You might wonder what makes this post different to the others you read about people worshipping cricket above all else. It’s a religion, they say (and they are not wrong). As for what it means to an Indian, as the age old adage goes – If you are Indian, you just have to ‘Bleed Blue’.
My love for this sport however, runs a bit deeper, it is more emotional and more personal as well, all of these reasons combining to make this post a bit different.
Every good story begins with setting the scene. Mine goes back in time to a breezy summer evening when I was 10 years old. The aroma of freshly-brewed filter coffee was wafting in our home. Appa (you can insert any term of endearment that you have used for your own father here) was sitting in an armchair, watching a cricket match in which India was chasing (but of course!).
Strange enough, the memory of who India was playing against eludes me though I know it won that game. My innocent mind, at the time seems to have only registered moments of this story that I grew up to preserve, discarding everything that was deemed unimportant. I was asking Appa all the questions any child would ask, especially while said parent sat glued to the TV screen.
“What makes it four runs ?”
“Why is that six and not four”?
“Why is he walking back?”
“What does the umpire do?”
In short, all of those silly things you’d assume every cricket mad Indian just knows. I clearly didn’t understand anything about the game and couldn’t fathom why Appa was getting so animated about it either. What I didn’t realise at the time was that over the course of the next 40 minutes or so, I’d come to love it too.
There are two ways this story could have ended.
I could have been in tears because Appa had told me off for interrupting what clearly was a very important match. Or, the way because of which I write this blog.
Over the course of those 40 odd minutes, Appa started to teach me everything he could teach a child about cricket. He answered all of my questions, however silly they were, with patience. Needless to say, I had a very big list!
He explained the basics of the game, he taught me the difference between off-side and leg-side (which, by the way, I still get confused about sometimes) and also about the many different ways a batsman can get out. He cemented in me the love for the sport that has made me what I am today – this highly patriotic, cricket crazy fan who will travel the world given the slightest chance to see India play.
Like I said earlier, there are a million different reasons why we have come to love this game as a country, but mine will always be because Appa taught his tiny little daughter everything about cricket. He decided that it was important to answer a curious mind’s questions with all the patience in the world at the time rather than choosing to say ‘maybe later’.
He didn’t know — actually, he still doesn’t know — that my mind was registering those moments.
It is so true when they say children remember the smallest most insignificant things you’d think wouldn’t capture their minds – they do. Some of them, like me, will grow up to write about these seemingly routine, but deeply impactful, moments that makes them the persons they are today.
Personally for me, of all the stories I will tell the next generation, this will be in the top five.