Yesterday was the India-Pakistan Cricket match which was nothing less than a war. The tension was all around and palpable – streets deserted, offices empty, all appointments cancelled, stadium tickets at unbelievable prices and some even willing to pledge their organs to get to see the match!
Is this sports?
The match was between two all-time arch-rivals, which wasworth the bucks that were at stake. What is it that makes the two nations such strong adversaries? Till a few decades back we were a single nation with a single objective and similar outlook. The colonial past can be blamed for the strife, but if more than six decades have not got us together, then probably nothing will. What makes this animosity so strange? Is there a parallel so similar?
A similar strife can be found in the Roman history, between Athens and Sparta. Athens and Sparta were both Greek cities and their people spoke a common language. Athens was a city of busy trade. Sparta was an armed camp where people were soldiers for the sake of being soldiers. The people of Athens loved to sit in the sun and discuss poetry or listen to the wise words of a philosopher. The Spartans, on the other hand, never wrote a single line that was considered literature, but they knew how to fight, they liked to fight, and they sacrificed all human emotions to their ideal of military preparedness. Athenian life was a creative wonderland. Spartan life was simple. The focus was on obedience and war.
Both the nations had lots to join hands for, but the friendship did not last as a sense of insecurity overtook each soon. This led to conflicts and battles and ironically, in their quest for power over Greece, the two city-states caused each other's demise.
Another very significant example can be the enmity between the Pandavas and the Kauravas in the famous epic Mahabharata. Both belonged to the same ancestors, with no differences whatsoever, but were at logger-heads on everything from sharing of parental emotions to sharing of titles and land. Nothing could get them together, except a war. The final battle left nothing to covet, except a huge burden of guilt and an emptiness which was regrettable.
Yesterday’s intense tension and the build-up during the last few days belied all the feeble attempts to shake hands both in the name of sports and culture that the two nations were supposedly making. Be it at the levels of leadership and bureaucracy or at the grounds level, the animosity seems to be irreversible.
At the end of it all, I simply hope that the end is not similar to the Greek example or the Mahabharata example. A rank optimist will tell you that it’s never too late to make a fresh beginning, and if I were to toe the same line, then I would repeat the same.
Let a game remain so and let us not transform a stadium into a battleground. Don’t use such platforms for expressing patriotic emotions, and don’t make such simple sporting events into a do-or-die event. Individual emotional burdens cannot be offloaded on the national cricket team.
Saying ‘tathastu’ or ‘inshallah’ is up to you!