Cricket sneaked up on me when I least expected it. For decades, my involvement with the sport consisted of yelling at regular intervals at my cricket-mad spouse: “Could you turn the damn volume down!” I can’t say which irritated me more—that despite my best efforts to understand it, the intricacies of the game somehow continued to elude me. Or that I felt so left out of it all—the suspense, the passion, the partying. Each time I watched a match with him, it was the same routine—he was instantly transported from the couch onto the field, breathing with those men in pads and bats. And I, still sitting stolidly on the couch, wondering if dinner was burning on the stove. I was cricket-deaf. And in this country, that’s probably worse than being the fat boy in class who just doesn’t get it.
But that anxiety to belong had long since passed, I can vouch, because I was still myself till the semi-finals—still watching everyone make fools of themselves with the self-satisfied air of one who’s kept her head. Others wanted to go home early to see the match, not me. Fools, all of them—the mechanic who wouldn’t attend my call because of a mere game or the auto-rickshaw driver who refused to give me a ride. Even the usually sober librarian who shooed me out from the deserted reading room early—what had gotten into her? I even bragged the next day of how I wouldn’t even have noticed India’s semi-final win against Pakistan had my dog Cookie not crept under the bed. Outside, the fireworks had begun to go off, much as they do on Diwali. Both Cookie and I loathed the noise and vulgarity of it all.