I am one of those rare species of human beings inhabiting this side of the planet who do not follow cricket. Clearly, as far as the subcontinent is concerned, this is akin to one being a non-believer, as cricket is the official religion in these parts of the globe. And non-believers are condemned to a life of isolation. Never mind that it is these non-believers who provide a variety of support services that enable the believers to practise their religion faithfully, like ensuring a regular stream of hot pakoras to munch and offering to babysit the little ones of the ‘staunch believer parents.'
With the World Cup fever on, one could enjoy the luxury of a leisurely walk on the main roads while the rest of the world followed the fortunes of their favourite, overpaid and overburdened stars. There were shops which were unmanned and where goods were left to the dear mercy of robbers. Never mind that even robbers were watching cricket; they were too busy to rob! The public transport stand wore a deserted look. And when the religion was being practised so faithfully, there walked a nonchalant non-believer who couldn't care less who won the match. After all, it is a game, you win some you lose some, she said.
Amid the accusations of being unpatriotic, some staunch believers came to me and explained the rules of the game in the manner one would chide an errant child. They sympathetically seemed to think that it was lack of knowledge that had made me so indifferent. So they proceeded to enlighten me. For me however, ‘maiden' refers only to the heroines who grace Jane Austen's novels and who are the epitome of grace. ‘The Men in Blue' remind me of ‘Monday morning blues' that all of us have. They tried to tell me the difference between a ‘wide ball' and a ‘no ball' and I innocently asked them, “How can a ball of fixed shape become wide or disappear altogether?” Finally, in exasperation they gave up and condemned me to a life of non-enlightenment! When I tried to say that liking or not liking a game was a matter of simply applying Freudian theories of likes and dislikes which governed individual choices, they looked at me as if I had misquoted the Bible.
So they left me to enjoy the pleasures of solitary walks and undisturbed days of peace, while they practised our motherland's official religion — cricket!
(The writer's email is firstname.lastname@example.org)