By Sunayana Kachroo
Special to INDIA New England News
“Time is eternal, permanent. What changes is You and Me”- Gulzar.
Tom Brady has earned his spot in the Superbowl once again, but this time without the New England Patriots. Number 12 has a new jersey, a new team, and a new mission. As I watched him play and win the game against the very talented and equally deserving Aaron Rodgers, the conflicting emotions of joy and void engulfed me. Just when the world assumed that Tom was going to ease his way out of the football world by moving to the retirement capital of the USA; he sweated his way while earning every mark on the stats that can be called anything but “easing out”. In this tango between Tom Vs Time, it seems that Time prefers to dance on Tom Brady’s side.
It was only a year back that we were hearing the echoes from the Sports gossip-chambers that Brady probably will make the switch from Patriots. As inevitable as it seemed at the end of Patriots’ run for the coveted trophy a year before, we all readied ourselves knowing that the winter was probably coming. A possibility that we all were aware of but didn’t want to think about. In our minds, Brady and Patriots were, what we call in India “Do Jism Ek Jaan” (Two bodies one soul). Destiny played its cards, Brady put his mansion up for sale, looked for opportunities elsewhere, and moved to a warmer home at Tampa. Rest, as they say, is not a mystery. It played out like a script of a movie. Buccaneers qualified to be in the playoffs while the Patriots didn’t.
Now that I have endured his move and while I am still nursing my broken heart from the Patriots loss, it seemed like a good moment to pause and reflect on Brady’s journey with us and my transition from being a staunch Cricket loyalist to an American football fan.
Let me set the record straight at the onset – I was not a sports fan but I am married to one. Here is my story.
We moved to the USA from India almost 20 years back. With the possibility of realizing our dreams and a handful of desires in our pockets, we also brought with us our love for Cricket. Cricket is the sport that we love, breathe, and worship. When we moved here, I quickly adapted to the quintessential American way of living, culture, and food. It didn’t take too long for Curd to become Yogurt and Brinjal to become eggplant. Soon, I was listening to the local radio, weather channels, celebrity gossips, and consuming whatever Diane Sawyer served in the mornings. I gasped at Oprah’s Aha moments too!
While I was going through this rapid metamorphosis, my husband exhibited no signs of such transformation. He progressed very well at his work but he was still holding on to the friends in India or those who crossed the ocean with us. Though he was a sports fanatic, it was strange to see him being unimpacted by American football. He still only watched and followed Cricket. He would wake up at the odd hours to see the game and only considered Sir. Sachin Tendulkar the God of the sporting world. Anyone else taking his place would be a sign of betrayal. We almost snoozed through the Patriots two Superbowl wins.
It is hard when we leave the safe cocoons of our countries, our families and with that, we leave anything familiar to chase our dreams. Letting go of your roots so that you can fly and touch the sky is never easy. While we were building our life here, we continued to follow the sporting events and Films in India.
And then, as it only happens in the movies, football quickly sneaked into our lives. It began with an occasional mention of Tom Brady, to watching and understanding the rules of the sport, to taking a day off for the game, to losing sleep over games, to wearing the team jersey even while going to Seattle.
My husband was changing his loyalties to his new sports hero.
South-Asian American families live with hyphenated identities. A mix of who we were and what we are now. My son, who is born and raised here sometimes finds it hard to share his experiences, colloquial anecdotes, metaphors, and the lingo that comes with being born here. His heroes, his friends, and his pride in this country is something we are only learning through him. Those small inside jokes, historical references, we sometimes don’t get it. Our learning involves a lot of unlearning too. There are perks to this dual identity too, but more of that some other time.
However, it is only in sports that my husband and my son find a thread that binds them together, a common ground, something to share…something to talk about and fight about.
What amuses me the most is that South Asian Bostonians especially from India and Pakistan, who not only consider each other arch-rivals in cricket but also share a bitter history of partition are united under one team, one symbol, and one passion. Who would have thought that those who never crossed borders can come together across the oceans! Sometimes, distance gives you that perspective.
Tom Brady is not just a Quarterback or a sportsman, he represents an idea…of being an underdog who was overlooked and somehow made it to the top slot and never left; a phoenix that rises from the ashes. South Asians have a strong appetite for such stories, our movies are a testament to that. In my filmy mind, I had almost envisioned Brady hanging on to the Temple bell at the in film city Mumbai and saying “ Bhagwan, Aaj Khush To Bahut Hoge Tum” (God! you must be very happy to see me here).
So, when Tom Brady ended the weeks of anxiety-induced speculations and decided to take the next step in his football journey, I wasn’t heartbroken but felt a deep void. It felt like someone took my life album and yanked some pages off.
How would Brady even look in another jersey? I painfully avoided his news and views on the TV, it was almost like seeing your Ex, sitting with his new girl. It was bound to hurt the heart and the eyes too.
As the season kicked off, my husband continued following Brady and enjoyed watching him play. While I pretended that Brady doesn’t exist but secretly checked his scores and stalked him on Instagram. Eventually, I had no choice but to get used to watching Brady in his new gear, in his new arena. As it turns out, it wasn’t as catastrophic as I had thought it would be! My love for Brady or his sport was deeper than a team change.
It suddenly dawned upon me that when people become a part of our journey, their moving on is painful but it also allows us to understand and experience the transient nature of this life. There are no permanent teams, what is permanent is only game.
On the days when cricket and football matches conflict, my husband watches cricket on the phone and football on TV. I follow three teams now, Team India, Patriots, and Tom Brady.
Because Tom Brady is an idea…….
I end with a dialogue from the blockbuster Indian movie DDLJ and a meme: Jee Ley Apni Zindagi Brady (Go live your dreams Brady).
(Sunayana Kachroo is a poetess based in Boston, and author of “Waqt Se Pare –Beyond Time.” She also has written songs and dialogues for movies.Recently, Indian singer Sonu Nigam sang a song (Kuch Baaqi hai ) written by Kachroo for the movie Half Widow. Other songs composed by her include “Baras Jaa, Door baitha piya” ekal song by Anuradha Palakurthi; Tera Haath sung by Hrishikesh Ranade, 2009 SaReGaMaPa Marathi winner; and Pyar main nadaan sung by Jasraj Joshi-2013- SaReGaMaPa winner.)