My Heart may Bleed, but It still Bleeds GREEN!
By Farah Zahidi Moazzam
It’s over. Pakistan has lost the semi-final to India. The crazy euphoria of a nation of cricket-lovers has come to a standstill. The silence is deafening. The dejection on everyone’s face is simply disappointing. After all, a match between India and Pakistan somehow, always assumes proportions that make it more than ‘just a game’.
Yes, it is just a game. But not to Pakistanis, especially today. The nation, locally as well as internationally, has more than enough negative tags that go along with its name. We fight battles like poverty, bad and corrupt governance, inflation and above everything else, terrorism.
And so, the nation needed hope, success and something with which we could say to the world, ‘Hey, we are no less. We are resilient. We are winners. We have what it takes’.
I am not a huge cricket buff. But I am a crazy Pakistan buff. With every breath, like the 180 million of us, I prayed that we win. I prayed that I see that cup come home. The excitement and zest on everyone’s faces was celebration in itself. The green flag – on T-shirts, on Facebook profile pictures, painted on faces, etched on our hearts. Songs of valor blaring everywhere. A holiday announced on March 30.
The men in green inevitably became our saviors of hope. We pinned ALL our hopes on them. Our patriotism reached mammoth proportions. We, for a bit, forgot all our disagreements and united in one jazba. One dream.
Everywhere, literally, all we could think or talk or breath about was this match. Libya’s woes and international crisis took a back seat, and the media was full of nothing else but this. The media hype gained crazy proportions. And this is not to blame the media, because the media feeds us what we want to be fed. The pressure on both teams mounted, as India’s media was not less obsessed with what was being called TGME (The Greatest Match Ever).
We had hopes and fears for our team, but we had more at stake than just the ICC Cricket World Cup 2011. We shuddered to even think of losing this match. We all knew that even with its brilliant performance against Australia and West Indies, Pakistan was an underdog team. But anything could happen. Unpredictability is not just an attribute of the Pakistani team, it is an attribute of the game itself. And so Shahid Afrdi, or Lala as we lovingly call him, and his boys became our most throbbing hope, as if winning this match would pull us out of all the bad that happens to us. For the Pakistanis living abroad, they yearned for the win to be able to tell their colleagues and friends at work that things were looking up for Pakistan.
All this is completely understandable. Totally acceptable. But what is not understandable or acceptable is how quickly our heroes become our villains. How quickly, once they lost, they become ‘losers’ from ‘champions’. Instantly, as the match progressed dismally for Pakistan, conspiracy theories started flowing out of minds with overactive imaginations. Match fixing. Bribery. Deals. Politics. Indo-Pak foreign policy. Water supply to Pakistan. The speculations were never ending, and with such certainty as if the under-handed deals had been dealt in front of those very eyes. Derogatory remarks and jokes in bad taste about the players started being exchanged.
Yes, this match had serious issues. Mistakes and several bad decisions were made. But the truth is that the Pakistani cricket team exceeded our expectations, reached the semi-finals and is the third best team in the world. We represented Pakistan wonderfully the world over. Captain Afridi’s encouraging pat on Sachin Tendulkar’s back spoke volumes – it was magnanimity at its best. It made me extremely proud to have someone like him represent the team. The humility of the team, and the sight Pakistan’s leading wicket-taker Wahab Riaz falling on to the ground in prostration for gratitude was a sight both humbling yet awe-inspiring.
The last thing Pakistan needs right now is negativity. On a positive note, an overwhelming number of people are acting sane, mature and most importantly, loyal to the team in spite of all of this. We lost the match. We are disappointed. We are hurt. A dream is shattered. But Pakistanis are too resilient a nation to be bogged down by this. Lala, my captain, you do not need to apologize. You and the team did a great job and we are proud of you. There will be other times when the match will be ours. This one was India’s. We will stand by you not just in good times, but in bad times too. We may be hurt, but we have not lost faith in our cricket team, and more importantly, in our nation. We will bounce back. We always do. – Courtesy Dawn