It must be a harrowing experience to first visualise a nightmare and then live it in real time. The past few days have, with brutal harshness, proved all those who predicted a doomsday scenario for the Commonwealth Games, right. Despite having been part of a cacophonous group who raised serious doubts over the inefficient, insensitive and corrupt ways of all those involved with the conduct of the Games, one still believed that India will pull it off.
The 1982 Asian Games, despite being much smaller in scale and ambition, was the prime example before us, when, much to our surprise, we conducted the event with almost clockwork precision. Like the monsoon wedding, we did it then and felt proud about it.
Almost three decades later, India is no longer a third world country, at least in the eyes of its affluent upper-middle classes, and with pretensions of being called a superpower, this was one major opportunity to showcase to the world that we are right there at the top.
The frustrating delays in building infrastructure, the grave charges of corruption and the chaos on the roads, had been making us impatient and anger was building up, but it was being kept under wraps all for the sake of National Pride. The saner elements among us were counselling patience and felt the best course to take was to let the Games happen and only after that should the culprits be taken to task.
It took just minutes for a footbridge to collapse and make us realise that what we feared could be true --- the substandard quality of construction. If the bridge collapse showed our corrupt side, the filthy and unlivable conditions in the village showcased our crass, inefficient organisational abilities. In just one day, our dreams had come crashing down.
No matter how much work we put in from now onwards and no matter how much of a success the event will be once the Games actually begin, we may not be able to live down the shame and embarrassment caused to India by those who tout National Pride as if it is a cinema ticket to be sold in black.
Now that thousands and thousands of crores have been spent on showcasing India to the world, one hopes that the Games from here onwards do not create more embarrassment for us.
We hope we won't let down all those sportspersons who have chosen to ignore the adverse publicity and are participating in the Games.
And for the sake of our own athletes, who brave these adversities all the time, we hope the Games provide them an opportunity to fulfill their dream of bagging a sackful of medals in front of their own people.
Let them take centrestage for now. The crooks, whose negligence and greed caused grievous injuries to people and shamed all of us, it is hoped, will get the punishment they deserve, the moment the Games are over.