I made an effort to get ready that day. Straightened my hair, applied a coat of mascara, and on my lips, a swipe of lip balm. My brother and dad were wearing shades of blue while my cousin and I flaunted the Indian jersey. As we entered Trent Bridge, the cold breeze brushed my hair and the drizzle kissed my face. I couldn’t stop smiling.
A sea of blue covered the stadium and for the first time in seven days, I saw a place filled almost entirely by Indians. The buzz of excitement and the positive energy of the place was soothing. My designated photographer (my brother) waited for me to pose near the boundary line with the Indian flag. The picture had to be perfect- after all, I was making my debut as a spectator at a World Cup game. As the camera captured every single moment of that morning, the World Cup trophy was placed 50 metres away from me. Goosebumps covered every inch of my skin. It stood there in all its glory, shining bright like a diamond. We were going to lift this trophy this year, I was certain.
The spirit of the stadium didn’t dampen, even as the drizzle continued. I sat there with my family, absorbing it all and thought about how we had planned an entire family trip around this day. I thought of how my best friends were more excited for me than I was for myself. ‘Oh my God Shriya, you are about to live your dream,’ they said. I chuckled at this thought.
The drizzle nearly turned into a downpour. The umpires looked worried, the players were peeping out of the balcony, and spectators started covering their heads. My hands were frozen, my nose was red, and my teeth were chattering. But I was still smiling, I was so close to living my dream. I looked around, people were clicking pictures with their families and friends, some were on FaceTime with their dear ones, while some simply waited for the game to start.
It stopped drizzling all of a sudden. The covers were finally coming off. The big screen read- ‘Next inspection in 10 minutes’. The stadium roared with thunderous joy. It was happening, my dream was becoming a reality. In a few minutes, I would be singing the national anthem and chanting ‘Indiaa! Indiaa!’ I squealed and clapped four times. The excitement was consuming me.
The stadium was still bustling when the covers were put back on. My brother and father decided to go back to the hotel room, but I wanted to wait. “Call us when the game starts,” they told us and left. While they were leaving, the big screen displayed the 2011 World Cup Final. The big screen was the centre of attention and many were asking each other, “Where were you when this happened?”
Someone sitting next to me told his friend, “Abbe, Wakhede mein hain yaar humlog, Trent bridge nahi.” To which his friend replied, “Chup re, Mahi bhai chakka marenge abhi.” And it happened, Mahendra Singh Dhoni’s world cup winning chakka and Ravi Shashtri’s famous line was met with another roar at Trent Bridge. I got goosebumps and in an instant, my eyes welled up. It was magical.
The drizzle turned into rain. The sight of the world cup trophy going back inside crushed my heart. My cousin said it was time to leave. As I made my way out, I turned around and looked at the stadium. It was still covered in the sea of blue. People were singing, dancing and eating. It was like a festival. It felt like a stadium in India. It felt like home. My family told me that soon I would get to live my dream again, very soon. My brother and father had started planning for the 2023 World Cup. But I was still heartbroken and devastated.
That night when I went to bed, I realised that singing the national anthem or watching the team play was never really my dream. I was at a stadium in a different country with my cousin and the two people who made me fall in love with the game. I was part of an atmosphere which not many are fortunate to experience. I relived one of the most important moments of my life. I was wearing my favourite item of clothing and saw the World Cup trophy. That moment I knew that this was my dream and my dream was now a reality.
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