BY THE time Nurul Kabir arrived, about half an hour late, due to traffic congestions for our lunch appointment, India had lost two wickets. I had finished taking two morning classes in a row and as it usually happens then, my sugar level was low.
Stuck near Gulshan 1, he had called to ask me to start eating. We are both diabetic; so, we know that long periods without food can be fatal. I ordered a lentil soup. Meanwhile, India was getting squeezed by Bangladesh bowlers. I found the soup energising. Indians were not very perky at this point when I tried to help Kabir decide what to eat. he settled for a beef chilli and asked for extra heat in it. One could say that Bangladeshis bowlers were producing that at Malaysia.
WE HAD no business to chat over but journalists always end up talking about media. He also shared his plans for the future. We have been in the trade for over three decades; so, few things are secret in the industry. We know what goes on, who is on the take, which media workers is close to whom, how journalists become part of the spook agency plans, etc. They were personal experiences. We knew them all and knew what happened to the tempted ones. I asked how so many end up as non-media working expats after a great flashy period at home. We speculated why; and we both agreed on the answers. They are our friends but keep a distance now.
Meanwhile covering the distance between the two wickets was getting increasingly difficult for the Indians. Suddenly, a decent score — whatever counts on a pitch like that — seemed a bit remote. Bangladesh was running through the Indian line-up like the knife Nurul Kabir was using to slice a bun to eat before the beef chilli arrived. I had ordered peas-mushroom curry.
Meanwhile, the Indian captain Harmanpreet had arrived to bat.
A VERY interesting issue that came up was the urbanisation of intellectuals and intellectual insecurity. Kabir holds that some of those who are our leading lights actually operate in the crude agrarian mindset space,
unable to make the jump to a sophisticated urbanity. He gave several examples and I shared my own experience with people who feel proving one knows is more important than knowing itself.
Nurul Kabir is, of course, more committed to his egalitarian-Left position while I am a value-neutral causalist. He took several spoons of the beef curry while I found peas-mushroom good. His enthusiasm for the dish he had ordered was not high, it seemed. But we were chatting without any agenda and the lunch was an excuse to ruminate over anecdotes.
Being given out for obstruction is rare but that has what happened in the match for India and Anuja Patil. But The Indian captain had marched on, nearing her fifty.
Kabir was right. The beef curry was very bland, shorn of any chilli or heat. I had had a chilli chapati the night before and sneezed for 15 minutes apart from having a runny nose after it. This was almost sweet. With a touch of poignancy he remembered the day when he had bamboo shoot with naga chillis in Bangkok.
The India captain perished in the last ball of the innings. Eight Indian warriors had fallen in 20 overs for 112.
SOME industry gossip, some international politics gossip, some funny stories of powerful people trying to bribe media, etc over coffee suited the mood. Bangladesh had made 42 for two by the seventh over. It had looked good for them. But soon Poonam Yadav had struck and there was rapid loss of wickets. At 66 for 3 after 14 overs, nobody could be sure who had more advantage. We were on using online media and how it could become a revenue generation factor.
By the 15th, things had again started to look good for Bangladesh. Nigar Sultana was batting with confidence. Kabir took a call from his office. I got a wrong number. I put splenda into my iced water and made a drink.
It was the 19th over.
SAYING good-bye, he offered a lift which I declined as walking is quicker to my home. He had the newspaper’s content to supervise and I had my column to write for the paper he edits. I was walking as the first ball was bowled. The second ball went for a four. The fourth was out. The fifth was out. One ball and two runs.
‘Harmanpreet Kaur to Jahanara Alam, 2 runs — Bangladesh win the Asia Cup! Full one on middle, slugged away after a shimmy towards deep mid-wicket for a brace! The fielder at deep mid-wicket was too slow, and did not manage the best of throws to the keeper. The Bangladeshi batsmen were scrambling with all their might, putting every ounce of their energy and channelling their inner Usain Bolts. A dive is put in, the dive of glory, and the cup is theirs! (Cricbuzz) Last bowl victory
THE hit, the desperate dash, the win, and history was made. It was one of the most memorable moments of my life. When I reached home and saw the results I screamed, choked on my emotions and through my tears began to write. It was so incredible that right then I decided that every time Bangladesh plays an important match, I will invite Nurul Kabir to lunch. Fans will try anything to win.
Afsan Chowdhury is a journalist and researcher.
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