Tidings from Hell…


Like most imaginative individuals who have an abundance of free time, I often amuse myself with images of what hell would be like. I tend to agree with the general sentiment that the usual fire and steel rods routine should suffice as decent enough punishment for the regular person. But then again, I am no regular person. I am a cricket fan.If God is smart about it, he would realize quickly that there are better ways of making me repent my sins.

When I think about an eternal punishment custom designed for me, the first logical question that springs to mind is about the devil. Maybe it’s just me, but I feel strongly that any devil worth his salt should at least be able to torture me with his words. After much deliberation I’ve decided to use Sanath Jayasuria for the role of the devil. I find it appropriate that Jayasuria’s voice accompanies me in what should be the biggest punishment of my life.

The plot begins with my orientation in Hell where the devil, Jayasuria is giving me a personal guided tour . As we walk through a narrow passageway,angry desis are running to all parts. Jayasuria points towards  a small room on the right. Glad for a chance to escape the chaos, I oblige. Jayasuria straps me to the chair in the center and turns on the TV. Imran Farhat is batting.

“You will watch this for the next two hours”, he squeaks into my ear, “every time Farhat misses the ball, I’ll have a surprise for you”.

Jayasuria has a nasty smile on his face. Despite the situation, I find it hard to take him seriously.

“How bad can this be?”, I think to myself. “Farhat should at least be able to touch the ball”.

And then I start watching. Farhat is trying to drive at every ball and is missing most of his shots. Every time he misses, Jayasuria beats me with a bat. Despite the situation, the cricket fan in me can’t help but admire how powerful Jasyasuria’s bat swing is.  On the odd occasion when Farhat strikes the ball, Jayasuria decides to reward me by commentating on it.  By the end of the two hours both my body and ears are writhing in pain.

As Jayasuria unstraps me from the chair, I realize that I desperately need to use the loo. Hopefully, I turn to Jayasuria and ask him if I can be excused for a couple of minutes. He chuckles to himself. Quietly, he walks me to the other room. He does his routine of strapping me to the chair and turns on the TV. Misbah-ul-Haq is batting.

“As soon as Misbah scores a run, you can leave for the toilet”, says Jayasuria.

I nod thankfully, relieved at the thought that the devil has become sympathetic to my plight.

“This should be over soon”, I think to myself.

One hour later I am still there. Misbah-ul-Haq is stubbornly defending every ball that his thrown at him. His lunges and crouches look even uglier in Hell.  Jayasuria looks at me with a nasty glint in his eye. Scared of tortured again, I keep my eyes on the TV, trying not to concentrate on my bladder which is about to burst.

The Misbah show ends after two hours as he finally gets an inside edge to fine leg and reluctantly crosses over for a run. I am excused for a toilet break. The line to the only toilet in Hell reminds me of the entrance to the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium. The wait is long and painful. Every few minutes, tear gas is thrown into the queue of people.

“They don’t call it hell for nothing”, I think to myself.

To my immense excitement, guy standing next to me in the queue is none other than Salman Butt. Excited, I shake his hand and ask him how his experience in Hell has been.

” It’s all about the country yaar”, he says philosophically.

I ask him if he agrees with being sent to Hell. Disgruntled he replies, ” Evidence kay baghair tow these are just accusations, it’s all a conspiracy against Pakistan”.

Sycophantically, I nod my head in assent and switch the discussion to other matters.  Butt tells me that Mohommad Asif is also in Hell. “In fact,” he adds excitedly, “if you ever wanna get high, you should get in touch with Asif, he’s got a secret stash”.

Not knowing what to make of this piece of information I stand back in line, quietly awaiting my turn for the toilet. Once, I finally reach my destination, I realize that even the toilet reminds of the Rawalpindi Stadium. The less said about it the better.

When I return, Jayasuria is anxious to continue the rest of the tour.

“You must be bored of sitting in a chair by now,” says the devil with a sympathetic tone to his voice. “This should cheer you up”.

Jayasuria points to a new room. As I make my way inside, I see a familiar face smiling at me with an over-abundance of teeth on display. Kamran Akmal is standing there, with his full wicket-keeping gear on looking at me excitedly.

“What is this?”, I ask the devil incredulously.

Jayasuria proceeds to explain that I will be offering catching practice to Kamran Akmal.

“Catching practice! That’s it?”, I scream out in disbelief. Jayasuria winks at Kamran Akmal.

” Well not quite, Mr Assad. You see Mr Akmal has been dropping a lot of catches recently. The responsibility of getting him to catch again has been delegated to you.”

I gulp anxiously. “And what happens if he drops a catch?”, I ask Jayasuria.

The nasty smile on his face provides me the answer to my question.

“Don’t worry Assad bhai, I’ve improved my catching a lot recently. I should even be back in the team soon”, says Kamran Akmal assuredly.

And so we start the catching practice. True to his reputation, Akmal drops the easiest of catches. Similar to the Imran Farhat routine, Jasyasuria punishes me every time the catch is dropped. And sure enough, his bat swing is as powerful as his playing days.

For the last part of the day, Jayasuria takes me to a boxing ring.

“Wait here”, he indicates. After a few minutes, Jayasuria returns with two bulky, powerful men. On a closer look, I identify them to be Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds.

“You’ll be boxing with me today, mate”, says Hayden enthusiastically.

“Boxing with you?”, I ask nervously.

“And when you’re done with him, we’ll do a round too”, chips in Symonds.

It’s a scenario taken right out of my worst nightmare. It is only when I stand in the ring with him that I truly appreciate how big Hayden is,  Symonds is egging him on from the sidelines. Jayasuria meanwhile has taken up the opportunity to offer some running commentary.  For the next one hour, I am at the receiving end of a beating from Hayden. At the end of the rounds, I am ready to pass out.

“Come on mate, it’s my turn now”, says Symonds.

Symonds steps into the ring.Those bulging biceps and whitened lips look scarier than ever before. Braver than I was in the fight with Hayden, I manage to land in a couple of punches. I even throw in a few choice phrases borrowed from Harbajhan Singh. Needless to say, Symonds does not take this well. For the next one hour, my body is the victim of my stupidity.

By the end of this session, I am extremely tired and am ready to hit the bed. Sensing that I could use a break, the devil takes me to the quietest room in the area.

“So you want to sleep?”, he asks me.

“I’d appreciate that”, I reply trying to keep the desperation out of my voice.

“Well, maybe we can do something a little more fun than that”, he suggests.Too brain-dead to speculate, I am already prepared for the worst.

Jayasuria, switches on the TV. Sohail Tanvir and Salim Malik are bowling in tandem. The batsmen in the middle are Jack Russel and Shivnarine Chanderpaul. The batsmen to follow are Daniel Vettorri and Darren Lehman.

“You will watch this for the remainder of the night,” orders Jayasuria.” There is no sleeping in Hell”.


About Assad Hasanain
Follow me on twitter @LeftArmAround

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