Chakde! Again

Lullabies, there are of many kinds but till they serve the basic purpose, notwithstanding their genre they are all the same. I preferred stories to songs, and the old lady, my grandmother, had crest full of them. Wise and wily she was, she lulled us to sleep before finishing any of her tales and thus the crest needed no refilling. But not anymore, I decided, “today you will have to finish the whole tale”. Grandma admitted, she knew none and it was the treacherous art of exaggerating, which duped us in everyday. I whined and pestered, “tell me a tale you know, or else I won’t sleep”, the wrinkles in her pallid visage were clearly visible by now, it was a challenge to her position as the virtuoso story teller of our house. She decided to deal with something she knew, bitter yet universal, sordid yet gluing, trite yet significant.

Here she started:

“They preached and believed in the fabled tale; women were made for household chores- nursing the kids, feeding the olds, sweeping the fence and that was her life. In the 1500 sq. ft. house she roamed only half of it, her day started from the bedroom moved on to the kitchen and ended again from where it started. She was not allowed to move on to the drawing room, not allowed to meet the strangers, lest she lost her sanctity.  Yet she never complained, this was how it was meant to be, an emancipated slavery inherited from generations bygone, they were bound to suffer; Cursed as kids, beleaguered in adolescence and abandoned when no shine were left- her life was tantamount to that of the goat tied by the post, which knew it was meant for oblation but still exuded an enigmatic masochism”.

I cut her short, “but teacher says times are changing, now even girls go out and walk the same pavements as the boys do, even in our school there are so many girls, they never look like they have gone through these. Moreover look at mom, she too is a girl and dadi, you are forgetting “Chakde! India”, the movie we saw together during my last summer vacation; then you looked ecstatic, cheering as the ladies with sticks chased the ball. Not just the stick game, I have seen them participate in cricket too, there are so many girls dancing each time the ball hits the stumps or is hit out of the stadium. You know what? You are saying all this because you always loved didi more than me, just like my class teacher who never cared if Natasha giggled while she taught, but made me kneel down even if I wronged a single spelling”.

Dadi smiled, put her finger on my lips then moved them through my hair, “I love you both the same way; you two mean the same to me. I am acclimatizing you with the milieu that you would grow to be a part of. Life has been such for eves since they were begotten and the atrocities never cease to end. Getting to your explanations, let me tell you, the stick game you are referring to is Hockey, our national sport just like cricket is for England. My dear child you were talking about cheerleaders who dance frivolously to peppy tunes, do you know that we have a women’s cricket team of our own?”

I was startled by the last two revelations at least, I never knew that hockey and not cricket was our national game, let alone that, I never knew the former was a game at all. Did she just say Women’s cricket? How come I never heard of it?

But I am not alone, even the sports administrators in our country are oblivious to any happenings other than men’s cricket. Their ignorance was evident when just a few days before the T20 world cup; Sudha Shah, the longstanding coach of the Women’s cricket team was sacked for reason unknown. To add more salt to the bruise, they appointed Mr. K.V.P. Rao, an unheard commodity with no coaching experience, as the coach of the team for the World Cup, that too just 10 days before the meet. Rao as per sources is a former Bihar and East zone player with no international experience; do we need a scientist to conclude that it was a clear case of nepotism? “While in men’s cricket, coaches are given 2-3 years to assimilate with the team, why women are treated as such?” An unnamed supporter argued. She went on- even if they had to make a change, why not recruit a woman, at least it facilitates easy gelling. While, the men’s team with all hoopla and adulation get kicked out of all major tournaments, their counterparts have shown immense solidarity in adverse circumstances and are keeping their winning streak alive but in hushed silence.  Now take a look at the unseen.

World Cup

Asia Cup


World T20

1973: did not participate

1978: 4th place

1982: 4th place

1988: did not participate

1993: 4th place

1997: Semi Finals

2000: Semi Finals

2005: Runners up

2009: 3rd place

2004: Winners

2005: Winners

2006: Winners

2008: Winners

2009: Semi-Finalists

2010:Semi Finalists

These stats might be impressive, yet stats never were good story tellers and often fabricated tales like Grandma did. Here it forgot to tell us that it was only in 2006 that BCCI, the richest cricket body, took women’s cricket into its fold.

It is not cricket alone, remember P.T. Usha? The other name for running in India, often regarded the best athlete the country has ever produced- a staggering 101 international medals speak volumes about her stature. Could you believe, even she was reduced to tears when Sports Authority of India (SAI) came up with shabby accommodations for her, a year or so ago when she was in Bhopal attending the National Open Athletics meet. A tearful Usha conceded, “If I get this type of treatment, you can imagine what other athletes get”. While we talk of encouraging kids to take up sports seriously, which parents would dream of a similar future for their child? One might argue that Sania Mirza got due support, but it was only because she was a tennis player and in her we saw our own copy of the Maria Sharapovas and Anna Kournikovas, and as fate had it she flattered only to deceive. This brings us to another issue, is sports all about glamour? Are we into an age where a sportsman needs P.R consultants and make-up artists to garner sporting accolades? While the paparazzi swoon over Dhoni’s hair and glare, nobody notices the dimples in coy Mithali Raj’s face.  Maybe, that’s a boon rather than bane; maybe this is what has kept them going. They might have been out of the World T20 by now, but not without a fight in the field and not with a fight in some pub. Another semi-final berth and a track record where they accepted nothing less than a 4th place finish certainly is not enough to awaken the administrators from their stupor- Have they become immune to Chakde syrup? Or do we need a sequel?

Debojit Dutta