A dark theatre room. It’s inside of a magnificent house. Seven big, plush, reclining seats in it, each with its own holder for drinks, for popcorn, you name it. What they’re being used for right now, the architect might not have envisioned. A phone in one, a book in the other, a glass of water - a glass of water! Sacrilege – where the soda usually would be. Glasses in one. And the person who owns them rubbing his eyes, it’s late in the morning. Or early in the morning, late at night. We’ve been up all night. Waiting for this one moment. But is that really the phrase for this? This one moment? The moment that lasts almost 9 hours. It’s really that long, this game. 50 overs one side, and then however much it takes to bowl the entire team or for them to make the score and more. It’s a long game. You need to have a lot of patience, one would think. But patience is needed only when you don’t enjoy the activity in question. The people watching this match are passionately in love with the game, especially the one being played right now.
It’s only every few years that Pakistan and India, the estranged siblings face each other in cricket. Every few years that both nations can feel so passionately about a matching as they do when these two face. Because yes, cricket is in our blood. It’s in every kid’s childhood, watching TV growing up, watching his elders jump when their team makes a chakka – scores a six – or watching their faces go sour, when it’s a ‘catch-out’. It’s the only time the entire nation unites in pure, unadulterated excitement, excitement that only kids have before they lose it in the dullness of adulthood, and of adult life.
It’s only ever few years that Pakistan and India clash, as two titans once siblings in the pantheon of gods, once one entity, now estranged, and both cast out from Olympus. And this year, this day, it’s here.
I look at the faces around me, excited, worried, but most of all happy to be here. I’m sure they remember the days they watched these specific games with their families, as I do. The nostalgia rushes over me as a wave sweeps over the shore and washes onto it precious things. I look at them, and they all look similar. We’re all brown, we’re all one people. Different countries, different identities, but we are one. We face the same struggles, we literally have the same foods, the same celebrations, same language. One people.
“And it’s a six!” the TV announces excitedly.
Half of us cheer, half of us remain silent. Our time will come.
I look at them, and I close my eyes.
The car ride here was so much fun. Just desi songs, such a fobby playlist, I remember when all of us started singing as soon as Zaalima came on. And I’m sure we all had the same image in our heads, Shah Rukh Khan wooing Mahira in a black shalwaar kameez, looking like only he can look, and her stunning as well. Windows open, wind racing past us, roaring, and yet even it could not drown out our collective, Indian and Pakistani chorus.
I open them again. The match is still playing. Of course it is, why would it go anywhere.
“Catch out, what a spectacular catch by –”
I close my eyes, the card game. The card games. So much fun. Only desi families, and by extension, desi people can be as obnoxious and loud playing cards as we were, and still be friends after. Just so much shouting, and so much drama. There’s a lot of both, and all in card games by desis, ultimatums, and whatnot.
I open them. What? Don’t look at me like that! I love the game, but I’ve been up since five am yesterday. I was tired. I closed my eyes and fell asleep. The game is over. But really, nothing’s changed. We’re all still friends, we’re very generous. Yes, there a few more jokes from one side, but does that really matter?
In the end, we can all still bond over samosas.