Sunday, April 3

King of anything

(Much has, is being & will be written about the 2nd of April 2011. This is my sentimental contribution.)

I am 28 years old, the amount of time a nation waited. It is a nation of sufferers & cynics, a country where it is easier to be corrupt than to be a good person. A place which makes it hard to simply and truly wear a worn out heart on a scuffed sleeve and wait for joy. Think about what experiences an inherently religious nation has to go through before the idea of 'belief' mutates into something that must be constantly tested.

This is the same country that voluntarily chooses to fall in love with a team sport in which 11 men have ample opportunities to fail individually. A sport hosted in arenas that have plumbed the depths of human decency. One who's administrators are, collectively, about as criminally incompetent, indifferent & selfish as a group of people can be. This is a place where a nation's passion for a sport constantly fights a bloodied battle with faith.

This is the Indian's relationship with cricket.

I'm an early 80's kid and my mother would often tell me the story of June 25th, 1983. About how a young woman flew up three flights of stairs holding her 6 month old son and saw the moment. About how, earlier in the day, she knew, with an instinct that was hers alone, that 38 would be the highest individual score. About... an enviable belief that turned into a moment of joy which made life seem bearable, even if it was for an instant.

I don't know if that was the seed, but I have watched and loved cricket since I can remember. But I did not have the belief. One side of me is the partisan Indian fan. I don't know about the fancy gimmicks of today, but the heart has bled a normal red for the team. The other side has appreciated great bowling & the flawless graceful technique of batsmanship, no matter who the opposition.

More often than not though, my experiences have been coloured by disbelief. When India managed to win, it was there. When India managed to lose, it was there. That's what you get for watching India play cricket.

And then there is India's bond with Sachin Tendulkar. No sportsman in the history of any game has or will take on the burdens he has. None other can cause a collective plumb in a nation's spirit simply by not being successful on the day. Or raise it, by succeeding. Think about the incomprehensible, unfair enormity of it. That is all.

So yes, when he was out yesterday, I did what 28 years of conditioning commanded - I stopped watching. Thank heavens for Cricinfo, though.

See, I don't have the luxury of forgetting Sharjah 1986, Eden Gardens 1996, Chennai 1999 or Johannesburg 2003. Yes, in the past few years, India has won more than it has lost and, in the process, pulled some spectacular ones off. There have been a lot of soothing moments. Yet, before yesterday, say the words 'India, Sri Lanka, World cup' and I'm willing to bet that the first image that pops into the mind's eye was the sight of a grown man's heart-rending tears as he left the field. There are some embers that glow, no matter how much time has passed.

So, for me yesterday was about the average Indian fan's journey watching a team normally snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. It was about the finest partnership in Indian cricket and one that will go down in history - the one between a captain and a coach.

It was about watching SRT cry in public for the first time ever and understanding, for they were tears of joy.

It was about shedding tears myself; for him, for the past & for the ancient blood hum of sport which lives beyond words.

The burning embers from watching 28 years of cricket were extinguished on the night of 2nd April, 2011.

Maybe, just maybe, I'll begin to believe.

Song for the moment: Chariots of Fire- Vangelis


Piggy Little said...

u give me goosebumps with all that u write. i am not an ardent cricket fan but i know what you meean!

girish said...

Whatay kind compliment indeed. Thanks.

Jigyasa... said...

:) I can only imagine how ecstatic you must have been after we won.. and this time i supported India :)

Jigyasa... said...

PS- very well written though. But then again, you always write well! :D

girish said...

@ Jigyasa - Thank you. And yes, I was extremely thrilled with the win.