Well. There goes Post A Week down the drain. Should have called it Post Every Twenty Days or something (unfortunately, WordPress have no such initiative). In any case, better late than never.
Things have changed in these past few days; but if they’re for better or worse I can’t quite figure out. Allow me to start here:
For the past 16 years, I have fended questions about my ethnicity, or rather, the cricket part of it ( 😉 ), with an “I’m not really a cricket person” or “I don’t speak cricket, mate”, or quite simply, nodded along to whatever the other person was saying, pretending I knew what they were talking about when, really, I hadn’t a rat’s poop about what they were saying. For 16 years, I have held my head up high, very proud of the fact that I hadn’t yet fallen into the black hole of cricket, hadn’t succumbed to this infectious, seemingly ubiquitous craze.
How this turnaround happened, I am at a loss to explain. Surrounded by friends, colleagues and family who were addicted to the game, I have long considered myself ‘immune’ to cricket. To me, it seemed like a game designed either by a mathematician or a drunkard playing chess (both are just as bad). Not anymore. I think the real ‘switch’ happened when, for the first time ever, I actually watched cricket in class. Our business studies teacher is Irish, and he was, well, really rubbing it in our faces that they beat a hotshot team like England. In fact, he designed a whole poster to proclaim that they would beat in turn, England, India and (this really did it!) Pakistan, each represented as a cricket association logo with a large, red cross on it. I think that proved a bit too graphic: not just for me, but for the entire class. We were up in arms, sounds of protest piercing the air. Not a surprise when the majority of the class comprises of Indian and Pakistani students. And that wasn’t all: he even went as far as to say that when Ireland beat Pakistan he’d give us the lesson off. Now, that ‘when’ would have made any dignified Pakistani stand up in anger, be it a hard-core cricket hater like me. Besides, all my Indian friends were scowling too (he’d made a similar comment about them), so it was all the better ;). We walked out of class that day with deflated souls, ready to slaughter our teacher with blunt knives, ensuring he died a slow, very painful death. (okay, I’m joking … but still).
But what really struck me was how cricket could unite people from all walks of life, regardless of where they came from. How it made people feel like they were part of some bigger picture. How they were giving back to the spirit of the game. How they yelled and screamed for their side to win, not because they were mad (like I previously thought), but because they were patriotic. And that was a very, very difficult pill to swallow. For the first time in my life, I felt a little ashamed to have bluntly stated my hatred for the game; it wasn’t fair to the thousands who loved it. I’d just discovered the key to understanding what this confusing tangle of cricket was all about: giving back to where you came from. It was an undeniable part of Pakistani culture, part of who I was. Hidden somewhere beneath my dislike for the game, but definitely present anyway. I think I was finally able to understand this inexplicable passion, perhaps not able to relate to it yet, but I certainly got how people were falling head over heels for the game. And it made me smile – on the outside as well as the inside. I think that, through the strangest means possible, I’d made an even bigger realisation, (and I say this very sheepishly in a quiet voice) that I am, er, very proud of where I come from. All I can say is that when Pakistan play against Ireland, we all know which shade of green I’ll be cheering for this time around. Not shamrocks, but stars and crescents all the way!
Until next time 🙂