but if I do, I won’t root for any other country playing against India. I get thirsty for loyalty.
I am not bragging, but I would like to think of myself as a religiously tolerant, open-minded, and empathetic human being. Writing, especially poetry, will do that to any one. Art teaches humanity. It preaches non-violence, questions archaic doctrines, focuses on global peace. I felt solemn when Pakistan faced floods or the time when their Punjab Province's Governor, Salman Taseer, was assassinated. But even the balm of poetry can’t touch the India-Pak animosity when it comes to cricket. Like the billion of us, I wanted one thing: An Indian victory.
I read on a friend’s status update: “1 billion people. 1 billion prayers. 2 billion chappals...!”:-) Did the fear of assault turn the game around? I hardly think so. But that’s what is so ridiculously awesome about Indians. We love fiercely, revere incredibly, and admonish equally when it comes to cricket and cinema.
My writer friends from Pakistan feel the same way about their country whenever there is an India-Pak match. All our ethos of “One world, one love” goes out the window when the two countries compete:-) After all, our roots are the same.
More until next time,
Copyright © 03.31.2011
“Cricket to us was more than play, it was a worship in the summer sun.”