NOTE-This isnt an attempt to write an elegy about the man. Better and gifted pens have already done that. Neither is this an attempt to "statistically" prove the "greatness" of this man and how he is "non pareil". Those have been done to death as well. This is an artcle which deals with celebrating a phenomenon called sachin (plzz ignore the gramaratical n vocabulary aspect this time as this article is like a love letter where only feelings are important not the words)
It is not everynight you suddenly woke up at 2.00 a.m with heart beating fast,full of sweating and tears on your eyes.No,it is not an asthma attack,neither i had taken any drink or smoke before sleeping.It was a nightmare ,a nightmare which i always pray to never happen but is aware that it will happen one day and more saddingly its perhaps only some days away.
What i saw in nightmare was a little man with bat on his hand is on his way to pavillion,having tricolour flag on helmet,face not clear but people are sad and the commentator says ''hold on your breath as the master blaster takes the last walk".My eyes got wet as everyone else was also crying and my heart filled with thoughts that oh my god! it is last time i had seen sachin batting.The nature will be there,the earth will be there ,I will be there,You will be there but one man will not be and that is sachin and this last line broke my sleep and i kept sitting on bed till whole night,i dont want to sleep that night coz of the fear of nightmare coming once again.
Now,that can surprise many but not me.For a guy like me whose friendship n foeness depends on the love with which the person aside me adores sachin.the one who if ever try to make a girlfreind will firstly try to know whether she is a fan of sachin or not.I and my freinds quarelled ,broken relationships not because they were bashing him but because a one inning failure had crept a thought in their mind that sachin is not god.My skipping of breakfast,my delaying of lunch n dinner were all due to sachin.Sachin's retirement will not only mark end of cricket for me n plenty like me ,it will be the end of their passion,end of joy,end of belief.there will be no waiting for series then,neithere will be treats for sachin's century.There will be no google home page with sachin typed on it 24*7 .our life is frightened to become a car without engine.
The first question that can arise now is what is so big about this little man that is so special.Actually its not one but collection of many things.What influence can a sportperson have in our childhood that makes us so emotional even about thinking of his retirement?
Actually,I am just representative of the categorie of preponderant number of people who entered their teenage world with the entry of cable TV, liberalized economy, rapidly changing middle class dynamics, clandestinely purchased Debonairs, paradigm shift in middle class values, increased access to happenings in "western world", highly accommodative parents, over achieving siblings, the ravishing Steffi Grafs, vanishing Sabatinis', sizzling samprasses and one man whose presence in the currently playing Indian Cricket team could bring our whole day to a standstill. Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.
In hindsight it is amazing how the Sachin phenomenon had perpetrated into the Indian collective consciousness ( especially the middle class the one I was intimately acquainted with ). I am an unabashed Sachin fan ( using it as loosely as possible ) not because of his exquisite strokeplay, his dazzling cover drives, his scintillating straight drives, his pulverizing pulls or the impeccable prancing down the tracks to hoist the hapless fast bowler for a maximum.
It was for all this and so much more.
Again going down the nostalgic lane it is amazing how much of my teenage life I remember revolving around Sachin and his innings.There would be plenty in this forum who, I am sure ,like me would have feigned illness on a match day just to watch the little Master play. There would be plenty who would have sneaked a radio into the class just to be updated ball by ball how Sachin (ostensibly "India" ) was progressing. There would be plenty who like me would have dreamed before a match day the Little Master would yet again score a century. Assuming they slept. There would be plenty who like me could recount in amazing detail the exact words he spoke in the man of the match ceremony, the way he got off the mark, the number of balls he took to do it, the way he "unfortunately" got out, the number of fours and sixes you ask? Child's play.
There would be plenty of people like me who would have had a knot in their stomach every ball he faced. Waiting. Hoping against hope hopen. The desperate of us even praying. There would be plenty of people who like me would have hurled imprecations on the poor non striker who didn't have the "common sense" to "take a single" and give "strike" to the Little Master. There would again be plenty like me who would have missed the practicals ( oh what is the wrath of the principle and parents when compared to the master dancing down the track and giving Warne the nightmares of his life? Nothing was comparable to it and nothing could have compensated missing it.) and have make an early exit from the annual examination just because sachin was making 10000 runs that day.There would be plenty like me who when introduced to a girl who professed interest in cricket and actually remembered how much Sachin scored in the last match would immediately start believing in soul mates. There would be plenty like me who would have devoured every article about the Master ( Favorite being R. Mohan's ) and still feeling no adjectives could do justice to him. There would be plenty like me who would have expressed an undisguised scorn at the disinterest shown by the sis and the parents with their callous and blasphemous "I don't understand what the big deal is!!" There would be plenty like me who would have thought spending a whole three hours seeing the Little master striking a ball with a wood a life well spent. There would be plenty like me who would have stayed well late into the night just to catch the highlights after watching the full match in the morning. Sometimes watch a re run of the match again in the night.Sometimes I remember watching matches, when I would agree within myself to strike an imaginary deal with the God that I am ready to sacrifice my exam grades for a Sachin century (it was so silly but I still do it at times and I feel proud at the end if he makes it).
Lets face it there are probably people like me out there for whom it was never really about India actually "winning". ( If Sachin plays and they win it would be just a "nice feeling". ) Who really cares about how many matches India actually "won" because of his contribution?It's like arguing Himesh reshamiya sells more than mohammed rafi so himesh is a better artist. Yes that's bad logic but logic, teenage life and Sachin didn't really go hand in hand.
He made us believe that we as Indians could take on the world, we could dictate our own terms and we could actually be the world's best. For a nation that had shaken from its economic slumber and was entering a new era of opening its doors to the world here was the perfect poster boy. Young, fearless, talented, world class but with a value system that was so endearingly rooted and Indian that he gave the burgeoning middle class of our nation hope that any dream was possible.
No one is irreplaceable. But can one imagine how watching cricket will be after he retires? Sure the show goes on but it does leave a horrible feeling in the pit of the stomach. Legends come about once a while and even sans the media hype around the man there is no taking away from the fact that he is one. The ritual of Sachin actually donning his helmet is a metaphor for carrying the hopes of a billion people. Maybe that's why he never removed his helmet during the storm in Sharjah; perhaps he was aware of what he was carrying.
Let the man be and let him go when he desires. I don't think he will linger longer than that moment when he knows he is not at his best, let no one else make that judgement for him. For someone who has given us countless moments of joy, hope and salvation over the last twenty years we owe him that much.
For some of us it wasn't really about winning at all. It is the realization how far we would have gone to just see him play that shot. Oh just to see him on the pitch.Oh the unbridled pure adulation for a man whose dismissal could break a billion hearts.Oh if there was heaven it would be just it.It's a moment of epiphany which plenty of people like me would have gone through.