A unique language

 

I was eleven years old when I watched, for the very first time, eleven grown men in coloured uniforms scattered across a playing field. Two men with sticks in a different coloured uniform stood in the middle. I watched with a mixture of curiosity and disdain as one of the men in blue, ran and threw a ball at the man holding the stick.

‘OUT!’ screamed my father, as the men in blue rejoiced. The man in yellow tucked his stick — a bat — under his arm and walked away.

‘Did you see that ball?’ asked my father. ‘It was a beauty!’

I smiled back not comprehending anything. I knew this much – it was the 1996 Cricket World Cup and my father was addicted to it. Like almost every other person on the subcontinent. In fact, I was almost proud I didn’t follow this stupid game unlike the rest of the nation obsessed with it. India was one of the nations hosting the series but I wasn’t silly enough to succumb to it.

‘So what exactly happened?’ I asked my dad, seating myself on our well-worn couch.

He went on to explain the single man in blue — the bowler — had ‘spun’ the ball so well that the man in yellow — the batsman — had no option but to hit it straight back to him. It still didn’t make much sense to me but I continued to watch it to keep my dad company.

There were a flurry of ‘outs’ as my dad rejoiced often, each time taking care to explain to me how exactly the batsman was out. After the 10th man was out, I figured it was the end.

‘So who won?’ I asked dad, knowing he was supporting the men in blue.

‘It’s not over yet. We have to bat now and chase their score.’

That’s when I knew it was going to be a long evening. After almost three hours, India still didn’t win, much to the disappointment of the nation. But that evening was a win for me.

‘When’s the next game?’ I asked.

I spent the entire series supporting the men in blue. I began to understand the rules, the skill required to play the game, the strategies involved. When he wasn’t at work, dad would take the trouble to explain things to me. The LBW rule. The fielding spots such as silly-point or mid-on and mid-off. He spoke about the greats from when he was younger. The men in blue did well until the semi-finals. Dad was disappointed. I mourned with the nation too but only for a while. I’d started developing a soft spot for the team in yellow.

*

Over the next few years, my love for cricket grew. Dad and I continued to watch games much to the frustration of my sister and mum. I’d stay up late watching series being played overseas. I’d wake up at 5 in the morning to watch a game played in Australia. But dad and I no longer saw eye to eye.

While I supported the Aussies, he branded them as unsportsmanlike. While I cheered their aggressive playing, he argued they were bullies. I held the upper hand as the Aussies dominated the cricket scene year after year. Our conversations were limited to cricket and later, to football. At least with the latter, we supported the same team – Liverpool.

I spent my teenage years talking sport to dad. I’d speak about school, friends, ups and downs of adolescence with mum. But the closeness I shared with her was never replicated with dad. Unless of course, we talked sport. We could have long conversations on tactics and strategies, on series that should have been won or which team deserved a win. Nothing more. Nothing else.

*

The first time I called my parents after reaching Australia at 21, I spoke in length to mum. After speaking to my sister amidst a lot of tears, she passed the phone to dad. For a second, we were both quiet.

‘Met any Aussie cricketers yet?’ he asked.

I laughed, knowing he meant if I was happy with what I’d seen so far.

‘How did Liverpool do?’ I asked back. He told me about the game I’d missed, knowing well that I’d be fine and that I missed them.

He’s not a man of many words, my dad. Not one for sentiment. But somehow, through our unique language, we have more in common than we realised before. While we no longer just talk sport, and while I still won’t tell him every little thing, we have a mutual understanding that didn’t exist before.

And while he still supports the men in blue, and I go for the gold-and-green, I know in so many other ways, I am truly my father’s daughter.

*

(c) Sanch Vee @ Sanch Writes (27 February 2017)

Image Source: Pixabay

  1. Debbie D.

    February 27, 2017 at 9:29 am

    The love of sport can be so unifying. I enjoyed reading the story of you and your Dad bonding over cricket. 🙂 I had a similar relationship with my father and hockey.
    Debbie D. recently posted…WHERE WERE YOU IN 1965? #FlashbackFriday #MusicalMemoriesMy Profile

    1. Sanch, the writer

      March 4, 2017 at 2:11 pm

      Thanks Debbie…I agree, sport can be a common language 🙂

  2. Fiona Moore

    February 27, 2017 at 9:39 am

    You were 11? Wow. I was raised in front of cricket on the tele

    1. Sanch, the writer

      February 27, 2017 at 8:09 pm

      Haha…well, we lived in Oman till I was 9 so we didn’t get any cricket there. He might have watched it when we got back to India but I may not have paid attention then. It took till the year after to get into it.

  3. Lata Sunil

    February 27, 2017 at 3:47 pm

    Thats so cute to be able to talk about sports to your dad. Sometimes, dads are not as expressive as shown in the TV ads. This is better. Hmm.. the 1996 World Cup was a great time in my life as I was in my first job. Everyday, we used to place bets among ourselves and earned lots of money. I don’t think I really watched any world cup after that.

    1. Sanch, the writer

      March 4, 2017 at 2:32 pm

      Lots of dads especially in India are not very expressive, are they? Wow…first job, eh? Having a world cup at a time like that would have been fun 🙂

  4. Anamika Agnihotri

    February 27, 2017 at 4:04 pm

    Fathers are like that. They would use lesser words but still their sentiments speak distinct language. I remember that semi-final match of 1996 world cup held at Eden Garden in Kolkata. India’s loss in that match broke too many Indian hearts. I was never too interested in cricket but with my cricket crazy father and brother at home, I never had the choice of watching anything else if cricket was being telecasted on TV. At that time, I didn’t know that one was under no pressure to watch the TV when it was in a switched on state 😀
    Anamika Agnihotri recently posted…Dealing with someone’s anger #MondayMusingsMy Profile

    1. Sanch, the writer

      March 4, 2017 at 2:44 pm

      That match ended in a riot, didn’t it? Had to laugh at your ‘choiceless’ state back then!

  5. Nabanita Dhar

    February 27, 2017 at 5:19 pm

    You know I love watching cricket and football with my Dad. It is so much fun. He is an ardent Argentina supporter and I was a complete Germany supporter since childhood. But last world cup somehow seeing my father, I too transformed to an Argentina supporter. Imagine, I had been wishing to see Germany won the world cup ever since I was 10 years old and when it won, I somehow couldn’t support them anymore. I guess sports bonds like nothing other.
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  6. Parul Thakur

    March 1, 2017 at 2:50 am

    So I am not a big cricket fan but I do cheer for men in blue. The other day I saw your happy IG post and when, I did feel a bit of envy that our men had lost. I also come from the thought process that the best should win and in this game, Aussies did really well.
    Other than cricket, I enjoy badminton and soccer. My only regret is that I was a lazy girl while growing up. My glasses and body frame talk much more than words can share 😉
    Parul Thakur recently posted…Gratitude List – February 2017My Profile

  7. Simon Falk

    March 1, 2017 at 12:18 pm

    As we Aussies say, a great yarn. Thanks for sharing.
    Simon Falk recently posted…Late #Summer AfternoonMy Profile

  8. Esha Dutta

    March 1, 2017 at 3:50 pm

    Lovely post, Sanch. I think father-daughter bonding can be very subtle and beautiful and it is wonderful that in your case Cricket helped to make it so very special, something that you seem to really chersih till date and that is how it ought to be, right? I too remember watching that ’96 match although I wasn’t a die-hard cricket fan but always felt that our Indian side should win. It was a moment that unified a country that always stays divided on so many counts.

  9. shalini

    March 1, 2017 at 9:33 pm

    How simply have you spun a beautiful tale of a father-daughter bonding over something so nerve wracking as Cricket!! Your writing is so personal and heartfelt; I love reading your blog for this very reason! Cheers

  10. Beat About the Book

    March 2, 2017 at 3:21 am

    Cricket is such a crazy thing here in India and a great way to bond even with strangers. It is wonderful to share an interest with your parent. Your relationship with your dad sounds very special.
    Beat About the Book recently posted…Of Men and Women #Teaser Tuesday 5My Profile

  11. Melony Boseley

    March 2, 2017 at 4:43 pm

    I was this way with my dad and me were about gridiron/NFL. After moving to Australia, I have tried over and again to get into Cricket, but I just can’t. It lacks the speed of AFL, which is now the sport I follow the most. It means hubby and I bond a lot over AFL, but I miss out when he decides he has to watch the 20/20. Haha
    Melony Boseley recently posted…Night TerrorsMy Profile

  12. Donna-Louise Bishop

    March 3, 2017 at 6:28 am

    Aw, this is a lovely piece. It was a pleasure to read and was really authentic. Great job!

  13. Lisa

    March 3, 2017 at 12:19 pm

    I feel this way about my (late) grandfather. He dragged me to baseball games every single summer/fall and made me watch on TV. It was the only thing he was passionate about and it’s hard to imagine him having any will to live without it. Thanks for writing this and reminding me of good times.

  14. Sulekha

    March 3, 2017 at 7:46 pm

    The bond between a father and a daughter is a special one. I remember the times spent with my dad when he used to take me for a pony ride on Sundays. Those were our special times. Your lovely post brought a smile to my face and I smiled at my dad’s picture on the mantle.

  15. Vidya Sury

    March 4, 2017 at 5:57 pm

    I feel the love, Sanch. There’s nothing quite so full of joy as words unspoken mingled with words spoken, making the conversation continuous. Hugs!
    Vidya Sury recently posted…From Nature, With Love #MeAndNatureMy Profile

  16. MALINY

    March 4, 2017 at 11:36 pm

    You r post brought back memories of my childhood days when I would watch cricket with my younger brother match after match untiringly. Such a nostalgic post, Sanch.
    MALINY recently posted…Hey Hello! – Bits From LifeMy Profile

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