Excited, we ran outside as soon as class ended. Our teacher, Mrs. Hassan, was always kind enough not to take time out of our ‘games’ period. First we ran to the sports teacher, Sir Amir, and asked him whether we could get a bat and ball. He wanted to know first whether we really had a games period, and so this took quite a bit of pleading!
There were four of us, enough for two teams of two. We batted first.In the heat of summer, there was a special joy to playing cricket. Physical exertion, the rush of adrenalin, the chance to shout “out hayy!!!” . Back in the day, I took cricket very seriously, which is surprising considering I have stopped following the sport completely. I knew the name of every player on every team, the number of centuries they had scored, their average strike rate, and the records they held. Just like any other normal Pakistani boy. While batting, I enjoyed going in lower in the order, often when the situation was critical. We would always need sixers, either to set up a good score, or to chase an impossible total. Situations that I loved.
On that particular day, I learn’t a simple lesson, and it has stayed with me. When life’s complex challenges present themselves, my thoughts return to this particular day.
With little hope of defending our total, I was bowling the second last over. Only two runs were required by the opposition. and close to twelve deliveries remained.
Though I was prepared for loss, my teammate walked up to me. We discussed the situation and the futility of trying to win the game. However, he said, we must continue to try.
“Never give up,” he said. I did not. We bowled our hearts out. We did not win.
We did not lose either. The match was drawn! In a surprise turn of events, the opposition was simply unable to connect with the ball! After a maiden over, my teammate bowled spectacularly, causing the opposition to panic with each missed delivery. We were able to run their second player out, and the last ball was missed.
Though the bulk of my cricketing days are behind me, this most important lesson has stayed. It is difficult to follow it, difficult often to see the road ahead. Life continues to present its challenges, and we continue to respond. This era, the state of the world around us, has placed upon us tremendous responsibilities. Especially as young Pakistanis, we face a world where the foundations of our nation are questioned everyday. However, when faced with doubt, hardship, intolerance, circumstance, despair, we must remember never to give up, and to struggle till the very end.
May the purity of our childhood experiences strengthen our resolve.