Friday, April 10, 2015

All it took was one match ...

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles
Be it getting up at 4:00 AM to study for the Class VIII Board Exams in the year 1992, or taking a late night break to freshen up for the more important Class XII Board Exams in the year 1996, sneaking a peak at an over or two of the live cricket match being watched by my Daddy Dear in the next room was always a "thrilling" experience. Of course, this was done while requesting him to reduce the decibel levels on the television, even though he was cursing the Board Exam schedule while keeping the television muted. After all, understanding how South Africa's target got changed from 22 runs from 13 balls to 21 runs from 1 ball in a matter of few rain drops was as important as understanding the impact of acid rain on the soil quality in agriculture-based economies, or for that matter the impact the unfortunate rioting "spectacle" at Eden Gardens had on Indian cricket fan's psyche was as historically important as the impact of the Third Battle of Panipat on the subsequent revival of Maratha domination in North India.

Image courtesy of digitalart
Many of us belong to a generation that grew up believing that there exists only one kind of a ball to play and that it weighs between 5 1/2 and 5 3/4 ounces. It was only later, thanks to Google or Wikipedia, we came to realize that many more people play with balls weighing between 14 to 16 ounces and call the game football, and that a large number of countries play with yellow balls weighing around 2 ounces and call the game lawn tennis. By the time CAT, GMAT, TOEFL started becoming important abbreviations in our lives, the game of cricket also started becoming abbreviated to the currently popular version. However, over the years, for many people of the same generation, interest in the game also started going down, primarily because of "too much" of it. For me, when it came to Junior, it reached an extent where I refused to watch a cricket match with him. I would have purchased all kinds of sports accessories in the last 2-3 years, but I refused to introduce him to this game. Bottom-line, I wanted Junior to realize that there are many more varieties of balls in the world of sport.

And dare I say, I was successful for as many as 5 years. He had started understanding the meanings of diving, penalty kick and perhaps even a red card. He knew Daddy likes Messi, but Ronaldo is better because Mumma likes him. He could tell me the scoreline, and could make out which team is winning the game. I think he also figured out that waka waka was a perfect song to make Daddy dance. One of the proudest moments of Daddy's life was the day when Junior threw a tantrum for that florescent green colored football.

Till the time, Star Sports came up with this gem of a campaign for India's first match of 2015 World Cup. My dearie was hooked. The tension, the energy, the wait, the spirit of nationalism ... basically the impact was sufficient for my efforts of 5 years go down the drain. After all, Junior had always seen Mumma so excited only while watching those big cars on the television. Looking at Mumma, he could sense that this was serious business, much more exciting than the El Clásico. Of course, for him the gentle behavior of the crowd watching Saina overpower her Chinese rivals was "boring" to watch, and Federer vs. Nadal in the whites at Wimbledon was too colorless.

Ultimately, my resistance bore no fruit (I even tried emotional blackmail) and the stone wall crumpled. That day, Junior pulled me to his room, all excited, and showed me a sentence written big and bold on his white board - "I love cricket. I don't love football." I couldn't decipher the meaning of the mischievous smile in his eyes. All it took was one match ...