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Losing One’s Way

" Written pathetically in the second person, I’ve shamelessly (tried to) copy Mohsin Hamid’s style in ‘How To Get Filthy Rich In Rising Asia’. Oh, and this might remind you of Mohammed Aamir, well, sort of."

You’re just fifteen years old. Living in a village just north of the Punjab, a village few people have heard of. You lead a simple existence. Your family owns a buffalo farm and supplies milk to the nearby town so you naturally help around. Feeding, cleaning and looking after the ungulates have made you a strong boy.

Recently your uncle, the only learned man in your family, comes to the countryside. In a casual evening conversation, he mentions a cricket tournament happening in the nearby town. He thought you might be interested.

Of course you’re interested, and so the next day you leave for the town with your uncle and find yourself playing for a team.

Somehow, cricket comes naturally to Pakistanis and you’re no exception. You’re particularly good in bowling fast, which you and a local coach believe in. You’re drafted into a team and in the two-week action that follows, your team has won the cup named after some old Wadera.

Little did you know that a scout from the National Cricket Academy [NCA] was watching you particularly and was thoroughly impressed. The day you were walking back to your village, he made an offer to come with him to Lahore and play for Pakistan. He has given you a contact number and hopes you come to the cultural capital.

You go to your village and the excitement of playing for Pakistan is somewhat quadrupled. You talk to your parents and they give you there blessing. Your mother gives you a box of laddoos she has made herself and off you go.

We fast-forward three years and forget village teams, you have helped won Pakistan win the World T20. All the hard work in the hot Lahore weather paid off. You are now a hero. Endorsement deals are plenty and so are lucrative offers to play premier T20 leagues around the world.

But right now you are playing a Test match on the same soil where you won Pakistan her maiden T20 cup. You’re halfway through your seventh over and catch the eye of your captain. He nods, you bowl, you overstep and it is a no-ball. Shocker, you’ve never once bowled a no-ball in your life. You bowl again and it is the same result. However, your ‘deal’ with the underworld is now complete and you bowl Pakistan to a win.

A week later however, 179.2 million people alone in your country are glued to their television sets. It seems that the seemingly foolproof plan of spot-fixing is not so foolproof at all. You’ve been caught and you’re going to pay. Your humble background means little, your hard work has no meaning, and your toothbrush advert gives you no satisfaction. You were on top of the world and spinning off a famous Steve Waugh quote rather disappointingly, ‘You just dropped it, son.’

Amidst all the chaos, a confusion that ensues, you’re jailed, taken to court and then back and forth again. In your country, where young ‘uns (and adults as well) put your poster on their wall, are burning effigies. On television talk shows, newspapers and online blogs, you’re being ridiculed. Your achievements mean nothing, and only what you’ve done, means everything.

You’ve taken away the innocence of cricket for millions of passionate fans, never will they truly believe an act of extraordinaire on a cricket field. You’ve taken away the innocence of humble backgrounds and most importantly, for which you are hated the most, you’ve ashamed your family, all 179.2 million of them.  

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