mAvErIck spEAks

Friday, October 28, 2005

Hold your horses before they start galloping

ODI at Nagpur saw the resurrection of the phoenix, of a sort, and yes it is a much over-rated expression. And no I am not being skeptical of Team India’s capability as a fairly good cricket playing team. So what’s the problem in addressing them with hyperbolic adjectives and declaring that Team India has finally chased the ghosts of the past and is now ready to take on the world with renewed confidence and energy - again a sentence embellished with lofty words, which are music to anyone’s ear.

What’s wrong is our psyche, our complacent mentality and our tradition of being judgmental. We live a life, trapped in a day. We don’t want to use our logics. We neither learn from the past nor do we want to believe that tomorrow will be a new day. But time has its pace and tomorrow does come and surprises us, making us chew our hat because we’d been talking too much through our hat in the past.

Why this philosophical discourse and how this has anything to do with Team India? Let me tell you why and how.

Only a few days back, the whole media wasted reams of newspaper, hours of airtime on discussing the pathetic state of our cricket team. Internal politics, bickering between players and coach, washing dirty linens in public, dropped players, meetings, lobbying – we’d seen it all. And then, The Nagpur ODI happens. One day and everything changes. Media splashed pictures of willow power kicking Lankan butts. And over night everything changed. Everybody has the words of praise for Team India. Underdogs became favorites again. It just needs one day to change everything.

But is the theory reliable. What if Mohali sees Indian cats purr against Lankan Tigers, of course not a wishful thinking, but quite possible. After all Lankans too are a good team and better than Team India performance wise, if we see the past records. So my argument is that we must stop judging things instantly. It just takes us one day to make someone a hero and another to raze anyone to dust. We judge on a daily basis, ignoring the past and the future completely. Nagpur was good for Team India – excellent. We all wanted that. Team India badly needed it to regain the confidence. But that’s about it. Nothing more. Nothing less. That was just a good day for team India. Of course they put in efforts to make it happen, but why to shower those with so much of praise that they get neck deep into it and then found themselves either too complacent or too vulnerable to perform. Let them clinch the series and celebration time will roll there after. We have a full season lined up and would get many occasions to worship our heroes and sing songs of praise in their honor. But isn’t it too early for the fireworks to start.

Now in all this there is one man who is at complete loss. And poor soul can’t help it. The former captain, the hero till day before yesterday - the royal Bengal Tiger, The Prince of Kolkata, the most successful cricket captain – no neither this is an article written in defense of Sourav nor I am singing songs of praise like a bard for him. These are the adjectives media had given him when he was still managing the Team India well and winning matches. It is just to express my anguish over poor Dada’s plight today. He would have been happier than anyone when at Nagpur, Team India won the inaugural match, and of course, he would have wanted to jump with joy and who knows, perhaps he did. But he wouldn’t have imagined that this win and the subsequent joy would boomerang on his face.

Radio Mirchi, one FM Radio Station in Delhi ran an opinion poll asking the Janta, that “does the Indian win at Nagpur is the result of Ganguly sitting out?” and to my surprise, the figures had a real sad story to narrate. 21 percent of Delhi opined that, “heck no. that’s no reason”. 18 percent of Delhi said, “What rubbish question” and 61 percent of Delhi asserted that, “Yes. That’s the reason.”

Now the figures here reveal the current mood that Sourav Ganguly is the man behind Team India’s poor performance all these days. But aren’t we forgetting a major change. Tendulakar – yes the master blaster, which was absent from the team and out of form for quite some time, recuperated and is in a kick-ass mode. So that has nothing to do with Ganguly or no Ganguly. Sourav can be sure of his form and his fitness and not of others. We’ve seen intense experimentation in the Team, too, when Ganguly was skipper. Some of them failed, some of them brought changes. After all that’s why they are called experiments, or they would be solutions if they were successful all the time. Sending Pathan quite early was an experiment which thankfully succeeded and I am just not taking the credit out of his fascinating inning as a batsman. So where does the Ganguly come? What magic wand did the coach Greg and the present captain, Dravid wield that Team India suddenly got a profound dose of optimized vigor and confidence that it could beat Sri Lanka. Nothing actually. It was just its will to bounce back. With few good performances and a team spirit thrown in, we see them rock again. And in all this, where does Ganguly come?

Again, coming back to from where it all started, we judge people by just one day. No past. No future. We may see Ganguly resurrect out of ashes and raise like a phoenix and then, perhaps, we’ll have to eat our words again. So isn’t it sane to just wait for a while before either placing someone on the highest mantle or writing off anyone forever.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

From the funeral grounds –

Nine months and my 2nd visit to the funeral ground…16th February, 2005 – Grandmother expired…18th October, 2005 – Grandfather expired…

It was 10.30 in the night, when the news took all of us by a sudden shock that he is no more. Just nine months after my grandmother expired, he chose to leave all of us. It wasn’t actually his choice – in fact no one can ever make a choice, but I would still like to believe that it was his choice…

Obviously, next day was his funeral and if we wanted to attend that, we had to leave for Kanpur, the same night. A cab was called and we all set on a journey – a journey to see off a soul who set on to his last journey.

He was on the main door, as if he was still receiving the visitors and taking care of them personally. He always had pleasure when someone was used to visit him and he took great care to see that he’s been treated well. And as always, even today he received everyone. But today, he couldn’t ask anyone “how are you, son”.

He had satisfaction spread on his face. Eyes were half closed, as if he was looking who all have come to see him off. Few people were gathered around him, weeping and he was smiling – as if he was saying, “why are you weeping”, I am freed today, its time to celebrate.

Somehow I couldn’t go near him. Why…I am still pondering over it. I was in fact one of his favorite grandchildren if not the only one. And still, I couldn’t muster courage to go near him and see him. Or perhaps it’s something else.

He was 85…otherwise healthy but was fighting one ailing disease – the old age. He limped on crutches in his last years because few years back he survived through an accident and since then kept refusing to see the doctor. The result – crutches and my grandmother became his permanent companion for these last years. Grandmother left him nine months before and he didn’t need those crutches on his last journey. There was a pair of crutches lying…no one will ever pick them again.

He was a good man – humble, selfless, respectful...I am not saying so because he was my grandfather but because I had seen these traits in him and admired him for the purity of his soul. His laughter was always heartfelt, selfless, and innocent.

Before placing him on the pyre, my eldest uncle performed rituals. He was bathed with the Ganges water, with the help of his sons and grandsons. When he was alive, he always avoided taking baths and detested the very thought of it, especially in the winters. But today, he couldn’t complain. He was bathing for the last time. A new pair of clothes was put on him. He was fond of new clothes.

I was still around and still wasn’t crying. Not a sliver of grief in my mind. Everything was so mechanical. Rituals finished, it was time for cremation. In a little while, he was engulfed by eternal fire and I couldn’t see anything but flames hugging his body. I was still emotionless and I was definitely not ok with it. I started suspecting my emotional quotient. Whether I was getting emotionally numb or my sentiments are dead.

“You too will have to do that one day”, my father’s voice caught me from behind and I immediately answered, “Everyone has to do it”. And there a tear rolled down my cheeks. I was sobbing .Thanks Dad, you helped me again.