Cricket has been the one sport that everyone in the family follows religiously.Including the women-folk...well,especially the women-folk!
My maternal grandmother is a huge cricket buff.And her favorite cricketer of all times is...hold your horses...none other than Imran Khan!Every time there was an India-Pakistan match on,the tension in my grandparent's house was apparent to everyone who cared to notice.Here we all were,egging India on and hoping that they would scamper home with a victory,some of us praying,some of us getting super-superstitious(we once banished my mother into the kitchen for one whole hour because the moment she entered the kitchen,one of the Pak batsmen got out!) and some of us screaming our throats hoarse,some of us(especially my thatha) narrating cricket-stories from his days and some of us just soaking it all in!And then there was my ajji...she stood for everything that went against what the rest of the family believed in,in terms of cricket!She loudly and unabashedly cheered the Pak team on and would literally swoon every single time Imran Khan came onto bowl.She was in love with the man and still is!My thatha would glare at her every time she said something nice about our opponents,especially when his brothers were over!She made all of us look really bad I tell you!
The atmosphere in my parent's house was equally charged up.My mother and I were very vociferous in expressing our feelings and would love to crank up the volume to listen to the commentary.My father on the other hand,preferred to watch the match for the love of the game and with dignity and in peace and quiet.Every now and then,he would say "Appi,volume solpa kammi maadu"(yes,thats what he calls me.Get over it,already.).Mother and I would exchange glances and I would pretend to reduce the volume.Or I would just say "Hoon anna,hoon" and continue to watch the match.Or sometimes I would pretend I didn't even hear him in the first place!The players would break for lunch and so would we.In that 45 minutes,we simply had to and I mean had to be done with our lunch and whatever other chore that was there.(including restroom visits).
But the most fun I have had is whenever I watched cricket matches with my cousin ,Soms.She and I were born exactly 6 days apart and we are quite close and possess the same mad streak.And I kid you not when I say that every single time we watched an India match together,India always won.We watched that particular test match at her parent's place when Kumble picked up all 10 wickets in an innings and took India to victory.We watched that one-day match together at my parent's house when India successfully chased a target of 316 against Pakistan in Dhaka.
This particular day,what happened was,all of a sudden in the 45th over of India's innings,our cable went kaput.So Soms and I ran out of the house and ran all the way to my friend S's place which was in the adjacent street and stormed into their living room and plopped ourselves on the couch.We saw the TV screen and Soms says to me,"Sadhya,yerde-yerdu(2) balls miss maadkondvi"(thank god,we missed just two balls).The last two balls of the over were bowled and it was time for a commercial break.Only then did we realize that we were in S's house,in their living room,amidst 8 of her relatives none of whom I had ever met and that all of them including S's parents had no fricking idea who Soms was and that they were all staring at the two of us with their mouths wide open(literally)!I realized it was time for me to explain our actions to the shocked group,but by then the commercial was over and Soms says,"shhhhhhhh....match start aythu"(match started).And everyone obediently turned their attention back to the match.
I over heard S's dad whispering to her mom "I know who ILoveLucy is,but who is this other girl with her?I have never seen her before and she is commanding silence in our house so that she can watch the match!"
And that is the extent of our cricket-craziness!!!
When we finally won that day,Soms and I yelled and screamed and did an impromptu Zulu jig all over the living room and S and some of her bewildered relatives actually joined in!S's dad still had that perplexed expression on his face as he went out to walk their dog,Pinky.