A Pakistani, an Indian and the gentleman’s game!

Published: March 20, 2014
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It’s that time of the year again, the T20 World Cup and with Pakistan and India playing the opening match, it can't get any better than this!

It was 8:30 at night. Imran was sitting in his apartment in one of the posh areas of Dubai. Sprawled on the comfortable couch, he lazily switched channels on his 60-inch plasma TV while typing a text message to a friend on his cell phone. His iPad lay next to him, opened to The New York Times online page. 

It was a typical evening in the life of a Generation Y executive surrounded by technology 24/7 until the familiar ring of an incoming Skype call jolted him out of his lethargic state. He looked at his watch and then back at the iPad screen. The picture of the caller seemed familiar but it took a few seconds for Imran to recognise who it was. He tapped the ‘accept’ tab on the screen and exclaimed,

“My God! Dude, are you alive?”

On the screen but actually sitting on the other side of the world, 7,000 miles away, Rajesh smiled at him. An old friend, Rajesh had shifted to Canada along with his entire family three years ago. Laughing, he retorted,

“Look who’s talking! I should ask you that question, buddy. Where have you been? If you remember, it was me who called the last time as well…wait, when was that? Almost a year ago?”

Immediately, Imran became apologetic and replied sheepishly,

“That’s true but you know how it is yaar…how life here in Dubai is. Working hours are long and then the time difference. I thought of calling you so many times but something or the other kept me busy. How is your family? And what about the little one? She must be around seven years old by now, right?”

Imran’s wife, passing by, saw Rajesh on the screen and stopped saying,

“Hello! Long time Rajesh bhai…a big ‘Hi’ to Natasha and Jyoti.”

After the pleasantries were over, Rajesh continued his conversation with Imran.

Rajesh: “Everything’s fine here yaar. But I miss the good old days of Dubai. Honestly speaking, I miss the days when we were flat-mates – two bachelors living the ‘Dubai dream’ of struggling to earn a decent living, getting a promotion, getting a driving license, watching cricket and getting married.”

He started laughing as he said this and continued,

“Not in the same order of course but yeah, it does seem like another lifetime at times.”

Imran: “Hahaha… Yes! And do you remember the first time when you came back from your vacation in India… when was that? In 2009? You were so heartbroken…”

Looking around, he lowered his voice to a whisper and continued,

“Because of your engagement and all of us teased you about losing the match in Centurion. Wow, 2009… that was also the last year you guys had played in Pakistan. And we were sure it was the cricket that broke your heart…not some girl!”

Rajesh chuckled and replied,

“Yes! You Pakistani rascals! I remember how Shoaib Malik’s century saved you guys. But don’t forget how you were beaten for three consecutive years after that. Hahaha…the sweetest win was in Mohali… remember Sachin’s knock?”

Imran: “Nah… I forgot, Sachin who?”

Indignantly, Rajesh said,

“Sachin who? The same guy who showed Akhtar how not to bowl or else the ball would be found on the other side of the boundary!”

Imran: “Oh… you must be confused. I thought all Indians knew that the guy who makes the entire Indian team stay out of the boundary line is Shahid Afridi. Oh sorry… you call him ‘Boom Boom Afridi!”

Rajesh: “I love the spirit of you Pakistanis. No matter how badly we beat you and how many times we beat you, you guys never accept it.”

Imran: “Exactly! You must have heard the saying ‘winners never quit and quitters never win!’ That’s why we are always winners, regardless of the outcome of any game. And you guys? Well, what can I say?”

And with that, he winked at the screen and laughed. Rajesh, also smiling replied,

“Imran, I see the painting behind you on the wall. And I see the grapes. Taste them… are they sour?”

Chuckling, Imran replied,

“They are very sour. After all, I’m eating Indian grapes in Dubai!”

Rajesh: “Okay, okay. It’s that time of the year again, isn’t it? Big tournament, the T20 World Cup and in this day and age, it doesn’t get any better. I have everything set up here. A 60-inch screen in my living room, a leather couch and the wife will make sure we have enough popcorn and sodas. And oh yeah, Jyoti will take a day off from school.

But I miss you, my friend. Without you, it just won’t be the same.”

Imran: “You just took the words out of my mouth, Rajesh. No more small screen TVs in the neighbour’s room, no standing outside TV showrooms on the sidewalk to watch the final overs of the game. Today we have it – our own place, all the technology and fancy gadgets. But the friends are not here anymore. Without you, my Indian buddy, nothing is going to be the same. I’ll be with other friends, probably other Pakistanis and you will probably be with many Indians from your neighbourhood.”

Rajesh: “Yes and we’ll clap, cheer and dance every time our team hits a boundary or takes a wicket but deep down, I will miss you my friend. Sometimes I feel grateful that I left India and saw the world. Just like you left Pakistan and saw the world too.  I met and befriended so many Pakistanis, just like you met so many of us Indians. And we learned that as much as we might fight politically, cricket always brings us closer, as strange as that may be.”

Imran laughed and said,

“Yes. That’s something I can’t disagree with. After all, our cricketers always take away your Bollywood heroines and other celebrities and it’s the ‘cricket’ that brings them ‘closer’.”

Rajesh: “That’s unfair. You guys should show some generosity and do an exchange. Why are we always the ones giving our beautiful faces to you?  Forget about Bollywood, you even took our tennis star!”

Imran: “C’mon, you guys should be thankful. We gave you Veena Malik. Isn’t that enough?”

And then, in a lower voice he said,

“Please don’t give her back!”

Rajesh burst out laughing at this and then said,

“Acha listen, I have to log off now. But let’s connect again soon. How about March 21, right after the match? Or will you be in mourning?”

Imran guffawed and replied,

“Yes, I will be in mourning. After all, a friend’s loss is my loss too! So, while we will celebrate our team’s win, I can assure you my friend, you will not see me smile on Skype at least.”

Rajesh laughed and said,

“Yeah, yeah we’ll see. See you soon then.”

Imran: “March 21, you bet my friend! Bye!”

So, dear readers, Imran and Rajesh will see you after the match on March 21, 2014. Stay tuned for their post-match conversation!

Samir Tariq

Samir Tariq

A Strategy and Business Transformation Manager for one of the leading banks in the Middle-East. He lives and works in Dubai. A literature lover and a writer by hobby he mostly writes fiction inspired by true life events.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.

  • Wish

    When I was 19 i fell for an amazingly talented gold medalist Indian /kashmiri Doctor who was 29. Loved him to bits. and he was more than willing to share his life with me. He was the most amazing man I had ever met in my whole life. I don’t think i have ever been able to express myself more to another human being as i did to him. Despite living abroad things miserably felt apart. Why? Because my parents intervened saying ” even if the king of india comes, we won’t permit you. The fact that he had a French Passport also did not have any effect on my or His parents. I remember going through an extremely difficult time. And, this is to say, we were both Muslim families. I don’t know when this animosity will end. Those years were the worst and the best. he is today, a married man , a father of two kids. Not a day goes by that i don’t think of him

    I hope someday this bitter relationship between india and pakistan ends. Even after 65 + years. i see no sign of it.,.Recommend

  • Iftikhar Ali

    No problem.Either this way or that way.Recommend

  • Uzair Ahmed Siddiqui

    the way you use the game of cricket to bring close the people of India and Pakistan is indeed marvelous! Kudos Samir Tariq, I would love to read a post match conversation too, do write no matter whatever the result of match is! ;)Recommend

  • Motiwala

    An exceptional narrative. There are so many ways you can make a difference in this world. Or your own world. Please don’t dwell on the pastRecommend

  • Is.This.Blog.For.Real? Recommend

  • Divorced

    Thank your stars you didn’t marry him… We are different breeds. We look same, eat same but believe me we are different. Ask those Indian ‘heroines’ the author mentioned. And yes I was married to a Pakistani muslim girl too. Every thing fell apart within two years. I am a Hindu btw. In my case it was her religion centric euphoria which wasn’t there before our marriage but suddenly appear after her longer than usual conversations with her bhabhis and cousins. In my country its taught that love knows no boundries cultural or religious but in Pakistan its forbidden to love a non-muslim. Its ok for a muslim male to love a non- muslim female but a muslim lady should never love a non- muslim. Why is that?? Recommend

  • Mangal Khan Kohat wala

    These two indigenous people get along well with
    each other when they are in a third country. They share
    a common culture. Like any good neighbors, or denizens
    of a country. It is only in their respective countries where
    the pandering politicians whip them into a mouth foaming
    catatonic state of frenzy.Recommend

  • Samir tariq

    Thanks a lot guys…and yes, when we are out of our own comfort zones thats when we realize that we can be friends and people from both sides have a strong desire for peace and friendshipRecommend

  • Samir tariq

    thanks a lot Uzair. And yes, i will write inshallah regardless of the outcome…It would either be Imran celebrating…or Rajesh…)Recommend

  • https://www.facebook.com/shail.arora.589 Shail Arora

    Ha ha… I second this.Recommend

  • Noman Ansari

    Thank you for sharing that with us. It was great.Recommend

  • mimi

    Some mad or crazy men , unaware of their origins and realities and history , wasting their time . I also did waste time. Open your eyes , feel the realities .Recommend

  • TheAverageMoe

    nice fictionRecommend

  • Alann

    Nicely written.Recommend

  • Sid

    We should stop generalizing individual’s experience. I am Indian Hindu married to Pakistani European and we never crossed our religious paths. Simply because either we are not too religious or quite accepting to each other’s religion and religious practices. I go to Mosques with her on occasions like Id and she visits temple with me, and of course Churches which gives us more serene experience. Trouble between religions is not because they are different beliefs, but simply because some people want to IMPLY their beliefs on others. I never had for once indulged in an attempt to draw her towards my religion, neither did she. That’s what make us more accepting each other’s religion. what I said above is not impossible, only hurdle every body has is to overcome that wall they built against people from other beliefs.
    Saying that my friend, I do not agree with you, or for that fact anyone who says Indians and Pakistanis are not same. We are very much alike, in our goodness and in our evils. Our bitterness towards each other stems from the brutal pain of partition which still lingers after 65 yrs. May we find solace and peace and learn to live with each others as good humans first, good Hindus and good Muslims later. Amen.Recommend

  • Jose Pepe

    I know an Indian and his Boss is Pakistani. The Indian guy has 20+ experience in the Company while the Pakistani is only 3 years. When the promotion comes the Pakistani promotes someone (of different nationality) bypassing the Indian guy. And to think, the promoted guy is only 1 year since joining the Company. In terms of age, the Indian guy is 40+ as compared to the promoted guy who is only in early 30’s. The Indian guy also is certified professionally. Why is this so? Is there a bad blood between a Pakistani and Indian?Recommend