Guest post by SAMEER KHAN
My 8th standard final exams were nearing and they coincided with the1992 World Cup cricket match between India and Pakistan. It was the most important match for India, much more important than the final – defeating Pakistan was no less than winning the world cup. As I sat studying in the bedroom, I could hear Ratan’s peculiar whistle, and I rushed to the balcony. It was drizzling, and Ratan stood there in the shelter of the bus stop along with Uday, smiling sheepishly.
Abbajan sat on his armchair in the hall, fortunately he seemed to have dozed off watching TV, I sneaked past him. It was still drizzling, I was glad to see that Uday actually carried an umbrella with him. All three of us huddled under the black umbrella as we made our way towards Ratan’s house which was about 15 minutes walking distance from my house.
Ratan’s parents and had gone to the Vaishno Devi shrine, his house was our temporary fiefdom. It was an exciting moment for us – we could watch the entire match; it would be so much fun. It was fun indeed. Uday had stashed some ladoos from his kitchen, and the ladoos were a delicacy prepared by his grandmother. I had bought a bottle of Thumbs up; Ratan had some goodies in his refrigerator.
This was the first little adventure for us. We had never ever watched a match all by ourselves. I had always watched cricket matches under the strict eyes of my father. I would wait to watch the Man of the Match ceremony but Abbajan would always switch off the TV once the match was over and I would be left sulking.
This was our moment – we screamed, jumped, danced with joy when India won the match against Pakistan, and more importantly my hero Sachin Tendulkar scored 54 runs and was declared the man of the match. We hugged each other when Sachin received the Man of the Match award.
There were fireworks all over the city. I could hear one garland of crackers exploding for almost 10 minutes – it must have been a huge one. For the next hour the fireworks did not stop.
We rushed down on the street, many boys went zooming by on their bikes honking in a celebratory manner. Even the cars started to honk and it was total chaos -the bursting of fireworks and honking of horns. It was unbelievable. We joined the many boys on the streets, they simply went berserk. We kept whistling and shouting as we returned towards my house.
On the way home, as we neared the Hari Masjid we could hear that the sound of the beating drums of the celebrations had turned unusually loud. There were a few boys who were throwing red gullal (vermillion) on the masjid walls.
There was a huge crowd of people and as we tried to move forward, suddenly among the many faces laced with gullal someone hit me on my back and screamed “Pakistan Murdabad.”
I fell on my face and when I turned around I saw Ratan fighting a group of older boys who had assaulted me. Uday began to cry. My hair was also covered completely in vermillion it was red in color, my head hurt badly and as I touched my head it was not just gullal but also blood.
Ratan managed to punch a few boys and when he realized he was not going to win the fight, decided to beat a retreat. He began to run and screamed my name – “Sameer bhaag”! I ran for my life along with Ratan. The older boys began chasing us and Uday stood weeping in the crowd behind. We did not stop running till we reached my building, panting for breath.
I looked towards Ratan and said “Hindustan Zindabad”.
Ratan hugged me and burst into tears. I could hear his wailing and I could also hear the beating of the dhols.