Last year, sick on a weekend, feeling sorry for myself, I called two of my friends and demanded they come see me with flowers and chocolate. We ate our sweets, gossiped and had a convivial time. Then, one of them became pensive. "What is it?" I asked.
"Tomorrow's a big day. I'm tense." he said. "What day?" I asked. He looked shocked, no, disgusted. "Which world are you living in? It's India-Pakistan match. World Cup!" he exclaimed and left. My other friend had to persuade him not to unfriend me on Facebook.
I am that lonely Indian person — the cricket un-lover. I don't hate it. It only fills me with a dull and heavy boredom. Once, I remember, cricket happened only occasionally, making your entire family and mohalla unavailable to you. If you fell into a well you would be there for the five days because no one would hear your cries of help over that cricket commentary where the pitch of men's voices mimicked the height of a ball soaring way past the boundary line.
The crowd reacts during the India vs West Indies semi final at Wankhede on Thursday
But now, it seems to me, isn't there a cricket match, like, every day? The cricket un-lover is subject to bullying and meanness. My cousins have tried to force me to watch. I simply close my eyes. My mother has hinted that I might be a changeling. I think one aunt is discussing suing me with her lawyers. Moreover, all cricket lovers are hard of hearing because everyone must watch the match at top volume so that you are alone in a surround sound hell, an un-lover trying to meet deadlines while others shout.
No one in akha India understands or believes the cricket un-lover. You are subject to repeated interrogation: "You don't even like IPL kya?" No. "Then, T20 at least na?" No. No. The answer is always no. But cricket lovers won't leave you alone. Except of course, during matches. Then they will leave you alone to answer the door, the phone, to clear the table as they scurry off after meals. Cricket un-lovers have no dignity and no rights.
If you go on social media, no one will like the baby video you posted, because they are all channeling childhood idols like Lala Amarnath (don't ask) and doing cricket commentary online. Cricket un-lovers have to deal with passive aggressive metaphorical conversation where Dhoni's playing style will be used as a metaphor for organisational approaches. I don't ask for explanations because, well I might receive one and could anything be more boring? I just keep quiet, waiting for it to be over, alone in a crowd. At least, I know who Dhoni is.
Because, for instance, there was this advertisement for watches, which had a super-hot man in it, who always gave me a twinge. One night, India won some big match. All around I could hear people cheer. Tired of feeling left out I put the TV on. Imagine my shock when I saw this man, who till then I thought was a model, was actually a cricketer, Virat Kohli. I know, you're shocked. Yawn.
I admit to a brief, passionate affair with cricket, which somehow coincided with my brief, passionate crush on Imran Khan. I took interest in technique, purchased magazines like Cricket Duniya and briefly felt like one of the crowd. Then he retired, I mourned for a respectable period, then erased all cricket and one-of-the crowd data from my brain. Then Imran Khan made a come back. I felt nothing. I learned, you may not be able to love someone twice. But un-loving twice was very easy indeed.
Paromita Vohra is an award-winning Mumbai-based filmmaker, writer and curator working with fiction and non-fiction. Reach her at www.parodevipictures.com
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