Cricket fever has once again drawn the old splitting friends of downtown together. The silent and swift information technology sneak into the day to day routines and the hectic life patterns have taken away the past camaraderie and cohesiveness of downtown window-buddies and female river-bank acquaintances. But every season the Cricket, in one form or the other, bring them back to glue around a common screen which in recent times has changed from bigger boxes to slim wide LED screens and too often to 5 inch hand screens. This game has always fascinated the minds across all ages in the valley especially when the game is between India and Pakistan. This is more because the game is treated as a small expression of conflict between these two countries bringing out results only in few hours or at the most in few days. The old pent up emotions of historical importance have associated this game dramatically with the long drawn conflict that the valleites since long have been into.
Some days back, before the start of India Vs Pakistan T-20 match, Sir John 'Jani' and his friend entered into a bet where Jani's friend was to serve Jani dinner in one of the leading restaurants incase India wins and Jani would be doing the vice verse. Jani is considered among his friends the die-hard fan of Pakistani team and this time, against his known emotions, Jani has opted for India's victory. Jani's friends were surprised on Jani's shift in loyalty and asked him for the reasons. Jani replied with a smirking smile, look friends, Indian team has always been thrashing Pakistani team in the field and I have lost most of my money and energy on this unpredictable team. This time over I dedicate one more dinner to my friend with a hope that they win and I lose. I pray for their victory and as a token of my love for the team, will offer this dinner to my friend in case they win. I am disassociating myself from the team for their good luck. I tell you! As long as we align with them they cannot win. We are born with a curse and it befalls upon those whom we associate with. Have you forgotten Kanahiya Kumar. He had to face the wrath of collective conscience and found himself behind the bars just for empathizing with us. And when he distanced himself from us, he became the hero. The politicians who talk about removal of AFPSA find themselves out of power. Those who raise their voice for our day to day issues are termed anti-nationals. Those who give shelter to Kashmiri students outside the valley are summoned to police stations. The media channels who give right space to our concerns lose their TRP and those who bash us earn the top slots. Those who seek relief for the victims of flood have to die harping till the last breath, 'Has the relief been released?'. Those who demand adherence to 'agenda of alliance' and CBM's have to cry hoarse for two months and then have to revert to everything and anything that happened to be there two months back. Even India and Pakistan are at loggerheads since independence because of us. We are a divinely cursed lot and even our shadow is a misfortune for those who come under it. This team too comes under the eclipse of our Jinx because of our claps and shouts in their favor. So better be away from them.
When the game started, with it started the beating of hearts. Beating of the Pakistani team with every beat of heart lasted till the end. It was nerve wrenching, Jani was drawing pale with every ball. On one side all sympathies went for Afridi for having no cooperation from his team and his own luck and on the other envious sighs went out for Kohli.
Jani, with his wide open eyes did not even blink all through the match, biting his nails, grimaced forehead with the frown of bitterness precisely displayed on his facial lines. In the end Jani, having won the bet was offered his hard earned dinner. But Jani was disgusted. He was disgusted with his own feelings for the team, for which he hated himself. He was disgusted with Afridi and his team. Jani, left with the broken heart, hiding the tears exuding from his eyes.
Jani's heartbroken tears in the eyes turned into tears welling out of his emotional excitement when he heard Afridi saying, 'the support his team got in India was from Kashmiri'. Jani could not believe someone, for the first time, actually recognizing his pain and joy with the pain and joy of this team. Forgetting all bitterness for him and his team, Jani burst out crying, "Balaya ha lagai 'lala".