Five Years After
A Series of Cricketing Vignettes
Copyright © 2017, Dave Potter
These five vignettes follow the life of cricket-mad Syeda Hanif after her marriage to Mohammed Yusef. Syeda Hanif was introduced to us in my earlier tale ‘Syeda Turns Eighteen’.
1). 2025 – Post-Coital Bliss
Syeda lay on her back panting as the early morning sunlight streamed in through the slats between the blinds that covered the bedroom windows. Lain beside her, also trying to recover his breath, was her new husband, Mohammed Yusef.
Her mind was still in shock, trying to take it all in. Only three weeks before, she had turned eighteen. Her surprise birthday treat was to be taken by her father to the National Stadium to watch the National Women’s Cricket Team defeat the almighty Australians to reach the World Cup Final for the first time in history. And then, after the game, she was introduced to her cricketing heroine, the spin-bowler Nashra Sandhu in person, who not only greeted and chatted with her, but then invited her back to her home. And then, when she got there, she received a proposal of marriage from Nashra’s husband, a proposal which she accepted without even seeing his face.
It was only the next day that she learned that she would be sharing a marriage with not one Pakistani international cricketer, but two! For her fiancé, whom she had never even seen or exchanged a word with, was none other than the great Mohammed Yusef who once took seven Indian wickets for forty-five! Cricket had always been her life but now she was to be spending her days in a household even more obsessed with the game than her father’s.
And if that were not enough, after her wedding when, dressed in a huge, frothy white dress and covered in an ornate but blinding white burqa, she had been led upstairs to her new bedroom by her new husband and initiated into another sport which was just as exciting and enjoyable as that played with the leather and willow. True, her friends had whispered about it at school, and there were comments about men’s “’things’” and what they did to a girl with them, but nothing could have prepared her for the ecstasy that they had enjoyed both the night before and then again that morning.
No wonder she was panting!
But now that the sport was over and the day had begun, what was going to be the next step in her life’s journey? She rolled over to her husband, put her arm around his strong, hairy body and kissed him on the lips. He returned her affections, giving her ass a playful slap and then said, “Syeda, we need to talk. This is important as I need to explain to you how this household operates.”
She nodded and they both sat up.
“My darling, both last night and this morning were wonderful, but they shall be the last that we enjoy in this fashion. As you know, like your father, I am a man who fears Allah but also loves cricket. And this causes me a dilemma with my womenfolk as I like to share my love of the game but also make sure that they can live pious lives. Your sister wife whom you call Nashra but who from now on we will refer to only as First Wife, plays for the Pakistani National Side which means that she must appear in public with her face and hands uncovered and, when moving, glimpses of her tempting form when it is stretched against the clothing can be seen. When we first married, she begged me to let her to continue playing and I wanted to allow this but was not sure of how things stood religiously, so I consulted the imam from the East Mosque where I pray. He told me that, although he normally would not acquiesce to such things, because First Wife was playing for the national side, it was a special case since by doing so she could raise the status of our Islamic Republic and also inspire women – it helps of course, that he too is an avid cricket fan! But, for that time spent in public, he suggested that she increase her purdah living at all other times.
So we worked out a system by which First Wife has lived ever since marrying and by which you must live also, since Islam tells us to treat all wives equally.
After this talk, I will leave the room. You will then get ready in your new attire. I require my wives to be completely covered at all times, both inside and outside of the house. This is to compensate for the cricket. That covering includes the eyes as under your attire you must wear a full leather hood that covers the face and has tinted lenses over the eyes. This may be shocking to some, therefore I have bought you a full set of burqas to hide it, although I will accept other veiling styles so long as they are complete. Gloves are, of course, mandatory at all times and, whenever your hands are not required, mittens and arm restraints will be the norm. Your hands will not be required as often as most women’s are, since we have servants to cook and clean. You shall be gagged 24/7 whenever not playing cricket. All communication shall be through notes.
Names are, henceforth, banned, as they show individuality and can cause jealousy. You shall be Second Wife and she shall be First.
Whenever leaving the house, you must wear a blinding burqa to protect you from all temptations. When travelling long distances, arrangements will be made to take care of bodily wastes as was the case under your father.
You and I shall not see each other’s faces ever again. In bed, I shall lie with you every other night, but you will wear your hood to bed and over that a sleeping sack. I shall be able to open this for congress and also remove your gag in order that we may kiss, but speech is not allowed. Although we will enjoy each other as we did tonight, I will put you on the pill so that you need not have children until thirty in order that your cricketing career is not disturbed.
All of this may sound harsh, but it is necessary. Syeda will cease to exist save as someone whom I see but don’t know on the cricket pitch. When you play for Pakistan, you are Syeda Hanif; when you are away from the field, you are Second Wife, a different person. By dividing your persona like this, can I accommodate any cricketing dreams that you may have and please our Lord and Maker.
On Monday you will have your trial for the national side. I have no doubt that you will pass. I shall cheer you on from the stands as I also do the famous spin-bowler Nashra Sandhu. On the cricket pitch you may speak, show your face and hands and make both me and your country proud.”
Tears welled in Syeda’s eyes and she knew in an instant that she had married the right man. She imagined going out to bowl with the Ladies in Green and then returning to her home hidden, protected and pure. She threw her arms around the man who had made those conflicting dreams possible and whispered softly, “Your Second Wife loves you more than you can ever imagine…”
1st August, 2017
2). 2026 – A Sponsorship Deal
“Ladies, please, before we start our practice today, I need to meet you all in the main gym. We have an important announcement to make.”
Wondering what it could be, the members of the Pakistan National Women’s Cricket Team all trooped into the gym once they had donned their characteristic green playing gear. They were surprised to find, when they arrived, a set of chairs set out for them all to sit on and, in addition to their coach, the head of the Women’s Federation, waiting.
“Thank you all for coming today,” said the Head of the Federation. “I have gathered you all here today, to announce a new direction for the team based on an exciting and extremely lucrative sponsorship deal that we have managed to procure. As a result of this deal, not only will we be able to fund all tours for the coming three years and completely refurbish and modernise your facilities, but also your wages are to be increased to the equivalent of $50,000 per annum.”
At this the girls gasped. That sum was huge compared with the $20,000 that they each currently received.
“The deal has been done with the esteemed Saudi Investment Bank who have taken a specific interest in our progress and have decided to come on board, generously. However, the deal does come with some unusual stipulations.
You see the thing is this: our team is both supported and condemned in Saudi Arabia. Our achievements are celebrated due to the fact that we are proving that Muslim women can take on the best in the world and win. However, we draw much criticism because you play with your faces uncovered and encourage young women to flaunt themselves before non-related males.
However, two of our squad – Nashra and Syeda here – are much praised in Saudi due to the fact they you girls help beat the kuffir on the field and then are good purdah-observing girls when off it. The bank bosses have seen the documentary in which it talks about you both wearing the burqa and observing voice modesty and are much impressed. Hence the new deal. I shall now ask my daughter, Zaeba, to enter the room.”
The girls turned as a new figure entered the gym. She – for it must have been a she – was wearing a fine burqa in green with white embroidered teardrop grilles. As she approached them she spun around so that they could see the back and where pleats are usually to be found was a plain panel with ‘IQBAL, 17’ embroidered on it. She then turned around to the front again and using a green gloved hand (with ‘17’ embroidered on the back of the hand) she pointed to the symbol of the national team on the chest area and, underneath, a much smaller ‘IQBAL, 17’. Finally, she bowed her head so that they could all see the crescent and star from the national flag on the top of the skullcap.
“Ladies, this is your new uniform, to be worn whenever in public and not playing cricket. Our new sponsors have stipulated this as a condition of the deal and we gladly agreed. Underneath the burqa there is a matching shalwar kameez set and scarf as well as a ball gag. These are all mandatory.”
At these words, several players, the more liberal members, groaned audibly, but Syeda and her co-wife Nashra turned to one another and smiled.
“Any questions?” asked the coach.
There were none.
6th August, 2017
3). 2027 – Giving My All For Allah
Second Wife looked at her husband through her burqa grille and niqaab as he read the letter and wondered. What would he decide? She did not know the correct path forward herself; she could see value and danger on both sides. Oh well, the decision was not hers to make. She shifted her gaze across to First Wife who was also looking at their spouse. She too wanted to know.
It was all due to the meeting they had had that afternoon with the Head of the Pakistani Cricket Board. They had both been practising with their teammates in preparation for the coming series against Sri Lanka, when a message had come through that they were to come to the Head’s office in half an hour’s time. Mystified, they exited the session, took a quick shower, and then dressed in their public gear, the two co-wives helping to buckle each other’s gags and ensure that their smart, national team burqas were on straight. Then they had walked noiselessly through the corridors to the Head’s spacious office.
“Ahh, Nashra and Syeda… I’m sorry, Yusef’s First and Second, please, take a seat. I have a very important issue that I wish to discuss with you.”
The two burqa-clad ladies sat as they were bidden to and then turned to face their boss. “As you both doubtless know, the new team public uniforms have proven to be an enormous success and the new national government, which, as you know, is now dominated by the Pakistan Muslim League, are really over the moon. They say that the new uniform is not only encouraging Pakistani girls to love cricket and have pride in their nation, but also they have helped make the burqa – and modesty – cool. Apparently, the fundamentalists have put half the girls off modest dress and the others saw burqas as being too old-fashioned by the pious with them preferring Arabian styles. Our new uniform has not only made modesty cool, but also the burqa a unique Pakistani cool.”
Behind her veils and gag, Syeda smiled. Before her marriage, she too had been one of those teenaged girls who saw the burqa as dowdy and dated and preferred the all-black Saudi look. These days though, she was proud of her native dress, even if it was rather more stifling and restrictive than her Arabian attire.
“Because of the success, spearheaded by you two ladies it must be said, who are as inspirational off the field as you are on it, true models for what the modern Pakistani woman can aspire to be, our sponsors want to take things to the next level. They’ve entered into a partnership with the international sportswear giant Nike, where they plan to develop an entire range of clothing and accessories that are both stylish and Islamic. And because of the profile that you two ladies have, they are desperate for you both to spearhead the advertising campaign.”
First and Second looked at one another. Now this was a surprise! But how could they…
“Yes, yes, ladies, I understand your predicament,” continued the Head when they both shrugged their shoulders at him. “You live in strict purdah off the field and so how can you two be seen walking down the catwalk, right?”
They both nodded.
“No, we do not expect that; instead all we ask is that you inspire Pakistani women to become more modest by donning the new range. Look, here’s the concept.”
He handed both women the outline of an advertising campaign. Through their veils they slowly read it and then turned to one another. Part of Second Wife really wanted to do it, but the other part of her…
Thankfully, First Wife answered the Head on her behalf.
But this requires speaking in public. We can’t do that.
“Please, consider it. For the greater good.”
Our husband would not agree.
“Are you sure of that? Would you at least agree to ask him for me?”
They looked at one another again and nodded.
Which is why they were now both sitting in the living room waiting for Yusef to give his verdict. What was it to be…?
A month later…
Sitting in their living room, the veiled forms of First and Second flanked their beloved husband. With great ceremony he turned the TV on. It was showing the Men’s T20 game between Pakistan and South Africa. South Africa had batted first and scored a mammoth 307. Now Pakistan were in. they were 260 with six overs to go. It was tense and everyone was on tenterhooks. Then, just as the over ended, a drinks break was called and adverts flared up.
The screen showed the Pakistan Women’s Cricket Team in a tough game against some unidentifiable opponent. It is the final ball and Pakistan need five to win. An Indian-looking lady bowls at Syeda Hanif who swings her bat majestically, middling the ball and launching it high into the stands to rapturous applause.
The camera then cuts to her entering the changing room being congratulated by her teammates and then again to her in the changing room, this time clad in a green national team Pak-chador with matching green gloves embroidered with the national emblem. She is by a mirror but then turns to the camera and says,
“On the pitch I give my all for my country, but off it I give my all for Allah.”
Then she opens her mouth wide and inserts a Nike Pakistani green ball gag which she then buckles tightly behind her head before flipping down the Nike-logo green niqaab and turning to a similarly clad figure beside her.
The final scene shows two green burqas leaving the changing rooms with the slogan ‘Modesty, Just Do It’ emblazoned across the bottom of the screen.
The match comes back on but they have now all lost interest. “My darlings,” said Yusef, “I am so proud of you! That is brilliant and I believe that it may inspires hundreds of Pakistani girls to live more modestly. Well done!”
He gives each of his silent and hidden wives a hug and they return the embrace.
“Now,” he adds, his eyes twinkling, “let’s go upstairs to celebrate…”
8th August, 2017
4). 2028 – On Tour
Syeda felt a hand touch her shoulder and, with a great effort, she rose from the chair in which she had been sat some time ago. How long that was, she could not say; in her pitch-black world, there was no clock, but from the fact that she had heard announcements for around twenty flights on the airport loudspeakers, then she estimated a good two or three hours.
She felt the familiar presence on her right shoulder, guiding her towards where she needed to be and so she shuffled along as it directed. Walking was not easy dressed as she was but time was not of the essence and so she knew that she need not worry. Aisha, the junior teammate who always guided her when travelling, knew well her needs and was patient and kind. Even so, just the slowest of walks caused her to sweat and the temperature inside her cocoon to shoot up which, in turn, caused her to require deeper gasps of stale air through the many layers covering her face. Still, if it pleased her Lord, then it was worth it.
Syeda had woken early that morning, five o’clock in fact. She had showered and then dressed herself in the formidable attire that was necessary for the day – well, days… – ahead. First came the enormous adult nappies that were fastened tightly around her middle. These were mandatory for any time when she was to leave the house and venture to a strange environment for more than a couple of hours. However, as today was a special occasion, over them came another, even larger pair. Having secured both, she then locked them into place by pulling on a pair of rubber incontinence pants, and then a second pair for extra security before bringing out the special garment that her husband had bought her for such occasions. These were a pair of Victorian-style bloomers in black latex with a pretty red bow on the front. She pulled them onto her legs feeling the elastic dig into her thighs and waist and then looked at herself in the mirror. The effect was startling: her already wide hips now looked ridiculous, swelled by the nappies, pants and bloomers into something that looked cartoonish. Still, however it looked, she would be safe and secure.
She squeaked over to the cupboard and then pulled out the next item. This was a full bodysuit in black latex. On some of her earlier tours, she had found that the sweat generated during the journey had soaked through to the outer clothing and ruined it. After consulting with her co-wife and husband, a solution was found and both wives were bought these full body suits in thick latex. She rolled it up over her oiled body, the latex snapping and squeaking as it slowly covered her in black. She struggled to get it over her now-enormous bottom and then carefully fitted her breasts into the internal cups before zipping it up the back and then fitting the arms. Finally she tied her long hair into a tight bun and then lifted the hood over her head, zipping it tightly shut and closing both zips with a small padlock as her husband had decreed. The keys to these then went into her bag.
Next she brought another item out decreed by her spouse. This was not necessary for any religious or modesty reasons, but he had taken to asking both wives to wear one just because he liked the silhouette it produced and, as good and obedient wives, both she and her co-wife had, of course, agreed. Nonetheless, she did not like the black corset that she now wrapped around her middle and tied loosely.
Following this she took out her most serious gag, designed for comfort, security and long-term use. She opened her mouth to its maximum and inserted it before then buckling the harness around her latex-clad head and then pumping the inflatable gag within to its maximum before removing the inflator and locking the mechanism with a third key which she also put inside her bag. This was all that she could do for herself and so she now rang for help.
Yusef came straight away, kissed her on her gagged mouth as he always did and then went round the back of her corset and tightened the laces, causing her to grunt with the strain. He smiled, tied off the lace and then brought out her plain black zentai which hid all the latex and presented her new and extreme silhouette to the world in matt black. As he fitted the headpiece, carefully threading the tube from her gag through the tiny hole in the zentai, Syeda’s world took on a blurred sheen. Yusef stood admiring this alluring image for some moments before patting his second wife’s much-covered bottom and then picking up the next item.
This was an ingenious, purpose-made device that looked rather like a rubber ring such as a child uses in a swimming pool. It was fitted around her corseted waist but then, instead of being inflated, clean drinking water was poured into it until it was full and sloshed about her. Then the tube which had been used to fill it was connected to the tube from her gag. This water would be her sustenance for the days ahead and even though there was a lot in the ring, Syeda had learned through bitter experience not to suck it all up quickly.
Following this, stretchy cotton gloves covered her latex and zentai-clad hands and black stockings rolled onto her legs. Then a plain black abayah covered her body and a black hijab wrapped around her face head to frame her zentai-covered face. Yusef then fitted her knee-length khimar over her head and took out her three layer niqaab which was draped over her face. She now looked much like any other purdah-abiding pious woman, albeit a rather wider one than is usual.
Yusef flipped back the two outer layers of her niqaab to allow his wife some hazy sight and then fitted her trainers onto her feet. Dressed as such, she was ready to leave the room.
She shuffled with her husband into the main room of the house, already sweating profusely due to her multitude of layers, and sat down on the settee while Yusef put on a religious channel for her to listen to Quranic recitals before heading off to assist his first wife with her dressing as she had rung him several times.
Some ten minutes later her returned with another black cone. Syeda rose and embraced her co-wife noiselessly before Yusef took her gloved hands, guided them behind her back and fastened them there with cuffs before doing the same with First Wife. He then flipped down his wives’ niqaabs and brought out the official green and white Pakistani National Side burqas which he fastened over their heads. Blinded, helpless and overheating, they were ready for the journey.
That had been around ten hours ago. It had taken then them a good forty minutes to drive to the airport and then almost three hours to negotiate security. And then there had been the three and a half hours’ flight to Dubai before her long wait in the lounge had begun. Syeda knew that, aside from her co-wife and one other purdah-abiding teammate, the rest of the girls had been busy shopping and eating in the airport’s restaurants while she slowly overheated and, even though the thought was sinful, she felt a tinge of envy. Oh well, the fires of hell are hotter still, she had comforted herself.
Still, it was the last leg now! She moved slowly and carefully, her sodden nappy and rubber pants sloshing around her middle and her half-empty drinking ring sloshing about above as she moved. She felt Aisha guide her up an inclined path and then later, into a lift. Finally she knew that she was entering the plane as she heard the cabin crew welcome them and felt the seats brush against her cumbersome attire on either side. Then she was seated and the seatbelt stretched over her. Even though she felt and heard nothing she knew that her co-wife would be sat beside her and from that she drew comfort.
Syeda closed her sightless eyes and waited. She started to drift into dreamworld when she was snapped awake by the muffled sound of the tannoy.
“Ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. Welcome to Emirates Flight 613 to Sydney. The time now is 15:42. We are scheduled to reach our destination in just over fourteen hours’ time…”
Inwardly Syeda sighed. Tours Down Under were always the most challenging of all…
8th August, 2017
5). 2029 – PCA Cricketer of the Year
Mohammed Yusef climbed the steps towards the podium and cast his mind back. When was the last time that he had been here? 2019 had it been when, after that blistering spell in the iconic Wankhede Stadium in Mumbai, his 7 for 45 had helped dismiss the mighty Indian team out for a paltry 119, paving the way for a famous innings victory by Pakistan. That performance, in addition to two half centuries and three more five wicket hauls had resulted in him being named Pakistani Cricketer of the Year, the highest accolade in Pakistani cricket. It had been an unbelievable day and he never imagined that, a full decade later, he would ascending the same steps in the same conference hall in Islamabad to pick up the same award at the ripe old age of 40.
But then life rarely pans out as we expect, does it?
He ascended to the podium and took the award from the great Imran Khan, the most famous of all of his country’s fine cricketing legends and then turned to face the waiting masses, the great and good of Pakistan’s sporting and political society.
“Well, I never expected to be receiving this again,” he said, at which they all laughed.
“However,” he continued, “as you all know, I am not receiving this honour on behalf of myself, but instead this lady here, my Second Wife.” He pointed to the silent mound of cloth stood beside him, her entire form covered in the green and white burqa of the national team.
“When we married four years ago, although I realised that I was admitting yet another cricket-crazy female under my roof” (at this the laughs came back) “no one thought that she would be going to go on and outdo my achievements in the game, nor even those of her co-wife. But since that day the ‘Sister of Spin’ as she is nicknamed in our newspapers, has gone from strength to strength in our national side and helped build on the legacy of First Wife until last month, for the first time in our history, our women’s team, once the laughing stock of the cricketing world, lifted the World Cup itself in the marvellous Sir Vivian Richard’s Stadium, an achievement not possible without her magnificent figure of 9-45. Yes, I can bowl and only concede 45 runs but I get two less wickets! And all of this against the English side who are currently topping the world rankings… although not for long I am sure.
But on a more serious note, on behalf of my wife who I know feels this way for she told me so before we came here tonight, this award is about more than Second Wife’s achievements, more even than those of the entire World Cup-winning team but instead something more. The fact is that they laughed at us and mocked us. Our men can perform well but our women will always be behind, that is what they said. Pakistan women’s teams are a joke and always will be, years behind England, Australia, South Africa, New Zealand and India even. And why? Because we have backwards views towards our womenfolk. Because we keep them veiled, covered and in purdah and no woman living that way can ever achieve sporting greatness. But my wives, on the advice of some of our most respected religious authorities have proven that no woman need choose between Allah and cricket. She can be pious and lethal with a cork ball. And that is something that no Australian, English, South African, New Zealander or, dare I say it, Indian girl with an uncovered head and unguarded morals can boast!
On behalf of Second Wife I thank you all and Pakistan zinzabar!”
And with those words the entire hall erupted in rapturous applause, the only silent member there being the actual recipient of the honour who stood, stifling in the heat of the stage lights, barely able to see the outline of her husband’s silhouette, her mouth jacked open by her most serious gag and her arms fastened securely at her sides, happier and prouder than any woman on earth and more in love with her husband then than even on the day when he had proposed to her.
31st July, 2017