The crowd was silent.
A loud, single cheer goes up. As the claps subside, the players take to the stage again. At the first thwack, the audience falls silent. A lone cheer here and there, but the audience merely watches.
Thwack thwack pap thwack!
The rally has begun. The tension is palpable. With each thwack, their heart rises into their mouth, until…
The crowd begins to cheer. Silently, they prayed, many wishing for the impossible. As the game progresses, many begin to believe that it was really possible. The lead grew, as did the noise level. Not until the score was ten points ahead did the crowd truly begin to believe, and they began to chant his name.
“Hafiz, Hafiz, Hafiz!”
He drops a point. The audience gets a heart attack. But soon they rally.
The crowd screams. They began chanting. Many were on their feet, both in the stadium, and at home. Some began to pray fervently.
The shuttlecock rams straight into the net. Hafiz falls to his feet, covering his face. The crowd screams. They cheer. They laugh. They cry. They hug.
In a corner, some of the Danish team members look relieved. They can finally go home to sleep. One girl shakes her head, and they get up.
Online and offline, Malaysians all over cheer. They grin. They laugh. Some remember the glory days. Others cautioned against being complacent. Everyone though, celebrated the win, as though they had already won the Thomas Cup.
And in a very real way, they did.
Oh, and at the same time, they also showed a huge middle finger to PERKASA and other racist organisations.
Cause when I was watching The Beautiful Game earlier at a restaurant, I saw no division. I saw only this. I saw a small part of my nation, my country, my people, getting together to cheer at a TV screen for the sportsmen who were making us proud. I heard Malaysians everywhere cheering for the same things. I felt their spirits soar, their spirits drop, with each thwack of the shuttlecock.
I tasted hope.