At 6 pm on Monday evening, after praying at the local mosque, Goolam, my landlord, came back to his home in Walmer Estate—located near the District Six area of Cape Town—waiting for the long morning of cricket ahead. “I prayed hard,” he said. “And I’m praying that South Africa loses tomorrow.” When someone wrongly mentioned that it was the India-Australia semi-final on Tuesday, he stopped short. “Oh,” he said, “then I will pray less. But for India to win.” When it was clarified that it was indeed the South Africa-New Zealand game, he thought again. “Okay, then back to praying harder.”
Goolam, now in his seventies, was born and raised in South Africa. His father moved from Gujarat to this country in the 1930s. Goolam played domestic cricket growing up in Johannesburg, and was 18 when apartheid was imposed. “It spoilt everything for me,” he said. “I can never support them.”
At 3.30am local time yesterday when the match started, Goolam kitted out in his red pajamas, settled down to watch the game. He came for the cricket, but was probably really there for the schadenfreude. For a few older non-white people like him, still begrudging the pre-1994 days, before South Africa transitioned out of apartheid, the loss was something to be savoured. But, for most, it wasn’t 1994 that came to mind, but 1992, 1999 and 2003—waypoints in a world cup map of misery.