Here in this dilapidated stadium
young boys in white shirts and trousers
absorbed in the game of willow
strike a familiar secular scene,
quite different from the much feared picture
of youth brandishing grenades and guns
that one hears about Kashmir .

But was cricket ever just a sporting game
in our religiously charged atmosphere?
Were we not always at the receiving end
of the ire of partisan mobs
during India - Pakistan matches here?
We were stoned and sworn at
if India won a match;
we were taunted and teased
if she lost;
we were forced to join their celebrations
in India ’s defeat
and in their mourning in her victory!
We had lost the right
to express our opinions and emoticons.

Was it not in this stadium,
somewhere in the nineteen eighties
when, to the utter amazement of the Caribbeans,
the crowds cheered every run they scored
and hooted the hapless Indian fielders,
and jeered at the fall of Indian wickets
in the first and only cricket international
ever played in Srinagar ?

That day, the hate-filled crowds
wrote the epitaph for the game of cricket
for the young boys fancied the Kalashnikov
over the famously indigenous willow.

Are we witnessing a change of heart now?
Are the boys fed up with the gun
and wanting to return to some fun?

Why shouldn’t cricket cement ties
rather then sunder them apart,
and, like music, dance and literature,
cut across all boundaries and barriers
of language, religion and region?

(From "Homeland after Eighteen Years - a 48- hour Travelogue" by K LChowdhury),

Read another poem on Cricket in the May issue of shehjar at:
*Dr. K L Chowdhury Dr. K L Chowdhury retired as a Professor of Medicine, Medical College, Srinagar. Presently he is the Director of a charitable institution, Shriya Bhatt Mission Hospital and Research Center, Durga Nagar, Jammu.
He is a physician and neurologist, a medical researcher, poet, social activist. He writes on diverse subjects – medical, literary, social and political and has numerous research papers to his credit, his pioneering work being “The Health Trauma in a Displaced Population” which was presented at national and international conferences.
He has published three anthologies namely:
1- “Of Gods, Men and Militants”. Minerva Press (Pvt.) India -2000
2- “A Thousand-Petalled Garland and other Poems”. Writers Workshop Kolkata – 2003
3- “Enchanting world of Infants” Peacock Books, Atlantic Publishers and Distributors-2007
He was declared Shehjar's ' Kashmiri Person of the year ' for 2007.
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