So, the World Cup is finally over! The stylish Spaniards won deservedly over the obdurate Oranje team, and we got our share of thrills, spills and ills.
But being a true-blue-and-yellow fan of Samba soccer, my personal passions ended when Brazil lost in the quarterfinals. Never mind the fact that they were hardly playing the beautiful game, being a total and staunch Brazil fanatic, I just wanted them to win. And I love Dunga! He (and Romario, and Bebeto, and Roberto Carlos and Cafu and of course, Taffarel the goalie, and the rest of the 1994 team) gave me one of my best and most stomach-clenching, nail-chewing sporting memory, when Brazil lifted the coveted cup after a penalty shoot-out win over Italy.
My tryst with Brazil and football started in 1986. It was a long summer, and vacation-time, and my brother and I were staying at my Pishir Bari (aunt's house) in Kolkata. Pishimoshai (my aunt's husband) took us all along to the electronics shop to buy a new colour TV in honour of the World Cup.
And so I met the Brazilian team in all its blue and gold glory on the EC TV screen, playing the French Les Blues, who had the curly-haired Platinni. But it was the Brazilians who mesmerized my young teenage mind. With their sinuous moves and fluent passing and masterful dribbling Brazil easily scored a goal in my heart. I had never seen this kind of scintillating football before, so full of motion and flow and art and grace and joy. Pele was a hoary name in black-and-white record books whose wizardry I saw and learnt of later. The 1986 Brazil boys made me fall in love with their brand of football flair and made me a convert forever!
Never mind the fact that their defence and goalkeeping was so atrocious as to be non-existent. Never mind the sad, sad fact that the dashing Zico and the sagacious Socrates both missed penalties. Never mind the fact that Brazil lost, again in the quarterfinals. Never mind the fact that 1986 was the year of Maradona, his magic, miracles and mischievous Hand of God.
For me, my heart began to beat and will always beat for Brazil.