Game, set and match?


If it’s a cross-border love triangle, melodrama is mandatory, says Samrat Chakrabarti

Winner takes all The celebrity couple facing the media; (below) Ayesha Siddiqui, the telephone bride

SECONDS AFTER television channels flashed the ‘breaking news’ about Shoaib Malik divorcing Ayesha Siddiqui and settling — hopefully for once and all — the messy row that threatened the much-hyped marriage, Indian tennis ace Mahesh Bhupati called Mirza and told her to go for a drive with Malik. “Cheer up, all tensions are over,” Bhupati told Mirza. Earlier, someone informed the 24-year-old tennis ace that she moved up two notches in the latest WTA rankings, despite being out of action owing to a wrist injury. Mirza was pleased. So was Malik, who was told by a friend from Lahore that the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) could lift his year-long ban before the country’s T20 World Cup campaign in the Caribbean.

By then, bleary-eyed journalists camping outside the Film Nagar bungalow of the Mirzas had left and it was relatively easy for the two to enjoy a hassle-free drive in Mirza’s black BMW around Secundrabad. It is learnt that the two — with Sania’s younger sister Anam and another family member in tow — drove on the 12 km long PV Narasimha Rao expressway, India’s longest flyover, and also stopped near the majestic Charminar to rekindle their fairytale romance.

And while Hyderabad’s most-talked about family rejoiced, the one that stirred the pot remained quiet and out of bounds. “The divorce has happened, but Shoaib should have apologised,” says Saima, a distant cousin of city girl Ayesha.

Till that happened, it was a touch-andgo situation for both families. Siddiqui’s family — who live in the equally plush Banjara Hills and claimed Malik married their daughter in 2002 but has not yet divorced her — drummed up support from a number of NGOs, TDP leader Chandrababu Naidu and Pakistan’s former federal minister and human rights activist Ansar Burney — who termed the controversy an issue of human dignity and women’s rights and wanted to visit India to dig out the truth. The Mirzas, better placed in terms of their connection with the hoi polloi, called anyone who mattered — the latest being former Indian skipper and Moradabad Congress MP Mohammed Azharuddin. “We will have peace at home now. I am relieved,” Mirza’s father told a local television channel — which also revealed that the Shoaib- Ayesha drama ranked last in viewership compared to other major news rattling the state (YS Rajasekhara Reddy’s death was first, followed by the Telangana crisis).

A source who’s known both the families says this controversy was simply a case of mistaken identity, involving a pretty friend of Ayesha’s, that took off at a Jeddah hotel housing the Pakistan team, and plied for all it was worth by a girl determined for attention. However, in all the claims, counter-claims and the media brouhaha, a logically consistent version of events, let alone a supposedly true one, might never be known now.


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