Cricket is something every one of us loves and admires. Often criticized as too predictable, cricket still remains a very popular game because it only takes one good partnership to change the whole outcome of the match. I still remember the match between South Africa and New Zealand in the world cup tournament of 2015. Till the end nobody, not even the experts, could predict the winning team. Finally New Zealand emerged victorious. What a match that was! The match taught us all a valuable lesson that you can’t beat the opposition unless and until you work hard and give it your all.
In Kashmir especially, cricket is associated with a lot of sentiments. Every mohalla has a cricket team of its own. The first thing we teach our toddlers is how to swing a bat. When it comes to supporting a team, Kashmiris are ardent supporters of the Pakistani Cricket Team. Every match this team plays is followed keenly and eagerly. Whenever Pakistan plays against India, cricket suddenly takes over a whole new meaning. Families huddle around their television sets. The streets bear a deserted look. Mothers keep praying to the Almighty for Pakistans win. Unbelievable as it may seem, even the bakers enjoy a holiday on that day. Emotions run high. People greet each other by saying, Who do you think will win? You get the gist. We Kashmiris are mad about cricket but whenever India and Pakistan play each other, this madness reaches a whole new level.
I still remember the 2015 cricket series between India and Pakistan, when India lost in their own country. How we relished Pakistans victory! Social networking sites were flooded with congratulatory messages for the Pakistan Cricket team. The sound of bursting fire crackers reverberated from every corner of the valley. I still remember how my mother kept praying continuously for Pakistans victory. Whenever the camera focused on Shahid Afridi, my mother would pray harder and kiss the television screen, only because he reminded her of her younger brother, who is one of the thousands of Kashmiris that disappeared in the custody of the Indian Army.
In my mohalla, two die hard cricket fans were famous. These two guys would watch cricket all day and sometimes even play older recorded matches in which Pakistan had emerged victorious against the Indian Cricket Team. One was named Mohammad Jamaal but everyone referred to him as Jamaal kak. The other was named Abdul Ahad but everyone called him Ahad kak. Every time Pakistan won against India, Jamaal Kak would distribute sweets in our mohalla and Ahad kak would relive the moment with fire crackers. Jamaal Kak would happily say “aaz hasa khemaw barith batt plate” (Today I will eat a big plate of rice) and Ahad kak would say, aaz kyasa eei aaraamech nindir (Tonight I will sleep blissfully). They werent the only ones celebrating. The whole valley had a festive look, celebrating Pakistans victory over India. As far as Jamaal kak was concerned, celebrating Pakistans victory was his way of resistance. He always used to say, “India hasei che zalim, yemov kor aess peth hamesh zulum (India is a tyrant and has always oppressed the people of Kashmir). Aes kith peth demov emen sath (how can we support them). But Jamaal kak wasnt always like this. In his youth, he had been an ardent supporter of the Indian Cricket team until the day he witnessed the cruel face of the Indian Army. He was visiting a relatives house in Sopore when the army cordoned off the area in the dead of night. After searching every room in his relatives house, the army called Jamaal kak and beat him ruthlessly, asking if he had any terrorist links.
Something similar happened to Ahad Kak, who by profession is an apple grower. He along with his children had gone to pluck apples from his orchid. While he was doing so, an army patrolling party entered his orchid and started plucking apples from his trees. The Army Major called Ahad kak and started smacking him for allegedly being a militant sympathizer. His children tried to intervene but were silenced by the army men. The Army Major kept beating Ahad kak, ignoring his pleadings. Finally they left him bleeding, taking away all his apples.
If you are familiar with the conflict in Kashmir, you will be able to recall many such tales. Almost every household in Kashmir has a Jamaal kak or an Ahad kak who have been tortured by the Indian Army. Supporting and celebrating Pakistans victory over India in a cricket match is a small act of resistance against the oppression people of Kashmir have been subject to for more than a decade. It is our way of showing the world how we, despite being at the mercy of our oppressors in our own mother land, still find ways to defy the establishement and claim small victories.
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