Sometimes, when you are just shooting the breeze, the arrow might land right in the eye of the storm. Ask former India allrounder Yuvraj Singh, who did just that on a live chat on social media recently.
With the pandemic having forced cricketers to sit out, they have been occupying themselves by engaging with fans on social media. Yuvraj was having a live Instagram chat with the current white-ball vice-captain Rohit Sharma and the subject turned to Yuvraj's former teammate Yuzvendra Chahal and his TikTok videos.
Yuvraj used a derogatory term to refer to Yuzi. "Ye b****i logon ko koi kaam nahi hai Yuzi ko... Yuzi ko dekha kaisa video daala (these people like Yuzi don't have anything to do... did you see what kind of video Yuzi shared)," Yuvraj was heard saying.
Now, whether the pejorative reference came out of a sense of easy-breezy dressing room familiarity or out of the innate casteist vein running through most of our countrymen, is not entirely clear. Nor did Rohit think anything was amiss because his response was: "Maine usko woi bola ki apne baap ko nacha raha hai tu pagal to nahi hai (I asked him has he gone mad that he is making his father dance)," replied Rohit.
Fans royally took umbrage and asked Yuvraj to apologise, as the usage was offensive to the Valmiki community. #Yuvraj Sinh_Maafi_Maango (Yuvraj Singh apologise) began trending on Twitter.
One twitter user felt Yuvraj had defeated cancer but not overcome his caste prejudices, which was possibly a corollary of his belief in ‘savarna supremacy.’ Another brought out the dichotomy by dubbing it reverse racism. ‘‘Many people oppose racism in America, but support the caste system in India. In America, they want the citizens to treat Indians well. But, in their own country, they do not treat Dalits and backwards well (@alokkirti1990)." While most saw in the casual usage of the word ‘B****i’ an inadvertent insult of the Valmiki community and all those castes which are involved in sweeping and manual scavenging, an occasional madcap begged to differ. Some reasoned it was all banter between teammates in the dugout and one person recalled, rather fondly, that his mother would chide him with the aforesaid pejorative when he skipped his bath. But the overwhelming sentiment was that a player of international repute ought not to have a tunnel vision; at least he should not carry such caste baggage with him. The slur was not only demeaning for the entire Valmiki Samaj, but it was yet another instance of those ‘privileged’ not being able to wriggle out of the caste milieu and obnoxious stereotypes.
Chahal, it seems, is Yuvi’s punching bag. Recently the latter had posted a 39-second video, doing various exercises using dumbbells. Yuvraj had instantly dubbed him "chuhey". "Oh bale oh tere chuhey," he had commented on the leg-spinner's workout video. The 29-year-old legspinner took it sportingly and came up with an amusing reply that left fans in splits. "Strong me bhaiya," Chahal replied. Incidentally, Chahal's funny TikTok videos have been a hit among his fans on social media.