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There’s More to Life than Cricket

Jai is fourteen and dreams of owning a café in Delhi. Inaya is fifteen and dreams of playing cricket for Pakistan.

In 2008, their worlds collide. What unfolds is a story that started way back in 1947 – with the drawing of a line.

Inaya lives with her father in Rawalpindi. Her cricket ambitions don’t always go down well with her family.

Find a glimpse of her story in the excerpt below. 


Rawalpindi, Pakistan

A loud crash announced Inaya’s misjudged attempt at hitting a sixer in the tape-ball cricket tournament taking place in the street adjoining Haider Mansion. It startled Mudassar, the Haiders’ elderly help, almost causing him to drop the figurine of the ballerina that he was dusting. A tennis ball covered in insulation tape had shot through the open French windows in the drawing room, bouncing off a painting over the mantelpiece and knocking over a crystal photo frame. The ball deftly made its way through the shards of glass that now covered the floor to finally disappear beneath the large leather sofa. Moments later, a breathless fifteen-year-old burst into the room.

‘Sorry, sorry, Mudassar Chacha,’ Inaya panted, pushing away the mop of unruly curls from her eyes. Impenitently, she crouched down and retrieved the ball. ‘Please blame this on Zain. Please!’

There was the sound of footsteps and Inaya spun around.

‘What are we blaming on Zain, Inaya?’ asked her father, Irfan, as he strode in, followed at a more sedate pace by her grandparents. Inaya gulped and looked at them sheepishly. The trio surveyed the scene in silence. Inaya clutched the ball behind her back, hoping they wouldn’t notice the smashed photo frame.

Inaya’s grandmother straightened the painting that had tilted leftwards with the ball’s impact. ‘If you don’t like your grandfather’s paintings, you should just tell him so, Inaya. As I do,’ said Humaira. ‘Why go to all the trouble of taking potshots at them through windows?’

‘But I do like Daada’s paintings—that was an accident,’ muttered Inaya.

Inaya’s father retrieved the photograph that was on the floor. He carefully removed the fragments of glass and propped the photograph against the ballerina on the mantelpiece.

‘Inaya, look at your great-grandmother—she was . . . the epitome of grace. She would be appalled by all this,’ he said, gesturing at the destruction that lay before him. ‘There’s more to life than cricket, you know.’


In Across the Line, Nayanika Mahtani presents a powerful story of borders and beliefs, shaped by the games people play. Lauded by Vidya Balan as a story that “lingers long after the last page is turned”, Jai and Inaya’s story brings together unlikely worlds across time and borders.

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