Suresh Kalmadi, chairman of the Commonwealth Games organising committee, is a sad man. Not because his stadiums are falling apart — and filling up with rainwater.
But because the people of his nation, for whom he has worked so hard and sacrificed so much, have turned on him. As if they actually don't see the big picture. Not the former big picture — of national glory accruing to India as She competed with world powers for the title of best sports host. That was, of course, never a battle we were looking to win.
So when one-time (albeit unwilling) sports minister and current Rajya Sabha member Mani Shankar Aiyar said he hoped the Commonwealth Games failed, Kalmadi was not really surprised.
In fact, it was the cue for the people of his country to rise up as one and pour out their hearts in support of his nationalist cause.
What hurt was the eerie silence in the stands, with just a stray cricket chirruping disapproval.
Not only was no one cheering for him and his Titanic-like endeavour, they were actually turning their backs on him all the better to shake Aiyar's hand and thank him for his honesty.
Did they not see, Kalmadi asked the lone cricket, that he had worked so hard, orchestrated this failure so exactly with the best interests of the nation in mind?
After all, we cannot really afford to host an international sports meet. We, who have tonnes of foodgrain rotting for want of a decent godown. Who can barely afford to keep our ministers fed, clothed, automobiled and helicoptered.
So the plan, he told the disapproving cricket, was to put on a show of valiant effort. Then fail so spectacularly that no one ever offered us the opportunity to host more than a kabaddi match.
And that — the failure and the resultant savings of thousands of crores of rupees that we would have otherwise spent on future international games and tournaments — was just Phase I.
Kalmadi's plan was much broader. We would fail, save the crores that foolish China, for instance, will be forced to spend as they try to outdo to their stupidly spectacular Olympic affair, and yet we would seem to die trying. As we stepped back from our (un)finished product just in time to cancel the Games, having spent Rs 35,000 crore on our valiant effort, the world would gape in horror and sympathy.
Eager tourists would flock to our Capital just to see for themselves how hard we had tried, and to verify that the skeletons of stadii were, in fact, where we had hoped to host the world.
That was Phase II.
Phase III was to follow soon after. Having seen the horror for themselves, the developed nations of the world would feel compelled to help.
Aid would begin flooding in, with UN funds snatched from starving sub-Saharan Africans so they could be sent our way. China would send us entire stadiums, draped in black as a sign of mourning. The US would recall its Black Hawks from Afghanistan and sell them to the nearest Saudi prince just so we could make back a little bit of what we had spent.
In our spectacular failure would lie our success. Our rebirth. The rebirth (or birth, let's be honest) of a truly vibrant sporting culture funded by countries that really care.
This was the plan all along. It has to have been. What other explanation is there?