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Welcome to the greener side


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The first time I realised my youth was over was in a dentist chair. It had nothing to do with the procedure, but a TV placed above it, where a news channel splashed blood-red graphics promising a special speech by the country's military ruler.

Musharraf had assumed power when I had just turned 16. By the time Musharraf resigned, I'd gone through A' levels, university and my first job. I had fallen in love the first time, I had my heart broken, I had been cruel to someone else. I had made countless pointless gestures of rebellion against the powers that be.

I had learnt apathy and nihilism.

I had gone through months thinking my life was the greatest tragedy on this planet, and had spent years proclaiming how my cynicism dwarfed all the world's beliefs.

The next time I felt that a great cycle in my life had completed was when Pakistan won the World T20 in 2009.

Considering that I had fallen in love during a sleep-cycle wrecking tournament in 1992, it felt that life had come full circle seventeen years later. All that agony, heartbreak, terror and torpor of the intervening years had finally paid their dues and contextualised themselves in the narrative of a timeless Epic.

On Wednesday - the day of the semi-final between Pakistan and India, I knew for a fact that I had crossed over to another chapter, because I could see so many others be dragged for the first time into the abyss of self-hurt and self-hate which is loving the Pakistan cricket team.

So welcome, all ye scarred irrevocably.

Welcome, all those who were sucked into the hype, who had known none of life's tragedies, who previously had never experienced that feeling where everything they ate tasted of sand, every breath of air felt like an exercise in futility, every new dawn only confirmed the seeming eternity of despair.

Welcome to the endless parade of masochism that is supporting the Pakistan cricket team.

As someone who has endured this for two decades, allow me to give you some pointers.

You will now be forever besieged by uncles, self-oblivious burgers and self-contradictory ideologues of both the right and left, who will mock you for your love and who will question your faith with sordid tales of matches and spots-fixing. They will laugh cruelly and point fingers at you every time Afridi, or some other mad enigma falls to an ugly hoick in mid-wicket.

You will find now the cruelty of love and its close proximity to addiction. You will know how each time, you will promise to quit cold turkey, never allow this poison to engulf your life and plague your mind the way it did this time, and how even then, this blasted team of ours will somehow contrive to seduce you once more, before leaving you naked and gasping, alone in the desert of your despair.

You will find out now of terrible ideas, substances and practices which you will embrace in a bid to numb your pain. You will turn to harmful habits, psychotic lovers, extremist beliefs. You will immerse yourself in the mundanity of work, or the neo-liberal pursuit of O-level grades and GPAs. Perhaps you will retreat almost completely into the rational sphere of your brain, where you will try and contextualise every and anything to inculcate you from the pain.

But let me tell you this as well - it will be OK.

In fact, it will be a lot more than OK. Because unlike all those who mock and abuse you, you will experience love, not admiration. You will experience ecstasy, not Facebook likes. You will experience moments that will show you how time is just a lie we tell ourselves, and that even a second can last for eternity.

You now have an organic, indelible, irrevocable connection with your country that no one can get in between. Even if they mock your for your accent, or your lack of culture, or your ignorance of regional languages or local histories, you have this. Even when they denounce you for your bubble-living elitist life, or your half-imagined middle class fantasies, you have this.

Over time, it will teach you to love but also to evolve. It will teach you of the importance of peaks and troughs, of the necessity of madness to be tempered by sobriety. It will teach you introspection and it will teach you the joy of experiencing emotions you thought you weren't capable of.

Welcome then, to the greener side.

Ahmer Naqvi is the Brian Lara of his generation – he’s a genius but his team usually loses. He blogs on his own property in Blogistan, and makes short films you can see here, and here.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

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Ahmer Naqvi is the Brian Lara of his generation – he’s a genius but his team usually loses.

He tweets @karachikhatmal

The views expressed by this writer and commenters below do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.

Comments (33) Closed

Hassaan Apr 04, 2011 12:47pm
well written !! completely portrays the highs and lows of being a Pakistan cricket fan.
Aly Apr 04, 2011 12:56pm
Went above my head. Your writings depict a confused mindset.
Shiraz Jan Apr 04, 2011 01:25pm
Also spare a thought for those (like myself) who live outside Pakistan, the ignominy of defeat they have had to face and will continue to face. And i totally agree with you that the depression and despair stems from the patriotism and the belief that we are as good as anyone. Jeo khiladi......wah re wah re!!!
Arifeen Yousufi Apr 04, 2011 01:55pm
My heart may bleed, but it still bleeds GREEN!
zafar Apr 04, 2011 02:22pm
i am british born male whos parents came from karachi in 1960 i support england in every sport but pakistan in cricket for some reason i have feelings for the supporters but u have to admit an semifinal place despite losing to main bowlers in wierd cirumstanses wasnt a bad achivment i had thought pakistan will go out in first round
Y.K Apr 04, 2011 02:36pm
Wow. Beautifully written!!! Very perceptive and touching.
Arsalaan Apr 04, 2011 02:51pm
Pakistan Zindabad... The same is the usual with all aspects of our society lets overturn our current self centered leaders and make a platform for others to come up for the country. Long live Pakistan !!
sarah Apr 04, 2011 03:12pm
wel glad to knw this..realy proud ov pkaistani team.. they are really brave :( we still love u wid core ov our hearts.. :)
Ali Raza Apr 04, 2011 03:13pm
Aziz Apr 04, 2011 03:44pm
I agree Aly..
Sarah Farrukh Apr 04, 2011 04:24pm
The Real Cricket Champions are Green Team....
Safiq Apr 04, 2011 05:13pm
I am not agreeing. Pakistan cricket team is not played very well.
satyam Apr 04, 2011 06:21pm
we invited ur pm, we invited 5000 pakistanis to watch match, we admired afridi after match, v r feeding ur actors, singer and some unwanted iriitating ppl likes veena malik and we are not large hearted wht a sick nd ridiculous thought
rajeev verma Apr 04, 2011 08:27pm
I am an indian but i love pakistan team because as a 10 year old guy i saw wasim akram bowling yorkers and imran khan leading from front.I think talent wise pakistan team is superior to all the teams put together.Its beyond my understanding that how can such a talented team wins so less.
Lover of Humanity Apr 04, 2011 08:39pm
Every time there is Cricket match between Pakistan and India, they come out with the same silly notion that cricket in a panacea for all that ails i South Asia. But the bottom line is the diplomatic overtures and goodwill last only a little longer than a 50 over match. Only sports fans( children who have failed to mature in to adults) think that they can develop a country by playing games. Only they think that cricketers a heroes. say Singapore has no cricket team, or any other team of any significance, but they win my world cup for honesty, hard work and honourable behaviour- not to mention cleanliness, civility and all round high standards.
P N Eswaran Apr 04, 2011 09:02pm
Cricket is after all a game and should be treated as such. I wish Pakistanis, living on the edge, worry about more serious things. Pakistanis suffer from over drugging of misplaced patriotism.
Sanjay Apr 04, 2011 09:36pm
Earlier I used to have apathy towards Pakistan, now I feel pity. What a contrast!! While every nook and corner of India was celebrating world cup win, in Pakistan 30 got killed and 100 got injured at Darghah. And Afridi says Allah has given a big heart to Muslim/Pakistani. Aankhe band karne se bahar ki sachaai nahi badalti. Dear Pakistani brothers wake up and stop telling everything is fine, do something otherwise even Allah will not be able to stop you in enetering into Barbaris age, if not happened already.
ss Apr 04, 2011 09:42pm
very well written article. Substitute cricket for any other passion and this is an article about life, and growing up, not old.
Laiq Apr 04, 2011 11:26pm
Lighten up... The team did its best. No one tried to fix the match. We lost because the other guys played better. If our team stays clean and works harder, we will be cheering in 4 years...
Manish Kumar Apr 04, 2011 11:47pm
Dear writer, Your writing reminds me of my Pakistani bosses in my bank in Dubai. It clearly shows an intention to stuff in heavy words of the language (which you seem to have mugged up from here and there). The content is boring as well. This article pleases you for sure, but is erratic in choice of words, and quite haywire in depiction. You got to work hard on your language and content both :)
Sahar Apr 05, 2011 01:01am
Very well written.
Indian Apr 05, 2011 06:19am
Look at what pakistani captain has to say in response of all the love that is provided by India and indian team.. Shame on you Afridi and dirty pakistani media for blaming loss to Indian team to Indian media.. Need real medical attention to all pakistani team.
Linny Apr 05, 2011 08:02am
Looks like the writer had swallowed a thesaurus for breakfast. Sorry, the style of writing is not for a common man like me. Most of the time I was struggling to comprehend what he wanted to say.
ali Apr 05, 2011 09:08am
Very graphic in details. You have truly captured the sentiments of real cricket lovers. Problem is deeper in cricket. Musharraf and Nasim Ashraf and Zardari and Ejaz But can not lead us to the trophy. Our team played like scared sheep.
anuranjan Apr 05, 2011 09:59am
thanks afridi, some days back my heart was stolen by you. i have received it back, intact.....
Hari Apr 05, 2011 10:06am
Apparently inviting the Pakistani PM to watch the match, giving a thunderous applause to Afridi at the awards ceremony, applauding the Pakistani contingent at the CWG Games is not enough to be called "large hearted"
Rohma Apr 05, 2011 11:09am
Indian brother, We are facing terrorism and yes at Dargah there was once again a terror attack...but you have got to appreciate if you have any sense at all that going through so many crisis within are country and in the cricket team in particular we were still able to tie for the 3rd place. That is an achievement in itself. So win or lose the GREEN's are still champs! GO GREEN
Tarun Apr 05, 2011 11:18am
Afridi Speech shows that he is having a double personality, first he praised indian hospitality, cricket, people. Now he is criticizes every thing. It showed his double character. I think he is in shock after the defeat in semis and doesn't know what to say.
Kartik Apr 05, 2011 02:37pm
May I ask Afridi what qualifies as fitting to being called large-hearted. You mean we should have lost the semi-final to your team and also get Srilanka to do the same ?
Bashir Apr 05, 2011 03:06pm
Yes Go Green. But, be Afraid of Afridi.
chandran Apr 06, 2011 07:30am
Mr Afridi's comments are despicable and is so unbecoming of a player of his stature . shame on you . it reminds me of an ungrateful guest who after enjoying his host's hospitality bad mouths him . so typical of the mind set of some people across the border
Hamza Apr 07, 2011 06:20am
It certainly was a good read.
Akhtar Apr 08, 2011 12:14am
The superiority of Pakistan's bowlers has been recognised by the entire cricketing world. They forced five catches on a master batsman like Tendulkar. If the fielders, senior batsmen and in fact the Captain himself, had not been overawed by the occasion and kept their nerves, the cup would have been in Pakistan today.