A Pakistani’s second letter to Mohammed Amir

 I wrote an open letter to a young Pakistani cricketer caught in spot-fixing. Originally published here: http://www.dawn.com/2012/03/21/a-pakistanis-second-letter-to-mohammad-amir.html

So Mohammad Amir, it’s been a bizarre one and a half years since those fateful no-balls. You finally pleaded guilty, and were proven guilty and were handcuffed and locked in prison. And when you were released, you spoke on TV like a balanced, reflective individual in an interview with Michael Atherton, and if I didn’t know better I’d say your words touched me.

We, Amir, the people of your country are a jaded, cynical lot. We’ve seen pain and terrorism up close, we’ve seen empty promises from politicians and we go through a day-to-day struggle to live a decent life. We are a tired lot, and most of us don’t believe in giving people second chances.

But as I heard you talking to Atherton about your dreams and aspirations, and how they were realised and then how suddenly they came crashing down – somehow I could relate. We’ve all been there, Amir. We’ve all done the silliest, maddest things to lose what appears to be everything, and in those times, it seems as though the world cannot go on. But it does and your trial (pun intended) went on in front of millions of people, who observed your every grimace and gesture. It must’ve been hard.

Amir, you spoke of being immature, you spoke of being framed and spoke of wanting no money whatsoever. As much as I want to believe you I can’t help wondering why a 17-year-old cricketer would give his bank account number to someone as soon as they ask for it and after giving those details, ask why the person wanted it. I’m really no one to judge you but the innocence of your intentions seems too good to be true.

When I wrote to you a year earlier Amir, I requested an apology, and you finally gave one. And it takes strength doesn’t it, to say you made a mistake? However can you please explain all those trials when you said the no-balls were an accident? I distinctly remember an interview you gave on phone in a TV show when you were on a ‘tableeghi dora’.

Apparently, you were in a mosque and couldn’t stay on the phone for long. At the end of the show the anchor asked the audience whether someone as religious as you could possibly spot-fix. I feel hurt and cheated, especially because of the mosque (and our faith) being brought in to vouch for your ‘complete innocence’. How can I be sure you’re not lying this time?

You know Amir, a few months back I was playing cricket with a group of women at the Sharjah Cricket Stadium nets. Someone asked me where I was from. “Pakistan,” I replied.

“Oh. Wasn’t it Pakistanis who were caught bowling no-balls for a load of cash?” someone asked. I nodded quietly and for the rest of the morning, I felt pretty low. I’m sure you know how bad I felt. The entire nation did, in fact, and now that you have apologised, your story, though touching, artfully clears you of any avaricious motives, and makes you appear like the poor guy who was framed into saving his skin, and thus delivered a couple of no-balls.

Despite the loopholes, I can’t help being softened by your candid admissions. I don’t know why, but somehow my dwindling trust in the world strengthens as I wonder if you’ve finally spoken the truth. Maybe it’s time for us to give you a second chance. And Amir, I, like millions of people want to see you make a come-back.

Mehmudah Rehman

The author is a Dubai-based freelance writer who’s obsessed with cricket and enjoys bowling leg-spin. She blogs at Ummanaal’s Musings.