“Two tickets to the World Cup,” called the girl, and then it all began.
Before, it was a circus, with the ringmaster cracking her whiteboard duster whip, screaming for order, and the animals refusing to obey commands. The elephants would not climb onto each other's shoulders, the lions would not leap through the rings of fire, and the clowns were telling all the wrong jokes. The band played no particular song, just went about producing as much deafening noise as possible, cymbals crashing, drums a-thunder. It was madness but it was a restrained sort of madness, for the grey and white uniform-clad beasts knew the punishments the ringmaster could deliver.
But then the girl spoke and the last vestiges of restraint broke down. The circus tent crashed, the beasts donned lungis, and the ringmaster herself joined the chaos. It had turned into a fish market. A Bangladeshi fish market.
The girl looked smug, calm and inscrutable, as any good auctioneer would, but she was the only one. The rest were rabid; wild eyes and frothing mouths, they shouted offers and nearly fell at her feet in desperation. They knew nothing of discretion and the quiet gestures normal bidders made. And anyway, a subtle nod, a raised eyebrow, would be as much use in this riot as the teacher's whip-cracking had been before.
“Seven hundred,” yelled the teacher. The girl shook her head pityingly and looked round for a better offer.
“One thousand,” screeched someone else. She still didn't look too impressed.
“One thousand? One thousand?” The offers rose by hundreds.
“Two thousand,” a call came, finally, from across the room. The smile began to appear.
“Two thousand? Is it going? A chance to see the boys live! Would you miss it?”
“Three thousand,” someone shouted. The smile widened. She looked uncannily like a spider, spinning a sticky web, and reeling in the juicy flies. She turned back to the teacher.
“Miss, the ICC Cricket World Cup. A once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. How can you turn it down?” The fantasies were already floating in the woman's eyes. She took off her glasses and polished them slowly on her dupatta, imagining Shakib Al Hasan blowing her a kiss as she cheered for him from the stands. He would fall in love with her and they would get married, and they would have twelve children who would comprise the entirety of the future cricket team. She forgot, momentarily, her paunch and sagging skin, and, indeed, her husband of fifteen years.
“Five thousand,” she declared grandly, and the girl's eyes glittered.
“Any other offers? Apparently they're giving out signed balls at the end.”
“Six thousand.” It was going well. Her profits would be vast.
“Six thousand, one hundred.”
“C'mon, dude, didn't I treat you to lunch the other day?”
“Hey, we've been best friends forever, give them to me.”
“By the way, guys,” the girl interrupted. “This is six thousand, one hundred, separately for each one.”
There were cries of protest, but not too loud, and not too many, because this was to watch the Bangladeshi cricket team, the Tigers, the stars who had once beaten Australia (and once lost to Ireland, but that was easily forgotten).
The price was settled, in the end, at six and a half thousand.
“Going, going, gone,” called the girl, and the mob calmed down, despair lining each individual's face as they considered their shattered dreams. Now they would not be able to watch a leather ball be thrown, hit with a piece of wood and caught, and they had saved thirteen thousand taka. Such a shame.
Batting the Perfect Six
With the ICC World Cup only a few hours away, this end of the world is in an exuberant frenzy. Cricket lovers around the globe have either collected tickets or fixed their TVs to catch every ball that toys, teases or smacks those coveted wooden sticks. It's not surprising our country - one of the proud hosts of one of the most important events in the alley of sports - is also getting busier. Last minute preparations are flatteringly on display and every institution is making a cut from the occasion.
It is further not surprising that we - being far sighted, a quality for which we are given less credit than we deserve - have made the most unexpected yet clever use of this season of cricket. Well, some more than others.
6. Travel Agents
4. Dhandabaaj Public
1. Corporate Buddies
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