Thursday, March 31, 2011


The party, for us, began right after Pakistan lost the semi-final cricket match against India last night. My son Mustafa, who is 5 years old, watched the game with me on a big-screen-gathering and was involved in every moment of the great game.

We are a mother-and-son team. And we teach each other how to live life to the fullest. But, last night, when Pakistan lost the cricket match, we saw a very sad-looking and forlorn Shahid Afridi on TV. He was wearing Green, his fingernails were in his mouth, and his un-shed tears made the most impact on both of us.

Mustafa:  “Momma-Jan, he looks upset!”
Me:  “Yes, Jan-e-Mom, he is upset and quite worried people will not like him as much.”
Mustafa: But I like him…
Me: So do I. And I think it’s quite okay to lose a game. What’s important is to take part and to put up a good show. When you take part in such things it’s called PARTICIPATE.  

Mustafa quickly understood that, because a month ago, he too, had PARTICIPATED in the school’s flat race, on the annual sports day. He didn’t win the trophy but handled defeat quite well.  So, since Mustafa already knew what it is like to try hard and still suffer defeat, he had the perfect plan to help Shahid Afridi (and all his fans) feel better.

Bring out the Pakistan Flag from our car Mom and wave it here!”  He said like he had a plan.

There were about 300 people leaving the venue in disappointment when my son demanded I do something as absurd as cheering the team after we lost. I was most reluctant, but I didn’t want my little kid’s tender heart to feel the pain I was already going through.

I took out the flag from my car’s trunk and helped him raise it. We were the only ones doing it then. I was stiff. Although the flag was up, my head and my eyes were down. I didn’t want to see the expressions on people’s faces because I knew what they would be thinking: “This woman is insanely sarcastic!” Some mocked Team-Afridi for us, and some mocked at us, straight!

Mustafa is a sensitive toddler; he realized this wasn’t going as planned. There was no one joining him or even waiving back at him.
By this time, we were in the car headed home. Ours was the only car in sight with an upright green flag and heavy woofer music in it. Everyone looked sad, depressed, and defeated.  For a moment I was sure I’d get pelted with stones around the Clifton Bridge.

There were many people wearing the green t-shirt. Most had painted faces, some had green bandanas still on, but no one (Trust me, NO ONE) was smiling. People's morale was down. We saw groups of young people, sitting at food joints, smoking, exchanging SMS messages, and sulking.

Turn back the car Momma-Jan. Let’s go to the Candy Store…” suggested my son. “No way, Mustafa! Nothing  Doing!!!” I was in no mood to buy the kid any candies especially not since we hadn’t had dinner either.   He pleaded, “It’s not for me...Let’s buy Candies and give them out to all the people wearing green today!!”

I loved the idea, and agreed to buy him some. We bought 2 boxes. But I was still not sure how to pull this one off. We needed an execution strategy. And soon, that too, came from my little Mr. Saint!

Next, I stopped at a take-away joint to order some dinner. Mustafa got down with his flag and candies, barely able to balance both in his little hands. Deep down inside, the kid was balancing defeat with a reason to party. And he found it!!

At first, he offered candy to random people in the drive-through and no one was interested in it as such. Just then he announced, “Anyone who wants this candy please say ‘Well-Played Pakistan!’ ” . Suddenly one man approached him and said it out loud. It was a head-turner and in no time, everyone around got involved. People were now cheering out loud “Well-Played Pakistan!” at the top of their voice. The candies were a big hit, and everyone wanted one straight away.

Mustafa played his cards well, now he was dispensing them to only those people with the most number of supporters of their own. He got these groups of families and friends involved. I was letting him play his game all alone yet, watching him constantly from a distance. Suddenly there were so many people around him, I almost lost sight of my “Street-Star” and panicked. The large assembly left me with no choice but to cut the crowd, pick him up and take him away. While he was a local celebrity for the Moment, I was his Security Manager.   

Just when we were loading in the car, another one parked right next to ours. An old man with white hair, and very low spirits, looked at the flag, the left over candy boxes,  and sarcastically called out to my boy, “Yeah Kid, Team Pakistan has won the big match…NOT! You can party all you like now…” There was a short pause and then came quick the reply from my son, “Uncle, it’s quite okay to lose a game. What’s important is to take part and to put up a good show. When you take part in such things it’s called PARSI-PI-TATE. “
Being just 5 years old, sugar got the better of my son’s generosity. Throughout this whole episode the kid had managed to stash one last piece of candy secretly and tightly secured in his fist. It was for himself I think. Mustafa extended that very fist towards the grumpy man, offered him this cherished treasure of his, and very rightly punctuated his statement with the gesture!