The Tribune - Spectrum

, February 9, 2003
Lead Article

Cricket’s gain will be wives’ pain!
Chetna Banerjee

Illustration by Sandeep JoshiWIVES and girlfriends are about to lose their men to their souten in the coming days. The ‘mistress’ that is going to seduce them, captivate their senses and make their hearts miss a beat is the ‘queen of all games.’ And though she will be unveiled in the remote rainbow land of South Africa, she will cast a spell in practically every home in India, from Kota to Kokatta and from Chandigarh to Chennai.

For the next month, the cricket world Cup will turn otherwise doting husbands into inattentive partners. Hitherto loyal beaus will turn into two-timing infidels as they divide loyalties and time between their girlfriends and their other love: cricket. As the cricket mania reaches a feverish pitch, the battle for the television remote too will get fiercer. But the chances of the womenfolk getting any space in front of the small screen or in a corner of the men’s mindscape are absolutely remote. Not only will the females of the house be unceremoniously consigned to the periphery of consciousness of their male partners, they will also be deprived of their daily diet of soaps. The women will thus become protagonists of the household sob opera.

The wincing wives will have no choice but to hope that Kahin Kissii Roz their supremacy over the idiot box will be restored. As the guys sit totally bewitched before the small screens, letting out ecstatic shouts at some winning adaa of their beloved (cricketer, of course), heartburn among the better halves will become Kahani Ghar Ghar Ki.

As the guys turn into difficult-to-dislodge couch potatoes, eating, drinking and even Sleeping With the Enemy, the females will get enough grist to do a Hollywood remake with a male twist, called What Men Want. Each Kutumb will have varied shades of cricket-crazed menfolk whose behavioural diversity may even outmatch the sportsmen’s armoury of tricks.

There will be hubbies and boyfriends whose body language will resemble that of impassioned and irrepressible rakes. They’ll be conspicuous from a distance, whether in the stands or in front of the small screens. They’re the demonstrative suitors who’ll make all kinds of noises and frenzied gestures when their icons appear on the field/screen. They’re the ones who’ll blow kisses at a maiden (over), do an impromptu jig or flourish their arms with such animation and energy that the makers of Boost may be tempted to rope them in for their commercials instead of Sachin. Their decibel levels, when they swear undying allegiance to their nation’s sporting heroes, will be heard far and wide. But then it won’t take them long to shift loyalties to performers who appear more promising than their own. They’re rakes with a roving eye, after all. Their ardour will make them the owner’s (wife) envy and player’s pride. And their overt passion for the ‘queen’ of Indian sport will make their spouses wonder: Kyon Hota Hai Pyarr.


On the other end of the spectrum will be the silent admirers. They’ll watch, they’ll follow every move but rarely will they voice their appreciation. A guffaw of delight or a grunt of disappointment will be the only display of emotion these monosyllabic lovers will allow. They’re not the ones to wear their heart on the sleeves. You won’t catch them yelping with jubilation at a catch by Yuvraj. Nor will they duck with shame into their pillows the minute Ganguly is, God forbidding, out for a duck. This doesn't mean their adrenalin levels won’t somersault every time Sachin or Sehwag send a ball for a toss. It’s just that their display of feelings is as minimal as the score usually mustered by their home team. Their muted and measured responses to the ‘mistress’ will not be really annoying for the wives, who may actually begin to view cricket as
Kabhi Souten Kabhi Saheli.

Close cousins of the silent admirers will be the clinical lovers. More than the game (pun intended), they’ll be interested in the statistics. They’ll be obsessed with figures. The past of their beloved will matter to them as much as her present. It’s the numbers that’ll shape their interest and the vital statistics that’ll fire their imagination and passion! Any talk about conquests in the boys’ locker room will be dominated by them. They will boast about figures with the rapidity of Harbhajan’s spin.

Their interest in the game is like having a psychoanalyst for a lover. Each action is decoded, each motion is dissected with detached clinical objectivity. They treat each girlfriend as a new chapter on psychological insights. And each match as a fresh case study. So preoccupied are they with scores that the Kasautii Zindagi Kay for their women is how to figure them out!

If the clinical ones will put a player’s move to microscopic scrutiny, there will be those who’ll keep their date with them while on the move. Despite their jam-packed schedules and touring jobs, they’ll be no less inclined to succumb to the allure of the game. They’re the roaming romantics. Their tribe comprises jet-setting sales executives, globetrotting corporates and CEOs on the go. Between all the touring and commuting that they have to juggle, they won’t skip catching up with skipper action. They’ll have a ball while on the move, all thanks to the latest gizmos and gadgets at their disposal. From TV screens fitted in swank car interiors, palmtop DVDs to the state-of-the art mobile handsets, the ‘mistress’ will beckon them at every port of call. Though they’ll not physically challenge their wives’ place before the small screen, the long-distance husband-ing that they ordinarily do, in the form of mushy messaging, will take a backseat as they’ll drive around totally tuned in to their other love. With these hubbies playing all the more truant in the coming month, their spouses might end up being Kabhi Biwi Kabhi Jasoos.

The stationary version of these (upwardly) mobile cricket lovers will be the stylish suitors. For them watching cricket will be an elaborate ritual. Any viewing of their favourite sport will be done in the select company of their boozing buddies over a bottle of whisky, rum or beer. As will unfold a match so will flow the Bacardis or Kingfishers. The ups and downs of the game will get a truly spirit-ed response from them. If their men in blue score low they’ll have even more reason to get high. The shabab of their women will be totally lost on them as they get totally lost in sharab, kabab and cricket lajawaab.

As a new drama will unfold in front of the small screens in the next 40 days, women can take solace in the fact that just as Kyunki Saas Bhi Kabhi Bahu Thi is the mother all soaps, the World Cup, for their men, is the father of all sporting spectacles!