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Silence of a chaotic loss

Brazil fans in tears during the semi-final against Germany, on Tuesday

Sao Paulo: Toni Kroos bundled in Germany’s fourth and the taxi driver mumbled something in Portuguese and switched off the small television. He did not think twice whether the passenger would like to watch the match. For him Tuesday was end of the world.

And by the time he pulled over in front of the imposing Ibis hotel in the upmarket Avenue Paulista, Sami Khedeira had got his first and Germany’s fifth. “Sad sad..” the taxi driver said in broken English. One could not agree more with him.

The empty streets and eerie silence in Sao Paulo said it all. Forty-five minutes were gone and Brazil was already in mourning. But at the hotel cafeteria, there were loud cheers and beers were flowing as if there was no tomorrow. You do not have to be a rocket scientist to understand who they were.

The Argentine fans, who came in droves to see their favourite team play the Dutch here on Wednesday, were celebrating Brazil’s humiliation. And after the final whistle, there were hugs and songs. Outside, some were making fun of crestfallen Brazilians. A couple of young ones, upset by all the taunts thrown at them by the Argentine fans, tried to give them back by hurling choicest expletives. But theirs got drowned amidst the roar from the boisterous fans of Lionel Messi.

At the restaurant there was the same mood of heartbreak and dejection. Nobody was ready to talk about this match… About Tuesday.

But the mood was very upbeat before the match, despite the absence of Neymar and Thigao Silva. At the immigration counter of the Guarulhos International Airport there was a buzz. Such was the eagerness of the official to catch the match from the kick-off that she forgot to sign the immigration document. “Match,” she said with a sheepish smile.

And at the currency exchange counter the man was oblivious of the long queue that waited patiently and sang the national anthem along with David Luiz and Julio Cesars. Little did he know then what was in store for him and his favourite team in the next 30 minutes.

As the evening gave way to night, a posse of policemen was deployed near the Ibis hotel. But the fans did not go violent. There were tears of a broken dream…

The Sao Paulo Fan Fest area though had a different picture. Fans vented their ire, they broke chairs, smashed screens… As they say in Brazil, it was quebra-quebra — the term for vandalism.

On television, Ronaldo, the phenomenon, was dissecting the phenomenal loss. The infectious smile was gone, the buck-toothed legend’s face was sombre…. Whether you understand Portuguese or not, you can understand that this man was searching for words. May be he will continue to in many years to come.

As Juninho Permanbacano said on television during a panel discussion, “shattering… this will haunt me till death.” The television screen kept on showing a teary David Luiz bidding adieu to fans… Mueller and Kroos celebrating the biggest German victory…

A tournament which was supposed to exorcise the ghost of Maracanazo when Brazil lost the 1950 World Cup final to Uruguay turned out to be the Mineiraco. The 1-7 humiliation is something the young generation will have to live with probably till death. This is something nobody envisaged.

Wednesday morning was gloomy in every sense. Probably the gloomiest morning this beautiful city has ever seen. Draped in thick cloud, the city woke up to that sinking feeling. The feeling of losing something dear to your heart… The agony of the heaviest defeat in their World Cup history…

Wednesday is a regional holiday here for the July 9 1932’s Constitutionalist Revolution. But when the nation is mourning, there’s no mood for a holiday.

By the way, one Moacir Barbosa, the goalkeeper who made Brazil cry on that sad 1950 World Cup final, can rest in peace now. Maracanazo is passé. It’s all about Mineiraco now… The shame of Mineirao.