by Ibtesham Hossain, United World College Maastricht
31 July, 2021
Illustration by Daniela Lascurain
My intense drive for this sport was fueled by a certain person. A classmate. My best friend. The closest thing I had to a brother. We shared the common desire of representing Bangladesh at the highest level, playing in the world cup. It was undeniably an extremely ambitious objective, yet not entirely unrealistic. We trained together on a daily basis, devoting hours, days and months to getting closer to our ultimate goal. I was constantly behind him, determined to catch up. I would work twice as hard to get half the results. It frustrated me but served as motivation.
“My love for cricket grew just as much as my love and appreciation for him. We dove head first into turning out dreams into reality. Aware of the dangers the sport brought yet never daunted by it.”
He excelled at everything he tried. He was naturally gifted athletically, intellectually and was labelled “popular”. I used to struggle in school, never the best at making friends and was labelled “quiet”. At ten years of age I had never experienced such comradeship. His presence always came with a sense of comfort with which came confidence. We studied, played, ate, trained, showered, laughed and cried together. I would see him almost everyday and the time I spent with him would usually be the best portion of the twenty-four hours. My love for cricket grew just as much as my love and appreciation for him. We dove head first into turning our dreams into reality. Aware of the dangers the sport brought yet never daunted by it.
I had returned home after our usual training session. It was right after dinner when I received a call. He had passed away. The ball had struck him at the back of the head and he met his end. I pictured that very moment, replaying it in my head thousands of times. The thing he loved the most had taken his life. My mind could not escape the irony of the situation. It took days for me to realize how much I had truly lost. All the confidence I had gathered had suddenly vanished. My passion for cricket, slowly fading. One month and I had not touched my kit. Two months, I kept all my bats in the back of my cupboard. Three months, I threw away all my jerseys and merchandise. Four months, I had given away my favorite batting shoes. Five months, after constant pressure and persuasion from my parents I was convinced to go back. I started practicing again only to realize that playing cricket had become nothing more than a set of motions. I continued training, got better, worked harder but felt nothing. No excitement, no joy, no fear. I continued playing, for years after, on track to turning our dreams into reality. However, those dreams seemed meaningless and I gave up on cricket completely.
Summer of 2020 I moved school and country. Despite my initial distress, I was fortunate enough to have met a few of the best people I know. Once again my quiet and constrained self found comfort in the presence of one particular person. A classmate. My best friend. The closest thing I had to a brother. We lived together in a boarding school. Both shared my new found interest in music. He was much better than me and had taken it on himself to turn me into as good a producer as him. He became my partner for everything. Haircuts, trips into the city, grocery shopping, meals in Mensa. Almost every hour of my life involved his company. He was the perfect example of the fact that time does not define the quality of a friendship. In a matter of five months, I could positively say that I had made a friend like never before. I had grown accustomed to having him around night and day and was never concerned about the possibility that he would have to leave. I was devastated by his sudden departure and found myself in a similar situation as before. The high school experience I had envisioned for myself, shattered. Our plans and expectations, wrecked. Our common passions, growing faint. One month and I had not played my guitar. Two months and my guitar is in the back of my cupboard.