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     Volume 4 Issue 5 | July 23, 2004 |

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of It All

Ruzan Sarwar

My mother. What a character! Once a television actress here in Dhaka, she has the personality and flamboyance of Goldie Hawn on acid. A large part of this raging flamboyance centres around her passion for cricket. For as long as I can remember, my mother has loved the sport. However, I only came to notice her mini-obsession in 1999, when South Africa toured Sri Lanka in the summer. It was the first cricket match that was televised live, for my family and I lived in Saudi Arabia then. I remember her waking up at the crack of dawn to press the record button on our VCR so that she would not miss a single minute of the action. As they say, old habits die hard, and this habit is alive and kicking, so to speak, within my mother's character.

My mother's behaviour is definitely not out of the ordinary. Every time I turn around, someone is talking about cricket, be it my uncles or aunts or friends or a rickshawallah going past me on the street. I believe a wholehearted zeal of this sort for cricket is a Sub-continental thing, though my father was never as passionate about the sport. Nevertheless, it is not a surprise to see why it is so popular. Cricket transcends socio-economic barriers, as most sports do. From the richest businessman to the poorest beggar in the country know and love a sport that sparks so much passion in the hearts of Bangladeshis that a national holiday of sorts is declared every time Bangladesh wins a match (though it has to be said that winning is a rare occurrence). Cricket is even used as a tool to induce peace, in the case of Pakistan and India. You name it, cricket does it.

Nowadays, in the age of the Internet and high-speed connections, cricket-lovers all over the world are able to spend hours at a time browsing the web for the latest information on their favourite player, without tying up phone lines. I have seen evidence of the endless browsing first hand. Ma (as I call her) is addicted to websites that include CricInfo as well as numerous others. She sits in front of the computer for hours at a time pouring over the latest cricket gossip. The message boards are a favourite of hers. There are times when I have to drag her away from the monitor, while she is kicking and screaming. It is at times like these I believe myself to be the mother and she is the stubborn, rebellious teenager. I wonder to myself, how did the roles get switched so easily? With cricket, that's how!

But how can I say that this passion for cricket is bad? When I see my mother's eyes shining face because her favourite team has won, or because we have tickets to a game, I realise how much of a good thing this passion can be. The idealism cricket brings is especially seen in a country where most of the people have little to celebrate being deprived of even the most basic needs. Constantly keeping up high spirits is not always feasible. Cricket provides somewhat of a relief for these people, even if that relief is fleeting. The weariness that comes from daily toil is forgotten for a while. And, at the best of times, cricket bestows 6-8 hours of wonderful, blissful entertainment.

If you asked me five years ago whether I watched cricket or not, I would have vehemently denied it. My complaints were the usual: too long, too complicated, too boring. But, with an extended family completely engrossed in the game (an uncle of mine zealously plays for a sports club), I decided to follow the old mantra,-- "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em." I will probably never enjoy cricket as much as my mother does, but I am fond of it. Goldie-Hawn-on-acid's infectiousness strikes again.


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