Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Welcome to the Cult, Chosen Ones - Post TGME

Before reading into this, please watch this first. Robin Williams wants to tell you something.

To put it as mildly as possible, the gist of his talk revolves around how you can't boast about certain things in life unless you have experienced them, you have lived those very moments and breathed in them. It is a speech that helps in preceding practicalities of life to its theories, assists in identifying walkers from the talkers and supports in the culmination of separating  men from the boys. It gives pointers to the two ends of life spectrum, the best moments and the worst. It tells you about how you can fall in and fall out of love with life. And many other things associated with it.

30th March 2011 was one such event in the aftermath of which Robin Williams's words to Pakistani cricket fans, especially the ones who had their hearts ripped apart due to their first major cricket heartache, would have connected. But possibly, the occasion was meant for a selective few, the already blessed ones - the ones who relived the pain of years and decades through this new generation of victims, the ones who would guide the new flock of loyalists to the world where they belong to and try to force the glory cashiers to get off the bandwagon.

And in the words of Frank Slade, "When the shit hits the fan, some guys run and some guys stay."

That exactly was the shit which broke loose on 30th March 2011, and the kind which provided a test.
Absorb this scene. It will either make or break you for your remaining lives.
It's been a good few days since TGME happened. I guess by this time most of the Pakistanis are done with at least 3 of the 5 stages of grief. Denial, anger and bargaining seem to be dealt with by the majority who was nuts about this match and was taken in by it's well-deserved hype. For all 5 phases to sink in together, let me be honest, was not and is no easy deal. Even for the die-hards and the serial masochists of Pakistan cricket, it hasn't been smooth going.

Let's face it, it's been a tough ride. A post-traumatic phase, which you would have dreaded after a humongous build up and a match of such magnitude, did transpire. To understate anything else would be insulting to those who have been shell-shocked, wept relentlessly, gone into week long depression, broken mobile phones, TV sets, overdid on their venting out mechanisms and everything that has to do with getting rid of the misery suffered at Mohali. And then to add to all of this, India took the trophy couple of days later. Bam!

But then, this agonizing journey means only for those who can absorb it all and will cross over to the other side of the fence. The end which makes a life of a Pakistani cricket fanatic - the holy cult.

As far as India is concerned, one would believe we have had it all. We have seen the self-inflicted mindfuck at Bangalore '96 happen, lived through the horror of Manchester '99 and survived the colossal torment at Centurion '03 (which for me personally, is right up there with the severest cricket heartbreaks).

But hey, it has not always been about India in World Cups. If it had been the case, it would be a crass evaluation of the traits of a Pakistan cricket nut.

Adversity teaches..
There have been many days when life has seemingly ceased to exist for the current crop. We have watched our greats implode at Faisalabad '97, the lifetime heart-breaker of  Lord's '99, the Aussie bigotry of Hobart '99, the injustice at Antigua '00, the finishing failure at Colombo '02, the Irish shocker of Kingston '07, the untimely choke at Galle '09 and few other major dents in between these two years.

Let's not dig deep into the past, maybe you would have lived through the agony of Sydney '10 or even the daylight robbery at St. Lucia '10. If you have, and you know what this bond is all about, the cost and hurt it comes with, the sardonic opposition you have to face, then you are definitely one of us.

Moreover, amidst all these unforgettable on-field clusterfuck of tragedies, we have lived through cricket's unfathomable episodes and events. The major part of our 90s was plagued with players factions and groupings, match fixing scandals, all of which was never rooted out and hence 2000s were inbred with them. We had players cheat, banned, fined and disgracefully retired; continual changes in administration giving our cricket the image of a neglected orphanage; coaches ending their tenures even before their first payslips were handed and have had one foreign coach (who had more Pakistaniat than many of us) die; politicians, ex-army generals interfere with the sports and leaving it paralyzed, terrorists attack on a visiting team thus ending any international cricket prospects in the country. And to the dismay of all of it, most of these things still haunt with their presence and their activities.
Food for your souls, dear believers
These are not your average causes of psychotherapeutic disorders. These are the ingredients for resistance and the bits that make you.

Ours is no Liverpool or Arsenal Football Club where if you don't win silverwares, you can fall back on history and say, hey we can bitch about you on basis of our past glories. Yes we do have a glorious past, have won almost everything in the game and have had almost every record accomplished, yet ours is not the way to fall back on yesteryear splendors. Among all the madness and sadness, we have learnt to live in the moment and that is where we get our strength from and one of the modes of how we feed our demented souls.

Life beckons, bleed green
This is a mosh-pit where believers learn to cope with sadism after being put through incessant tests of callous and maddeningly inconsistent on-field acts.

This is a congregation of habitual masochists who have taken the brunt of backing the only assembled lunatics of this game and never to subside easily.

This is a deranged mob of omnipotent vertebrates who have seen miracles transpire on a cricket field and have manifested in bleeding green only.

And once you have become the part of this cult..

You will come out of heartbreaks stronger, knowing that amidst all the perennial joys that Pakistan cricket provides you'll be able to live through the rugged of moments. You will know that you are a class apart from the glory hunters, fair weather folks, World Cup specialists and cricket cocktails who rode with you at some point of your evolution. You will realize that there is an unnerving self belief in you that is instilled only because you worship this cricket team and it will replicate in many things in life that you do.

Once there, times will come when you will feel being amputated, psyched out, mentally incapacitated and still being able to physically function. There will be stages when you will be staring in the mirror for hours and still be able to laugh if off. There will be times when it will occur to you that you are unable to cry anymore and the tears won't come out. And then there will be times when you will be lending the fresh jingoists your shoulder to cry on because yours has become strong enough to sustain their weight, and you'll be telling them "This too shall pass."

These will be few of the symptoms through which you will know you have become a Pakistani cricket masochist and have converted into a specie so unique that the world gets fascinated by you and finds pacification of sorts by watching you. You will be the embodiment of Rudyard Kipling's If..

Welcome to the holy cult, chosen ones. Welcome to the greener side.

Abhi ishq ke imtihaan aur bhi hain.. (More tests of your love await you..)