stuff that hides

(Republished without permission, please go here for more such)

Tears and stuff

Things got a bit intense last evening.

I walked in on my daughter watching a re-run of Jungle Book 2 on television. You know it. Mowgli rediscovers his old friends in the jungle, after discovering hormones in the man-village. My daughter was crying because Mowgli knew he had to return to mankind, and Baloo the bear was giving him a hug to make it easier.

‘Why aren’t you crying?’ My daughter asked me. She was pouring tears. ‘It’s so sad and happy at the same time.’

So I cried a little. I was surprised at how easily the tears came.

We sat there, sniffling, pre-teen daughter and middle-aged father, as the credits rolled up. It felt good to know that in her eyes I wasn’t a wimp.

She went off to bed, as I channel-surfed: a four year-old girl raped in Delhi; real estate dealers in cahoots with politicians brokering a regime-shift in Goa; George W saying something silly; the mess in Andhra Pradesh after police killed protesters demanding government land for the landless; Aussies shipping back Doctor Haneef the terror un-suspect to India. The usual.

Then I chanced on the finals between Iraq and Saudi Arabia at Asia Cup soccer being played in Jakarta. As I watched disbelieving, the Iraqi team—a happy, committed collection of Shias, Sunnis and Kurds leaving angst and vendetta behind—went one goal up. And then won the match.

The entire Iraqi team was crying with joy. They were probably crying in Baghdad and Basra and Kirkuk and up and down the Tigris and Euphrates. I cried, too. If I had a Kalashnikov, I would probably have shot some brass into the air—to hell with my neighbours.

The last time I felt this way over a sporting event was in 1996 when Sri Lanka won the Cricket World Cup. For a brief spell, it brought that torn nation together. Tamil Tigers had declared a ceasefire of sorts for the duration. The government responded. And there was magic. Blood and gore and desperation were kept away for some weeks by the power of emotion woven by eleven people on a green playing field in a foreign land.

Some of that came back, watching the Iraqis win. Maybe they cried because they were happy. Maybe they cried for their nation—they finally could, in public, on live TV as the world watched, and nobody would call them wimps.

(Maybe it’s time someone takes Osama and Dubya, put them in the same cell at Guantanamo, and throws away the keys. That would surely lead to grand celebration in the East and West. I’d cry again, no problem.)

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