I suffer from a curious condition that affects possibly one in a million Indians. I call it cricket phobia and it is characterized by a marked aversion to watching cricket matches. In an IPL crazy country like India, this is something that borders on sacrilege. I have perhaps the unique distinction in my motherland of being the only 22-year-old who has never watched a complete cricket match on television. I remember the tiffin breaks in school when all of us would be eating peacefully. Suddenly, some dolt would exclaim breathlessly, “Did you see X’s catch yesterday? Wasn’t that something?” Before you could say ‘boring’, the entire group would have launched into a frenzied discussion on the highlights of that match. That was my cue to silently steal away like an outcast or else risk slipping into a coma in the next 10 seconds.
A few of my close friends worried about me. “It’s not normal to not like watching matches,” one said in a hushed voice, “What will people think?” “Come, we’ll watch the next one together and you’ll discover you love it!” suggested another enthusiastically. I agreed, and the next day a few of us gathered at his place. We switched on the TV set and after what seemed like an hour, I blurted out, “The match is going nowhere! I can’t take this boredom anymore, somebody change channels!” Four surprised pairs of eyes turned towards me. “We’ve been sitting for two minutes and all that has happened is the coin toss. The match hasn’t started yet.” I sank back into the sofa, defeated. I tried so hard. I kept telling myself that watching 15 people stand aimlessly on a patch of green grass was breathtaking fun. I repressed the urge to hurl the popcorn bowl at the TV screen when they showed the slow-motion action replay of Sachin hitting a sixer for the twenty-seventh time. I nodded my head sagely when the commentator talked about ‘technique’ and ‘tactics’. “I really am enjoying myself,” I lied to the friend sitting closest to me. “That part when those two boys sped away on a motorcycle was really a make-or-break moment for our team, wasn’t it?” “That was a bike commercial,” he replied without smiling. The match must have gone on for a couple of hours. I wouldn’t know. I fell asleep after the first over.
(Piece of Fiction)