The first day of June. Something quite out of the ordinary happened in St. George’s, capital city of the state of Grenada. The teeny-weeny island-country in the Caribbeans was the locale of the last of the seven one-day cricket fixtures between Australia and the West Indies. The Australians had won the first four matches in a row, the series therefore was already decided. The West Indies came back strongly and won the next two.
The match at St. George’s was apparently of no significance, but one never knows in what matter history sprouts when and where. The Australians batted first and scored 247 runs in 50 overs. The home team responded magnificently; by the time the forty-third over ended, the score was 231 for the loss of only a single wicket, that of Chris Gayle. Brian Lara and Wavell Hinds were at the crease; they had treated the formidable Aussie attack with great disdain. To win the game, and make the series at least a respectable 3:4, the West Indies needed to score 17 runs from the remaining 42 balls.
The forty-fourth over commenced, with Lara facing the spin of Darren Lehman. The first ball Lara hit for a soaring six. The West Indies therefore needed 11 runs from the remaining 41 balls. Lehman sent down the second ball of the over, Lara advanced a couple of steps and hit another towering six. To win, the West Indies now were in need of 5 runs from 40 balls. A somewhat fazed Lehman took his time to bowl the next ball, and though he made it as wily as possible, Lara was unrestrainable; with supreme nonchalance, he hit the third consecutive six. The match was over, with thirty-nine left-over balls not needed at all.
The spectacle that followed was unbelievable. An awesome cheer to begin with, and then frenzy took over. It was as if the entire Grenada population — even the entire West Indies — had exploded on the cricket field. The crescendo of the steel bands threatened to turn into smithereens the screens of television sets in cosy living rooms thousands and thousands of miles away.
At the very next moment, a flurry of thoughts invaded the mind. Was one sure the joy and the celebrations were only on account of the three consecutive wins registered by Lara’s team against the hitherto unstoppable Australians' Was it not something far more significant, and not just for the West Indies population' Was the catharsis of emotions not also because the winning streak of the whiteys had been stopped by an all-black team' Was it not, in the subconscious, that this victory on her soil was Grenada’s fitting response to the imperialist intervention two decades ago and the cold blooded-murder of Maurice Bishop' For a couple of minutes or thereabouts, the stream of consciousness indeed threatened to run riot. Images and analogies popped up in wild abandon. Who knows, for some people in some corners of the far-flung globe, the three enormous sixes hit by Brian Lara were perhaps indistinguishable from the 9/11 demolition of the Twin Towers at the World Trade Centre and of that particular wing of the Pentagon'
To be candid, many of the similes crowding the mind were without logical coherence, and could even be attributed if not to a somewhat diseased disposition, at least to a sourish mood. But, then, how does one escape from the objective reality that the malady or the mood was not a figment of imagination; it was a hard datum. It was, and is, the outcome of the post-Iraq situation. The rest of the world has been taught the lesson of its life by the hyperpower. The latter has only contempt for the former. The American administration is not only all powerful, the giver and taker of lives in the six continents; it also believes in rubbing in that nasty fact. All illusion is spent. The re-colonization of Iraq has proved beyond the slightest shadow of doubt that, we, the rest of the world’s population, survive at the mercy of the United States of America.
A humiliating realization, and yet the frail sections of humanity have to lump it. They are an impotent collective mass. They can either declare themselves as serfs and behave suchlike, or grumble silently in their fragile shelters. True, if history has any relevance, a circumstance of this genre is unlikely to be everlasting. Empires collapse. Dynasties fade. Even socialism, dialectical materialism notwithstanding, has stumbled on a wide front. However, just as collapsed empires resuscitate themselves in other venues and other times, revolts and rebellions too are not eternally dead, even socialism is likely to make a strong comeback, in some form or other, in this part of the world or that.
On the same reasoning, there should be existence for the ones who are for the present down and out, beyond serfdom and silent grousing. That apart, there is such a thing as vicarious pleasure: we are afraid to die, therefore we either submit meekly to the hauteur of the hyperpower, or tuck in our anger and grumble in silence. We have a third alternative though. We can gloat whenever the beastly enemy encounters discomfiture. This vicariousness, who can deny, has gone from strength to strength in the wake of the Anglo-American occupation of Iraq. So much so that, all over the world, revisionism is suddenly at a premium; considerable retrospective pleasure has begun to be expressed at the calamity that had struck the US on September 11, 2001.
9/11 was a guerrilla operation and, in the light of Iraq, there is much ex post justification voiced of that kind of manoeuvre. The enemy is too rich and too powerful; we cannot annihilate it in open warfare, we cannot even dare to defy openly its claim to omnipotence. But there are a few courageous ones here and there who do not flinch from bearding the lion in its own den. Al Qaida did precisely that. So discard the wisdom transmitted by the Western media and praise Osama bin Laden and his followers.
Such is then what George W. Bush has done to the human race. It has taught at least some segments of humanity to believe in the nobility embedded in heartless activities of the sort 9/11 exemplified. For the conviction has spread that sporadic, minor acts of cruelty and heartlessness are only gestures of response to indescribable greater acts of cruelty and savagery. 9/11 had a pre-history.
What is still bothersome is the spree of free associations which then overwhelms sects, groups and communities. Solace is sought in similes. Symbols assume charge. Those three gigantic sixes hit by Brian Lara are interpreted as a riposte by hapless humanity to the indescribable excesses committed by the hyperpower.
Upto this point, the freewheeling imagination can be put up with, often comfortably, sometimes with a bit of unease. Explanations sprout. In any event, we are victims of Newton’s law of thermo-dynamics; the unanimous verdict tends to be that, in the ultimate analysis, it is George W. Bush who is the villain of the piece. But the matter hardly ends there since, in the post-Iraq phase, an uncontrollable desire is surging within diversely situated millions of souls to repaint the world in black and white terms, and to consider 9/11 as a fitting reply on behalf of the non-whites to the barbarities perpetrated over long centuries by the despicable whiteys.
This is perhaps the commentary on what the incumbent US president has done to the world, and for that he should be answerable before the tribunal of history. He has succeeded in redefining the world on racial terms. The three sixes hit by Lara — take thus, and take this, and again take this — are no longer a good, clean, exciting finish to a game of cricket. They promise to find a niche in the annals of global racial strife as a great triumph scored by one side over the other. Thereby the human civilization has been set back by several centuries.