Home   |  Issues  |  The Daily Star Home | Thursday, August 18, 2011


Laughter, Joke and Other Things

By Kazim Ibn Sadique

So, England has been toying with India in the ongoing Pataudi Trophy. The English bowlers have rained fire and the mighty Indian batting line up has crumbled and the dust scattered to the four winds. On the other hand, the sometimes slow, yet stoic and steady English batsmen have piled up mountains of runs. Indian fans hoped that the team would come around, because if there ever was a team to climb such mountains, this interesting mix of raw power hitters and classy touch batsmen would be it.

“Heh!” said the English pacers. Broad, Bresnan, Anderson, and during the first test, Tremlett tore down everything in their path. Broad's bowling was exceptionally beautiful throughout the series. Graeme Swann and Harbhajan Singh, supposedly two of the best spinners still in the game, grabbed six wickets between them, Swann having played all three matches and Harbhajan the first two.

A special mention goes out to Mr Virender Sehwag. He was called in as the heavy cavalry. He was supposed to smash the English pace machine to bits. During the third test at Edgbaston, he got out first ball to Broad. It was understandable. Short ball, moved off the seam and just clipped his gloves as he was leaving it. Things happen. Second innings, India trailing by 486 runs. First ball faced by Sehwag. Anderson bowls a typical away moving delivery outside off stump. Sehwag flashes at it, Bangladeshi-style, with little foot movement and gets caught at slip, becoming the 13th player in Test cricket history to acquire a King Pair, out first ball in both innings of a test match. Among his poor companions are two names that jump at you. The first is Adam Gilchrist. The second, Javed Omar of Bangladesh.

You know what? Enough of laughing at some other team's misfortune. Supporting a team can't be rationalised most of the time. You support a team because they mean something, or because you relate to them and they represent something. This is why most of us support Bangladesh. It's a representative of our country. It's the bearer of our flag. We are the underdogs. It's the team after our hearts.

This is why, despite countless losses, we kept supporting the Tigers. Three Test wins and sixty defeats, most of them innings defeats like India had a few days ago. Ten years and still we are harping on and on about the learning curve. Our batsmen are still immature little children and our bowlers apparently can't go beyond 85mph. Will things never improve?

And the answer to that particular question is possessed by, of all people, Zimbabwe. Here's a team that has seen everything: lost the cream of their talent, got handed untested rookies, went on exile for six years and yet came back with everything clicking into place. Learning curve? Look at these guys! As this article is being written, Zimbabwe are currently at 177/2 after 41 overs, having lost both openers for 39. Did they crumble? No, they saved their innings and are moving towards a fighting total. And this isn't a fluke. They've done this time and again throughout the series. This from a team who hasn't played for six years! You want to blame Bangladesh's disastrous test on not playing for 14 months? Seriously?!

But like we said, we don't support the team because we want results. We want to show the world that we can play good cricket. When Rafique gave Umar Gul a warning instead of running him out at Multan, we swelled with pride. We wanted to win, fair and square, with honour. A stupid stance, some may say, as nearly eight years after that match, we still haven't won a single test against a full strength team, other than Zimbabwe, and that too versus the “rookies” who are currently crushing us at Harare.

So it was surprising when Tamim called Brian Vitori “ordinary”, who decided to kick the words back in his teeth with record breaking performances. As Brendan Taylor says, "We always get negative comments from the Bangladesh side and that inspires us." It makes us wonder what is happening. Remember David Hookes, remember Boycott, remember Sehwag, how we despised their snide comments? How it got our blood boiling? We were angry, because we felt they had little respect for other teams. But now though, what has happened to our team? Have they shifted into the villainous, snobbish mould that we raged against? What have we ever achieved that we are looking down on Zimbabwe?

My friend Sakeb from the Sports section talked about how he's supporting Zimbabwe for this match on Tuesday. A large part of me wants to join him.

Last week our topic was 'Asphalt'. Quite a few entries stood out, either for the twist in their stories, the sense of humour or the vivid display of emotions. The entry below, on the other hand, was chosen for its sheer simplicity and the way it portrays the story behind the struggle we witness and ignore every day and just how easy it is to make someone just a little bit better off and a little bit happy. For next week our topic is 'Juggernaut'. Submissions need to be sent in to ds.risingstars@gmail.com before Sunday noon and have to be within 500 words. Go crazy!


By Sayema S. Hossain

Please Sir, would you take a flower? Please sir take a flower, Sir plea…” she is cut off as the traffic light turns green and the car zips away. No matter. She was only speaking to a rolled up window after all. There's no real disappointment in her as she hops between cars, back to the side of the road. It was a daily routine. As was the hard, hot, asphalt scraping her bare blistered feet. It is an unkind thing, the asphalt. But she doesn't have the money to buy sandals. She doesn't even have the money to buy food.

She sits down on the divider. Its late afternoon and she's hungry. So very hungry. She fiddles with her flowers thinking how she hasn't sold a single one today. And how she won't be able to either. The flowers had become all wilted and browned. Moreover, nobody in the capital had the time, love or sympathy to care about some useless street urchin. It is true, that unlike some of her fellow urchins she didn't have the burden of younger siblings to feed. But she's 11. And she has herself to feed. She knows if she can't sell anything today she can't eat, and she can't buy flowers for tomorrow. It was a cruel cycle.

The light turns red once again. She stands up, preparing herself to get shooed away from every car. It is futile, she knows. But she has to try at least. She makes her way over to a silver car. It looks new. She goes half-heartedly up to the front passenger seat and seeing a wealthy-looking woman, knocks on the window. “Ma'am would you like a flower?” The woman doesn't even glance. She just continues to stare ahead. A usual reaction from the rich, the girl thinks as she turns away.

The back window of the adjacent car rolls down. Inside is a boy in his late teens. All suited up. He calls her forward and holds out a 1000 taka note. She stares for a few seconds before taking it with her trembling hands. A smile lights up her face and she hastily offers him her flowers. He smiles at her and she suddenly feels embarrassed that she has nothing better to offer him. He takes a flower as the light turns green. Then, the car zooms away.

She scurries off the road onto the footpath and looks down at her hands. In one is a 1000 taka note. In the other, wilted brown flowers. She smiles weakly and throws the flowers onto the busy road, watching as they get crushed into the ground. She won't need them anymore. Not today at least. She looks at the remains of the flowers in the cruel, hard asphalt one last time before she walks away thinking about how tomorrow she would have hope. And sandals.



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