Partition of India divided people with a tremendous capability for negative influence on coming generations. Living on both the sides of a divider, tearing apart the country on the religious lines; it became a nightmare for many. Generations are being consumed by mutual hate and unfavorable mindset that keep both the countries on a love-hate relationship, more for hate than love. A seed of resentment was sowed deep with the seed of segregation, it sprouted into mutual mistrust and suspicion; making the younger generation see legendary leaders as partners in the crime and partition as a state of betrayal. "There is no answer for questions, who killed India or who partitioned it. The wonder and the tragedy for India is to be killed by its own children." The violence, cruelty, bloodshed, displacement and massacre resulted in anger and anguish that remained not like a scar but scab, with every scratch it continues to bleed. Unconsciously, India could never heal the wound of partition and Pakistan never overcame the guilt it involved, both remain separated mentally forever. The arch rival relations between the two opponents with an unfavorable residue of Kashmir conflict created an intense sporting rivalry as well, the two nations who otherwise shared a common cricketing history and heritage became worst enemies on cricket grounds. The seditionists in the line of cricket have made the game of cricket a war in the battlefield associating a victory with the national pride and defeat with utter disgrace for its people.
In fall and winter months cricket matches would add aspect and essence to otherwise low and pensive days, it had a thermal effect. Games in earlier days were strictly gender- specific and cricket was considered altogether a men's game, strictly prohibited for girls, but for me playing with my brothers on our home pitch was not a big deal. The courtyard would become our cricket field and with a limited number of players from the neighborhood, we would roll the pitch and try to make an even and flat surface, removing stones and pebbles with bare hands. I would ignore mother's occasional reminders warning me about my gender- deficit tragedy and promise her all difficult domestic chores in return. It was not all about playing the game, our generation was in the grip of cricket commentary mania, addicted to voices of Omar Kureishi, Jamsheed Marker, and Lala Amarnath. We would follow the game ball by ball, over after over, visualizing fielding spots from square leg to third man, and differentiating bouncers from beamers and good length balls from short deliveries.
I have yet to establish a connection between the game of cricket and fish curry that seems distant but was a routine followed happily during seasonal cricket matches played by rival teams. My father and his friend Prithvi Nath Raina would leave with our helper Noor-ud-din to buy fresh- water fish and bundles of crunchy lotus stems sold by brazen but alluring fisher- women in a narrow lane near Habba Kadal. In falling snow, like two snowboarders, wearing wooden sleepers two friends would share a single umbrella and proceed for the adventure. The process at home would begin with the opening of packets of sun-dried vegetables kept and wrapped neatly in the white muslin cloth, soon the atmosphere would turn delicious with the appetizing aroma from the boiling Fenugreek leaves. My mother would engage me in the process and detail of traditional fish cuisine, from the selection of special kind of wood, hatab to the picking of herbs and spice used to prepare a mouthwatering meal. Cooking fish was a two- day affair, followed by three- day replenishment with taste enhancement day after day, the herbs and spice would blend till the last morsel, so would the five- day cricket match.
The tense moments between Raina and Malik would start with the winning of toss and remain for five days. It was not always with India and Pakistan test- series but it included matches played by both teams with England, Australia, New Zeland and West Indies, preferences and loyalty- terms of two friends would change with the need, order and demand of the situation. Turning next door neighbors into silent rival spectators of the game the entire nature of sincere friendship would change. Raina would pull the folded brim of his skull cap on the face to hide his displeasure at every four that led to all those double and triple centuries from little master Hanif Muhammad, Malik would shut the small opening of the window but watch Raina through its apertures on every ruthless ball from Chandu Borde. Both would carry a harmless meanness and hide close-fittedness under their phirons. The only relief for two friends was a match that ended in a drawn game. With no loss no gain, in their state of affairs snow and fish would look and taste better in a win- win situation.
Passing by the University road-end had become a routine for me. With Omer Kureishi's comments on tension-led balls from bowlers from the university road- end, I had conceived the field in Kashmir and visualized it now in Karachi from a little distance, it was fun to look at it. In a jam- packed bus, we would often discuss game and players. Girls were more interested in players than in the game of cricket. Amazingly all of them were bold by the most attractive, right- hand batsman Javaid Burki. Tall and handsome Burki was liked more for his looks than substance and element in his game. With his aunt, Shaukat Khanum Burki, the genetic endowment of Burki family had the game and good looks in blood and Javed had inherited it in abundance. To continue with the endowment, Khanum, from Burki Pashtun tribe a little later gave the world of cricket a name to reckon on, the ever dashing cricketer, stylish and smart, Imran Khan.