If you’re Sri Lankan, one of the thrills in your life
Is to watch a match of cricket on TV,
Especially when it’s a little shortened
And all the players are wearing colored clothes.
You sit in front with a mixture packet
(little assortment of nuts and fried flour)
And a bottle of coke beside you
Both assured of not making it till the end
Of the match, after all, the throat swallows
More tit-bits and glugs the fizz
Than the eye swallows the dismissals
Or the agricultural slogs over cow corner.
And it is a hobby, a pastime, even a madness
The crazed sight of a man on a couch,
Alone, shouting at a TV, in filth sometimes,
And always an arm-chair critic, who paces
His words to the action on TV.
And he knows all the wrongs of team selection
Shot making, even the change of bowlers
Yet he has only watched 600 odd matches
In his short of history of being a cricket fan.
You love mad-max AKA Aravinda De Silva
Who is a compulsive hooker
Not the type that walks shady alleyways
And lunges the fore-arm forward
To stop the sight-seeing traffic; just
A hooker, a pull of the arms from right to left
To fly a leather ball to square leg.
And now the American will wonder
How can a leg be square, and to that
The Sri Lanka will say, that’s where horizontal
Shots are made to the leg – and leg denotes
Left of way. And a match has more twists
And turns than a manic depressive day
Of mania and slumber. It has the adrenaline
Spurts, when the man on the couch
Knocks on his rocket propellers and makes
A jump to bipedalism. Then there are the dances
Enchanted sometimes, when you make
Your arms go off to spacey places
And make your waist a hula hoop. There are too
War dances that dwarf the Haka, fists pumping
Blood boiling and filth exploding from open lips.
And all that is for the love of a game
A game that colonized a country
Divided by civil war and united
All ethnicities that swarmed over in front of a TV
For a cleansing of anxiety. The Xanax to
The war-torn, a liberation of the heart
From the nagging worry of how to make ends meet
Or survive shrapnel wounds.
And that game makes a little Sri Lanka
Larger than life, knowing that a little
Piece of wood is all it takes to swat away
The realities of life. And the sight
Of a leather ball lifting to the sky
Can make a grown Sri Lankan man
Forget about sex and the number six, is just
A grown man’s way of losing his marbles
In a jiffy. And unlike the Canadians
We don’t watch Ice Hockey and fist-scuffles
Doing doggy style in bed. Cricket is a fever
In a nation, starved of real entertainment.
And all it takes is a little man
With strong fore arms, pummel a ball
Over the boundary. That’s when
Lilliputians become Gullivers. When
The South Asian man can finally
Make anecdotes, reverberating folklore
Of all the exquisite things, his kind can do
With a Big Bat.