It’s 7:30 pm and I find myself in front of the TV. Regardless of the day I’ve had, I’m a hundred percent tuned into the match, and my train of thoughts quietly subside with my attention fixed onto the screen.
Today, despite being surrounded by grief, isolation and devastation, I have a community. Represented by lakhs of people across the country, I find solace amongst this community. This feeling lasts a couple of hours, and the weight on my shoulder is shared by the community as we lay staring at our devices, virtually connected but physically afar.
The 13th and 14th edition of the IPL has taken place during the pandemic, restricting us of the experience hosted by the previous versions. The excitement, adrenaline coursing through, and sheer joy of watching Jadeja field or watching AB De Villiers bat, was an emotion that left us thrilled, and wanting more. To be able to watch the best players all over the world, surrounded by the roaring energy of the cheering crowd, is a feeling I truly miss.
It’s hard for me to remember all that was and all that is.
I miss having the ridiculously overpriced, tasteless stadium food. I miss dancing to the dhol after my favourite team won. I even miss the journey home, my eyes brimming with tears, after a terrible loss. No amount of pre-recorded cheers playing over the empty stadium can replicate the previous experiences.
I want to be able to see Maxi play in full form, to feel the adrenaline coursing as I witness 37 runs in one over. I yearn to watch, on premises, young talent on the ground flourishing the way that they are, currently.
I want to be in complete awe with the cricket-loving community at the stands some day.
It’s all different now, isn’t it?
Deadline-filled assignments, work, news of death, pleas for help and pain, and despair.
COVID-19 struck us hard. It can be overwhelming, sometimes more than I’d like to admit. I feel dreadful on some days, it’s hard for me to even leave my bed. However, I take tiny steps by learning to acknowledge how I feel.
Even though I can’t physically be at the stands, I tune in at 7:30pm. The slightly exhilarating feeling lessens the burden that stands on my shoulder. Watching Shikhar Dhawan be the beast that he is, gives me immense joy. I cannot replicate the feeling of the crowd, I can’t shout, but I can set aside the grief and worry I’ve been harbouring all day. Those tiny dances of victory, as I pump my fist into the air when a wicket is down bring me joy.
Cricket has grown to be one of my favourite sports.
Over the years, as I’ve grown into being who I am now, I have also gotten to see the past, the present and the future of this glorious game. I am so grateful to be able rely on this for comfort, during these trying times.
It’s hard, but as the matches get intense and the nail biting begins, it brings a smile onto my face.
So, yes. It’s different now but it’s not bad.
Hang in there, and maybe, tune into a match? I know I will, for sure. I hope to find you there too.