OPINION: Dear Gulam Bodi, I hope you find faith in potatoes
Dear Gulam Bodi,
Despite being told by Cricket South Africa that you cannot do interviews on the match-fixing saga, I happened upon your first interview post 'Bodi-gate' in the Mail & Guardian this morning. And to be honest, I was left a little enraged and somewhat unsympathetic.
While I appreciate that we have all stumbled in life, perhaps made wrong choices, gone down a bad path and yes, it has at times felt like your life has 'come to standstill' - I do take exception to the way in which you have been patronising of your new job of "wholesaling, selling cosmetics, groceries and even used cars".
The article goes on about how you've been, "left to sell potatoes", and I would like to know where the shame is in that? Is selling potatoes such a bad thing? My father came to South Africa at the age of 16. And guess what he did? Sold potatoes. And guess what he is still doing at the age of 70? Selling potatoes. Where's the shame, Gulam? A business selling potatoes paid for the daily running of our family home, and quite comfortably put three children through school and university. Nobody patted him on the back; he had no crowds cheering his name; there was no fame or glory; just hard work. And perhaps that's what you need to experience right now - the reality check.
I'm not saying that you should forever feel punished, but to say that your 20-year ban from cricket is harsh is a bit, well, farcical. Here's why:
I don't think you understand how slowly but surely your behaviour can ruin sport for everyone. When fans buy a team shirt and pay money to go and watch a game, they have faith that what they are watching is the genuine truth. Fans trust that the sportsmen in the middle are playing for them with honesty and integrity. They shouldn't have to sit there and question every wide, no ball or miss-field. They shouldn't have to now think back to that 2015 T20 season and wonder which part of it was a lie.
So when you are given 'flak' for your unsavoury decisions, perhaps it's because you conned people. You conned your team mates out of a cricket season - while they were out there giving it their all, you only thought of your back pocket.
You conned fans out of a cricket season and their money spent on going to watch a match. Your teammates work hard to build the reputation of a team - and you undid all that work by denting fans' faith in that team. You left fans questioning their future allegiance to a side.
I don't know what your circumstances are. But from what I read, as the floodlights started fading on your career, you simply had no Plan B. You were easily corrupted and became the corruptor; preying on other sportsmen in the same situation.
I wish you luck in selling your potatoes. From personal experience I know that it can be a lucrative industry. I hope that in selling potatoes, you will have time to reflect on the squandered opportunities. I hope you come to realise that the punishment fitted the action - and that your sanction serves as an example to others who in future may fall into the snares of the devil who "made me do it". And don't worry, selling potatoes is not as lonely as you think it is. My dad has managed to build up lifelong friendships in his 50 odd years in the industry.
Cindy Poluta is the EWN Sport Editor in Johannesburg. Follow her on Twitter: @CindyPoluta