Salman Rashid

Travel writer, Fellow of Royal Geographical Society

Kirkit Again

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Someone connected with kirkit has finally woken up. It’s this man called Lara. But first of all, let’s get one thing straight: his name. It is mispronounced by those speakers of that utterly deficient language called English because they cannot produce the hard palatal r that we of the great subcontinent can.

The man’s name in its uncorrupted form is actually لاڑا which means bridegroom in Punjabi. I don’t know when this blighter got married – or even if he ever did – but it’s a bit of an overkill to continue to call himself bridegroom all the time. If he is not married, I suspect a deep longing for the event to occur in his life. And if he is married the man is bloody suicidal. I suppose he has converted to the one and only true faith.

But whatever. And now that we have this thing right we can proceed with the matter in hand. This لاڑا chap, so I read in the morning paper, tells us that the draw should be abolished from test kirkit. This is exactly what I have maintained since they invented test kirkit. That must have been in 1964 or the year after that a friend took me to an international match.

There we were under the warm February sun watching a pair of gooks in white dresses swinging away at a red ball and missing it most of the time. While they thus played the fool, another bunch of similarly attired idiots let the Punjabi sun melt their brains until it flowed out of their ears.

And the two geriatrics in dark pants and white coats who I thought were doctors from the Lahore Mental Asylum were completely useless. They failed to put these loonies into strait jackets and out of their misery. Maybe strychnine had not yet been invented.

After several days of pointless loafing about on the green, the idlers drew the match. But since they were such lousy artists, their artwork was a piece of shit too. I was only twelve that year but I began to loathe the game. The loathing turned to complete revulsion years later when I heard commentators utter the exasperating phrase: ‘they’re playing for a draw’ or ‘they’re trying to force a draw’.

For goodness sake, how can anyone even call this scam a game when you can actually play it to draw? Especially when you loaf around for days on end and then can only manage a draw.

What I like about this Mr لاڑا is that he is the first man in the history of test kirkit to say something sensible. To bring the game to a logical conclusion, test kirkitters will now have to play for decades, even centuries and millennia. I can imagine kirkitting dynasties: a player comes out in his sparkling white shroud sorry, flannels, swinging his bat at empty air, plays for a few decades but because a result is nowhere in sight and he dies of Alzheimer’s disease at the advanced age of thirty-four, his son comes on to play.

What? You don’t believe anyone can get Alzheimer’s at thirty-four? Why, stay out in the midday sun like mad dogs and Englishmen and you’ll have your brain melt and flow out of your ears. By age thirty-four, there will only remain a tiny kernel rattling about in the brain case. And that’ll be the reptilian brainstem – the most primitive part of the brain, if you didn’t know. Either that or all kirkitters are cretins with not enough grey matter for Alzheimer’s to take root. In this instance, our kirkitter-turned-politician is a sound reference.

If whoever decides how kirkit is to be played listens to Mr لاڑا, a test match begun today will still be in progress through dynasties of kirkitters even as spacecraft Pioneer 10 hurtles past Alpha Centauri, four and a half light years away from us. And that’ll be in many million years from today. That’s the way I like to see my kirkit, that is, with a bloody result.

By the way, I always wondered why they called this horrid game ‘test’ kirkit. Where was the test in it? Then my friend kirkit and golf aficionado Haroun Rashid clarified: the game is a fucking test of your sabr. Loosely translated into English sabr is perseverance and stoicism put together. What else can you call it when you sit through a whole week watching some good for nothing yahoos off the streets of Lahore and Lyallpur periodically take time off from the so-called game to get on their cell phones and calculators to work out which poor play will win them what amount of moolah. And then losing the bloody game.

I have to admit my sabr ran out on that February day half a century ago. Others have not been so fortunate.

Postscript: I said the game will be played for millennia. Not Melania, you idiots! Trump has so far not put her out as the trophy for the man who can play kirkit for a few million years. But he might. Keep an eye on this space for more news.

Related: Oh no, not cricket again

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posted by Salman Rashid @ 12:00 AM,

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My Books

Deosai: Land of the Gaint - New

The Apricot Road to Yarkand


Jhelum: City of the Vitasta

Sea Monsters and the Sun God: Travels in Pakistan

Salt Range and Potohar Plateau

Prisoner on a Bus: Travel Through Pakistan

Between Two Burrs on the Map: Travels in Northern Pakistan

Gujranwala: The Glory That Was

Riders on the Wind

Books at Sang-e-Meel

Books of Days