How I Bonded With My Mother In Law Over Our Mutual Love Of Cricket!

Coming from a family where cricket was considered an all-male sport and I discouraged from watching it as "un-womanly", I was in for a pleasant surprise after marriage!

It was 2nd April 2011. Last and final match of the ICC World Cup. India was competing against Sri Lanka in the final. All eyes were fixated on the TV screen, especially on Dhoni who was on the striker end. India needed a mere four runs to win the World Cup trophy.  Kulasekara was chosen to deliver the 49th over. He tosses the ball in the air and delivers it, Dhoni lifts his bat hits the edge of the ball and the white ball goes flying over the ground. Our gaze follows the trajectory of the ball.

The ball crosses the boundary line and drops in the stadium making it a huge six, a winning shot for India. The entire auditorium goes wild with thunderous applause followed by a big shout-out to the Indian team.

The dressing room erupts with joy. Yuvraj Singh on the non-striker end envelops Dhoni with a hug. India won the World Cup. Another history was created after 28 long years since 1983 when India had witnessed its first historic victory. A much-needed and much-awaited win for India to make  India the world champion again. It was certainly India’s night that day.

I with a bunch of girls were watching it in our hostel.  The entire girl’s hostel reverberated with the sound of excitement and happiness. Some blew the whistle, and some banged the steel plates to express their spirit and emotions. We were on cloud nine. The night had turned into a thunderous jolt of excitement and joy for all of us.

What made this season more special and remarkable for me was witnessing a woman (Mandira Bedi) sitting in the commentary room in the far land giving a descriptive account and a detailed analysis of cricket. She was amongst the first few women to have hosted a cricket tournament on television. Her fervour and passion for cricket fueled my enthusiasm for cricket and made me crazier for cricket than before.

Although, till some time ago, it was not considered reasonable for women to take a keen interest in watching sports let alone play sports or think of a career in sports.

My interest in cricket kicked in when I was in middle school and as I grew up, my interest in cricket also grew.

“It’s a man’s game, what are you doing here?”

Not to mention all the male members of the household had an immense interest in watching and playing cricket. They would all sit together and immerse themselves in the pleasure of the game whenever a match happened. When I bunked my studies to watch cricket I used to be reprimanded by my mother as well as other elders of the family, being the only girl in the family exhibiting this level of fascination towards cricket!

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This is a man’s game and only they watch it with interest. Why are you having ants in your plants? Why are you so interested? Hold your horses and cease your growing interest in sports. This is a boyish thing and a manly affair. Girls are not supposed to have this much interest in sports.

Saying this they would try to put me off and send me to make tea or help Mother with the other home chores or do my studies.

“Who said this, who made such a disgusting rule? Why such discrimination and why should boys have all the fun?” I often reflected in my mind but never dared to verbalize it.

But this didn’t deter my interest at all and I still managed to watch it inconspicuously without grabbing anybody’s attention.

Had I inherited my love for reading or cooking from my parents I would have been applauded and appreciated much, but inheriting such madness for cricket was sure not to bring me any praise or accolades.

Though I struggled a bit in the beginning, later on, my unwavering enthusiasm and growing curiosity for cricket did not let them stop me from watching the game.

The successive waves of change were already in the air and the penchant and passion for cricket were growing fast in the women’s community as well.

Then I got married

It was just a few months after my marriage. I was in Sasural. There was a final match between India and Pakistan scheduled for the day. My enthusiasm and excitement were at the peak. I was not able to contain my curiosity and hovered around the TV to turn it on. But pangs of doubt and hesitancy crept in. What will my inlaws think about me and my overwhelming euphoria for cricket?

I drew myself back. My mother-in-law emerged from nowhere and asked me to turn on the TV. There is a match between India and Pakistan today.  She said eagerly and made herself comfortable on the couch The curiosity and thrill of excitement in her eyes spoke volumes about her inclination toward cricket. I don’t want to miss on India batting she asserted avidly.

I was stunned listening to what was coming from my MIL. She loves cricket too,  my mind replayed in utter disbelief. It sparked my excitement to another level. We both not only sat together and indulged ourselves in the pleasure of watching the game but it also brought us together dissipating our disputes and conflicts over petty things. Thereafter talking and connecting on the topic of cricket became more of a ritual for both of us.

Witnessing a woman from the prior generation having such passion and fervour for sports was an absolute pleasure for me. And I realized how prevalent this game has been for a long time and how it has enticed people from all generations from across the globe.

And I also found a partner in this pleasure, which made watching the game more fun than ever before.

Image source: ICC Cricket The image is for representation only

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