So the Tigers got thrashed by South Africa on Saturday. But I am not going to write anything about it nor am I going to even think about its impact on Shakib Inc. Long time ago when Bangladesh won the ICC trophy, I painted my face. Half red, half green. And I roamed the streets head high, a proud citizen of the People’s Republic of Bangladesh, even attended an engagement party of one of my friends appearing all red and green. It was a shocker for them but other than that the whole nation was celebrating.
Late in that night, I took a ride on my cousin’s scooter (Vespa) and joined a kafela of some two hundred bikes. The number was increasing at every bend of the road. Those who were merry making were behaving mad. They were dancing, waving flags, spraying water, red oxide water — it was a crazy holi.
Then our bike kafela entered Dhaka University area. We were lost at Shahbag, Arts Institute people were rioting, and the TSC folks had gone haywire. They were sprinkling water from the tank of the then half-done Swaparjito Swadhinata sculpture. The water smelt like rotten fish. We took our exit soaked in a slippery-green-algae-finish. No one was complaining. Broad smile, teeth and all and the bikers were grinning too.
The kafela moved towards Karwan Bazar. As we were crossing the WASA Bhaban, a guy all of a sudden fell down from a rickshaw in front of us and the next instant he sprang up. His face was glittered. He was yelling ‘‘Bangladesh, Bangladesh, Bangladesh’’, and was bobbing up and down awkwardly. He had only one leg. The glint in his eyes was fierce. I almost had a brain-freeze. It was a long stare that made me turn my head to gather the actual picture.
We moved towards Gulshan. Our kafela jammed the Gulshan Avenue. Hundreds of cars with waving flags honking incessantly, exchanging smiles, shaking hands. My cousin dropped me home at dawn.
Cricket has given similar orgasmic celebrations to the ordinary citizens of this nation a number of times. People get blown away at such occasions. But it’s only natural; adrenaline rush don’t occur every day, you know.
Football used to create similar madness during its hay days. Abahani vs Mohammedan, Brothers Union vs Wonderers, Abahani vs Farashganj. (‘‘Farashganj Ailo’’). Some names still make some veteran football fans drifty, like ‘The Aga Khan Gold Cup’, ‘Penang Football Club’, ‘Ali Baaker and Isa Baaker (from where the famous name Baaker Bhai was coined)’, ‘Salahuddin, Chunnu, Tutul, Pakir Ali (Yes I was a diehard Abahanian)’, and Ahhh, the centre of all euphoria *The Dacca Stadium*. Anyway ‘Football’ died in the mid-‘80s, mysteriously (RIP). The end. Period. Stop. And after a decade or so, cricket took the centre stage. We didn’t know what to do with it.
Anyway, let’s get back to the morning I got back home from the triumphant kafela. I wiped off the tired red and green face and rushed for office. My boss was a big time cricket fan and also played cricket for one of the Sunday cricket teams of Dhaka. By lunch time he struck the gem of an idea of creating a cricket corner at Dhaka Club! Later, a Cricket Academy at Kalabagan!! And what did I do? I made presentations one after the other. These were his pet projects.
Cricket instantly caught the attention of the corporates. And why not, Bangladesh is going to play against all the cricketing nations. The corporates got there as hungry early birds looking for insects, disregarding the fact if our boys could walk the walk. And *the post-mortem report of Football* got lost in the belly of Captain Cave Man. Recently, some corporate houses are trying to revamp football. Their half-arsed endorsement is not doing any good to the future of football for Bangladesh.
Let me give you a picture of what some of the school kids are doing in their effort to revive football. They are forming football clubs and they are not involving the school authorities. Holding unofficial inter-school football tournaments. Posting pics in the social networks. Underground movement of Football!
During World Cup Football, passion for the game makes every individual hoist flags of their favourite team virtually on every rooftop. This time around Dhaka is hosting the Cricket World Cup for god’s sake!!!
So where have all the flags gone?
Ahmed Arif Sirajee is an OSS enthusiast and a news hound.