Such a feeling's coming over me!
So, she is gonna be here again.and she has already got me irreversibly crazy. My love affair began way back in 1998 at France. The first crush of nascent adolescence occurred while playing Fifa 98 on the PC. First high graphics quality football game I had ever played and it was love at first sight. I began to flirt with the game in reality at a local football camp and fell for her intense charms and deft moves. The crush had turned into strong feelings.
France 98 was her first visit that I had ever witnessed. It was hard to keep all her match dates. A schoolboy still, I was not allowed to go out and stay up till midnight. I could only catch her in the evenings and though it was a well known fact that she was her charming best at late nights, I was thankful of the time I spent with her. She played expectantly true to most of her traits, giving me my first joyful Ronaldo and Brazilian moments. She made me familiar with her famed Italian relatives, namely Roberto Baggio, about whom I had heard so much about and was in awe. She also threw a few surprises. Namely Croatia in the semis and France the eventual champions. I was not allowed to go and watch the tragic English play, depicting their dramatic loss to Argentina. I was very angry with myself for having missed watching performances of David Beckham and the young promising Micheal Owen. I only could catch the reruns of the play and read newspaper clippings. I fell in love with the English performers and even parted my hair from the center, like Beckham, even though I was teased at school for it. She left after a full month, but it seemed very little time, as lovers will tell you. For the first time in my life I suffered from withdrawal symptoms and pined for her to come back soon. I was in love with her. But it was too early to tell.
She decided to arrive in Korea and Japan after four years and I decided to follow her keenly. Still in the last year of high school, peaking in my teens and passion pimples showing, I was allowed spend more time with her. Guys at school were doing the same. It happens at that age. She was kind in spending time with us from afternoons till evenings. She was not going to make us chase her, or sneak out with her late at nights. She got us a bag full of surprises consisting of South Korea, Turkey, Senegal and USA. She shocked us by her behavior with France and Argentina. I began to understand that she demanded the best, reputations not withstanding. The only vivid memory I have of her visit is sitting in the school's biology lab, fiddling with a small plant and chemicals and glancing at my watch every single minute and predicting with a classmate proceedings of the Brazil-England quarterfinal. I had requested for a leave that day, but it had been shot down. I rushed home, climbing the stairs mad like a hero in search of his long lost princess. Alas! Another epic English tragedy had been missed. She had given us the amazing gift of a curling Ronaldinho freekick, I had been a fool to miss it. She gave us her famous Brazilan champions this time too. It was my first time to see them being crowned champions. I wish I had been born a generation earlier to have seen more of them. As she left this time, I confessed my love to her. She promised to be back soon.
This time Germany caught her fancy and mine too. I vowed to myself to spend every single day of her month long visit with her. I was 19 then, an adult and fully capable of making such decisions. I stayed up late at night every single day partying with her. But I learnt that too much football caused a bad hangover the next morning. I couldn't think straight, couldn't work, couldn't study. But I was hopelessly obsessed with her. I suffered splitting headaches on some mornings, yet I partied with her every night till the wee hours. Hell, I wasn't going to be a teen again. I witnessed my first World cup English tragedy involving Portugal and was left utterly heartbroken. The pain felt evaporated a taste for dramatic tragedies. I was thoroughly impressed by the youthfulness of Germany and Spain, though I didn't like the final Italian opera played out. The experience of being in an intense relationship gave a heady feeling but maintaining it cost a fatigued price.
June 2010 marks the 12th year of our relationship. I've begun to understand her better, can predict her moods and sense when she is about to spring a few surprises. I've become older and mature and seek to spend quality time with her rather than every single minute. We are beginning to respect each others space and time. During this visit of hers, I am going to receive her with open arms, will decorate my home to celebrate her homecoming and party the African way, complete with plastic trumpets. But we won't stay up every night, instead choosing to party late on weekends and big match days only. We'll spend time with friends and relatives and enjoy the togetherness feeling rather than spending time alone by ourselves. I've asked her to get certain particular gifts for me, primarily because we share that kind of a relationship now. I've asked her to give me a Messi with the coolest trick accessories, A second round qualification for at least 2 African teams, one of them being South Africa. I've also asked for a pack of the best Oranje and German performances. But the most pleading requests have been made for a brand new Spanish world champions.
She is expected to arrive with a lot of African verve and I can't wait to meet her. And the moment she pulls out the gifts from her month long trip bag, I am going to wait my turn like a 13 year old schoolboy again. I know that is what she will do to me. She will make me a young, energetic, enthusiastic, joyful child again!
P.S: World cup, I love you.
SHABBIR MULLA MOHAMMAD BHAI LOKHANDWALA - PUNE