The Indo-Pak war on the game field
Sports are something I have never been overly fond of. I would shy away from the races, the cricket matches, the basketball tournaments and even sports day in some way or another. Over time, I began to slowly participate at least in one or two events, some game or another that was fun, activities like swimming and so on. As I grew older, it became harder not to get drawn into celebrating some sports event or another as people around me would eventually get very excited when there was a special game or some sporting event coming up. But one game that has continually outshone every other in my country is cricket and an event in cricket where India and Pakistan play against each other would be threaded with such immense tension, anticipation and fervor that it becomes difficult to not get pulled in.
This year, on the 30th of March 2011 was one such day, the ICC world cup was on and India and Pakistan were set to fight it out on the fields for the semifinals. As always, there was a lot of mayhem surrounding it, people were logging in early to work, children were home early from school or bunking, the games were being screened all over town and even in offices and hospitals. I could not understand what all the fuss was about but thoroughly enjoyed having a day with hardly any work. The India-Pakistan world cup matches I learnt have a history behind them. My friend told me with a lot of brevity and much nodding that until this year, any match that India would play against Pakistan in the world cup has consistently been won by India. Other opinions regarding why so much fervor were also there as I investigated, some simply looked at me with varying expressions of incredulity, anger and even asked if I had lost my mind to ‘investigate’ such a matter.
I found that India-Pak matches were called as the’ Mother of all matches’, there were special LCD’s, projectors and more set up in all the top hotels in the city, free offers of beer and food among friends watching it together, combo match specials at pubs across the city and so much more hype everywhere you go. There were slogans, SMS’s, songs, posts on face book and a million other taunts and jibes hurled back and forth building up the mood, ‘a patriotic fervor’ I heard someone justify in the hours preceding the game. To me though it was like watching a circus or a carnival. The groans, the screams, the tears and the tension would make you think we had sent 20,000 of our best soldiers to battle it out with theirs rather than it being a game. It felt like all the talks and the smiles, pictures of both prime ministers shaking hands and meeting on field were all just the pretense of two bitter people who were once a couple biting in their venomous thoughts and smiling for the benefit of the crowd around them. It felt like all these people egging on before the match were simply those relatives and neighbors on the sidelines munching on burgers and watching an ugly scene unfold.
I wondered at the end of the day, as even before the last over was bowled crackers brightened the night sky to the simultaneous resounding beats from ‘Vande Mataram’, ‘Chak De India’ and ‘Jai Ho’ if there was really all that much to celebrate about. Just because India and Pakistan had strained ties for years and it still goes on, we create all this furor about beating them. And if these players who were jubilant last night had not won, wouldn’t these same people hurl abuses and blame them till kingdom come talking about how it was the end of an Era or that they do not have the slightest knowledge about the game or even mourn and shriek in agony while cursing the God’s and every player in the team. Funny isn’t it? How fickle are our emotions and how we forget that this is but just a game and there is so much more going on all around us, all over the world and perhaps we should not turn everything to do with India and Pakistan into a bloody war if we are indeed trying to establish peace and harmony between the two nations. Having said that, I stand awaiting the brickbats