Final moments of a crucial Hockey match and India is behind by 1 goal. It is almost certain they’ll lose unless a magic happens at the last minute. The captain of the team, a striker, gets the ball and crisscrosses the opposition player to reach striking distance. He can now equal the score. But then, a strike on his legs and he tumbles down.
Damn! This could have been an equalizer.
The referee signals for a penalty stroke. The crowd is jubilant. One more chance to equal the scorecard.
The captain decides to take the strike. Everyone’s on the edge of their seats. He looks around the stadium. They all are behind him to score. Pressure to score; as he takes the position. The opposition Goalkeeper is restlessly bobbling across the goal. He does not want to miss this one.
The captain takes the shot. The ball travels; we’re shown the slo-mo as the ball whizzes past the edge of the goalpost. As it goes away, the disappointed look of the captain matches that of the crowd. A collective sigh of disappointment spreads across the stadium and tv screens across the nation.
Sunk into the ground is our captain. He has failed his country.
How could I miss that?
The opposition player walks up to him to shake his hands in solidarity and the so-called sportsmen spirit. After all, it is just a game. Winning and losing is part of it.
A photographer, sitting on the far side of the fence, twitches his eyebrows as if he came across a sensational story. He points his camera and captures the moment. Naturally, it graces the headlines of newspapers with captions that were much more clickbaity before the terminology even became popular with the Internet. Television debates ensue and the entire media circus brings back the entire blame on the captain who missed the shot.
It wouldn’t have, had this been some other country. It was Pakistan.
Sports acts as a pseudo war for people who didn’t take part in the actual one. Beating the opposition’s 11 players on the field to win a game is like winning a ‘war’. In this case, the captain deprived an entire country of that win.
What followed after the entire media frenzy was the captain being kicked out of the side, had to leave his ancestral home while the entire mohalla watched. Few hesitant neighbors, undecided on what to do, keep mum to not be branded as traitors themselves. ‘Gaddar’, the term had crept out of newspaper headlines and TV Studios to their very own lane.
As the captain and his teary-eyed mother lock their home and leave town, a man walks up to write ‘Gaddar’ on their wall.
The mother consoles her son to not look. But the son does. He wants to see him write that down. The country he has played for lived in and considers his home, now brands him as a Gaddar just because he missed a goal.
This isn’t a real story. This is the opening few minutes of Chak-De which I just paused to write this down. Even though the story isn’t real, what happened to Kabir Khan is a symbolic representation of the brewing hate against an entire community. It just keeps finding faucets to come out.
I know, my comment section or messages, are going to have responses that this is pessimism and one shouldn’t base their opinions tangled in such negativity. But what choice does one have?
Two days ago, in an election rally, Modi asks Opposition whether the opposition wants a Mosque or Temple at the Babri Masjid site. This guy is the Prime Minister of our Country and unarguably the most powerful person in the country right now.
Tell me, where should I see the positivity in this? Where should I see the positivity in a 50-year old man being hacked and burnt alive for ‘love jihad’?
We’re all that same, Kabir Khan, looking at the country, as we get branded from one thing to the other. We are the beef eaters, the terrorists, the separatists, the ‘love-jihadis’ and what not. While our friends keep mum and we look on amazed at what we’ve become to them. The demons, the outsiders, descendants of Baburs and the Aurangzebs. The others.
As Kabir Khan says, ‘..jisko mera khoon paseena dil jaan deke bhi yakeen nahi hota.. ki main uski team se khela tha, aur zindagi bhar uski team se khelta rahunga..’
The existential question, common to all the others, Will we ever become a part of the country?
When posters of Ahmed Patel prop up in Gujarat claiming him to be the CM Candidate from Congress, he has to clarify he isn’t! Rahul Gandhi has to clarify that he is, after all, a Hindu and not a Christian. Why are these two things a point of discussion?
Hope is a good thing but with every passing day, it feels I’m exhausted. Of hope and even for an outrage!