IN India to play for his country, ace Pakistani batsman, Inzamamul-Haq, 23, also known as the Gentle Giant of Multan, is emotional. At Mohali, his eyes brim over in front of television cameras as he expresses his wish to go to Hansi in Haryana where his family migrated from in 1947. "I have to go there. I promised my father I'd bring him pictures. We have no relatives there but we did have a haveli. Dad said it was near a mazaar." In the Taj palace lobby in Delhi, he asks anxiously, "do you think anyone would remember my grandfather Pirzada Zia-ul-Haq by name there? Are there any Muslims left there anymore? Do you think they might have changed the name of the locality? Dad tells me it was called Pirzadgan. Others called it mohalla Moghalpura." The Pakistani cricket board did not permit him to go.
He was not the only one that wanted to go. His captain Rameez Raja, too, wanted to visit his inlaws' relatives in Kamal, his own folks in Jaipur. "I'm from Lahore. My mother-in-law is from Delhi, my father-in-law from Karnal. Don't know about the wife. I've hopefully picked up some of Delhi's famous tehzeeb (courtesy) from her," he says, smiling shyly. "I would be happy to meet my in-laws in Karnal but where is the time or the permission?" Teammate Ijaz Ahmed nods along. Contrary to media reports, he too could not meet cousins in Jalandhar for the same reason.
Cricketers are celebrities. Their grief is public. So are the amends that public relations-conscious governments sometimes make for them. But for every known Rameez, Ijaz and 'Inzi' there are a thousand eponymous ones whose anguish will never be aired, whose wishes will never be fulfilled, to whom concessions will never be made. For they are nameless, faceless. Just one of the many that lay siege at the Pakistan embassy in Delhi, the Indian embassy in Islamabad to beg for visas that are sometimes granted, often refused.
Like permission was. To Inzi. The gentle giant with the gentler heart, whose eagerness shone like a neon sign as he asked team manager Naseem, "you think I can go, Naseembhai? These people here tell me Hansi is just a day trip away. Do you think I can go over, Naseembhai?" It's a question countless Inzis have been asking their respective governments over and over again in the last 50 years.