The psyche of a Pakistani cricket fan and the shameless vanity of passion
To understand the psyche of a Pakistani, you first have to understand what it means to love and hate at the same time. This is not semantics. It is truly a reality. To understand the degree of pain our hearts have already endured, you have to understand the depth of hope our hearts are still willing to go to. Finally, if you want to understand the paradox that is Pakistan, you will have to take the leap of faith and understand that one cricket field with a few men in green has the capacity to undo more mental damage than all the prayers your hearts can make.
Being a Pakistani cricket fan is not for the weak at heart. It never has been. Like an old man suffering from dementia, Pakistani cricket will tease you with a look of normality, smile at you with warmth and respond to you with all the hints of sound and reason. However, only the foolish will fall for such fabrications. In fact, it is in the sheer destruction of anything that is structured and sound, that the wrath of the Pakistani crescent and star rips its way into our hearts.
We know. Yes, we Pakistani’s all know one particular thing:
Take the controversies out.
Take the drama out.
Take the money out.
All of those characteristics have their place in some form or the other.
However, when we play, ultimately, we play for one thing – passion. It’s in every ball we play. We win passionately and we lose even more passionately. Like the lover, whom you could kill with your own bare hands yet couldn’t imagine a minute of life without, Pakistani cricket demands every second of our attention for better or worse.
We, the Pakistani fans, have accepted our fate of endless commitment to our lover, unsure if she will ever reciprocate the same love back to us. Yet, we know passion seeps through her veins and so we hold on. We hold on in hope that, like kerosene to a flame, the passion ignites its way into a moment of perfect illumination. We know that the high of that moment, albeit temporarily, will remind us, and indeed the rest of the world once again, what it means to play like nothing like else matters. Indeed, like what it means to play simply for the benefit of making magic from a bat and ball.
When the dust settles on all of the corporatisation that is cricket today, we Pakistanis come back to our gulleys and our parking lots, or any place we can find a makeshift pitch, and we play cricket.
We play cricket because it makes us happy.
We play cricket because we have to.
We play cricket because we know no one can ever take it from us.
For us, this tournament is for a prize far greater than a cup. It is a statement of intent. We know that we might not win, but that isn’t the point. The real point is that we will never lose. Not on the cricket ground, not on any ground. We are fighting for it all. This is our very own metaphor playing itself out in the physical form.
For all of the incredibly tough scenarios Pakistan has had to go through in recent years, ranging from politics to terrorism to natural disasters all the way to cricket itself being torn away from our borders, we have an incredibly contagious disease generously diffused across our people – hope. And for now, the hopes of a 180 million people are all being channelled through the eyes of a few men in green on a pitch in Bangladesh.
So let’s sit back and watch. Unless of course you are a heart patient, in which case it is advisable to pop a few pills of Valium, and just wait for the headlines on the newspapers the following day.