Posted: March 19, 2013 by Ankur in Writes...
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Dear Sachin, ( Sorry if I sound rude for calling you out by name, our culture says I must address my elders with some respectful phrasesbut for me you have always been just “SACHIN”… nothing less and nothing more)
I came online on FB today as a daily ritual and the moment I logged in, a friend pinged me -(follow d conversation)
aurbhaisachin to katliya ( Bro SACHIN is gone)
• ME
Kya (WHAaaat?)
Kahan (Where?)
kyabolrha h? (What are you speaking?)
odi se (from odi)
• ME
is series keliye? (for this series only right?)
ya retirement (or retirement)
2nd 1
• ME
M******** (M***********)
kaun? (who?)
maijaarha (I’m leaving)
kyun? (why?)

And I don’t speak to him after that…. Just run down to the television, pick up the remote with my hands trembling and tune into a news channel… The moment thatI had always thought was going to be one of the most cherished memories of “MY CRICKETING CARREER” (which actually is a subset of yours) didn’t happen!!

Yes, like any other of the cricket following lads, I was told to be prepared for the day when you would walk into the sunset… Believe me I was prepared!!! Everything was planned here- in my brain- I’d gather with my friends ( and my father), with whom I’ve hotly discussed cricket over the past 12 years… gather and together watch your flawless footwork that was accurate to the precision of a millimetre, hear the melody of the white ball striking the mid of your bat and more than anything else… feel the unmatched charisma and the cyclonic atmosphere you brought alongwith you into the stadiums- Just for that ONE LAST TIME- But none of this happened. Rather you chose to walk away like a monk!! My friends say they feel like crying. But I don’t. My tears were reserved for that one last match of yours, of OURS, and now those tears refuse to come out.

I’m not going to get into those records of yours, or what other cricketing greats thought of you, or how you glued together an otherwise diverse population with an indissoluble bond. The media would do that for me. Rather I choose to tell you the story of a father and his son. Innumerable times they fought, nothing could reconcile them. But luckily if there was India’s match around, the family members were unperturbed. Reason? The moment you stepped on the crease, they’d look towards each other from the corner of their eyes, the moment you hit your first boundary, they’d smile to each other and by the time you were ready to face the next delivery, the son was already in his father’s lap. Now the father- son duo will have to find another reason to unite, their old good reason is gone!

My father is otherwise quite a punctual man when it comes to going to office, and so are most of the uncles near my house, but your batting could always be considered as an exception. Good that now people will reach their work on time, no more schoolbuses would be made to wait because you were reaching your centuryand my tuition teacher would never turn on the television in the middle of a class so that we could see SOMEONE score a double hundred in an ODI. Law and order will be restored!!

Do you remember any of those multitudinous times when you were wrongly declared out? By the time you walked off the crease, shaking your head in disappointment and yet smiling, never uttering a wrong word, I would have already cursed the umpire’s whole dynasty, even his generations to come. And I’d always see my mother smiling, trying to tell me – “Look that’s how I want you to behave with grace and dignity when things go wrong with you for no fault of yours.” She never told it though; she believed you’d make me understand it. Amazingly enough- you did it!

There was an unwritten yet ‘always- followed’ rule in my home- ‘The moment Sachin gets out, no one is allowed to watch India’s batting.’ I wouldn’t let anyone to do it. My cousins still remember me as the boy who ran away from the TV room and broke down in my mother’s lap when you got out on 99 against Pakistan in Mohali in 2007. It took my mother some time to understand the reason why I was crying, I could barely speak it to her. And since that day Kamran Akmal is called KHATMAL (a bug), how dare he dive and take that catch of yours? There were many more 99s in your career but this particular one hurt the most. My brother and father do not hesitate a wee bit to enact me teasingly, crying and switching off the TV, whenever Sehwag’s reaching a century. Yes, I didn’t allow anyone at home to watch Sehwag score his first triple hundred at Multan. In my head, that milestone was always reserved for ‘THE certain man from Mu mbai’ and watching him inch closer to it before you gave me eye ulcers. You were my definition of cricket in those times, you still are! It’s just that I’ve managed to add a few synonyms (Dravid, Laxman, Sehwag) to that definition. It took me time to realize what you had always believed- that cricket is a team game and these guys complete you and vice versa.

Australia was the team I supported when they toured India in 2004-05, the sole reason being you were out due to injury. You were CRICKET PERSONIFIED, rather INDIA PERSONIFIED. Without you there was no India for me. I regret that series a lot today. It has been the only treacherous act I’ve ever been involved in. But I also remember the last test of that series, in Mumbai, that we won. You were back in that match, though nowhere being close to fit, yet you were there!!

I could never watch you in that blue jersey in a stadium. I had the opportunity to watch that match of WC2011 against S.Africa at Nagpur. I almost had the tickets but I chose not to go (I don’t know why). You scored a century and since that day I’ve been kicking myself every day.I thought you’d give me another opportunity someday, well it didn’t happen.(oh you did score another ODI hundred a year later at Bangladesh, but well I don’t have enough money yet to travel out of my country).

Maybe in the end we failed you. Maybe you didn’t consider us worthy enough to have another glimpse of you in that blue jersey. Amongst all the hype that was there for your hundredth century, for the first time I saw a side of you that was prone, had its own insecurities. Fears and insecurities that deserved to creep into your mind. EARLIER I HAD IDOLISED YOU, NOW I FELL IN LOVE WITH YOU. There were some unnoticed people who hadn’t forgotten the earlier 99 tons that you had scored. In fact they cherish some of the molehills you constructed more than the peaks that you conquered. They adore some of your knocks that never reached close to a century! I just felt like reassuring you- such people do exist.

My father says after Gavaskar retired, he thought he’d never be able to watch cricket with the same enthusiasm. Then you arrived into the scene, and then I did, and he started breathing cricket once again. Let’s *pat our backs* for doing it for him. So on that night of the finals of World Cup 2011, I had gathered into an auditorium with my friends and a hundred other acquaintances, and my papa, to watch the action on a big screen. And when finally the moment arrived, people were dancing around, lifting each other up and congratulating each other- in short- the scene was similar in the stadium as well as in that auditorium. But amongst all the OOhhh and AAAHhhh (of happiness), there came a moment when my father was looking towards me- teary eyed- I was the same. No words spoken!!! Just that look. I owe that moment to you.

People say that ODI cricket will never remain the same with your departure. I’d say, it was never bound to remain the same- with you or without you. All that matters is it should survive in full bloom as it had in your era, in OUR era. Well if GOD wishes it surely will!!! I’m a firm believer in optimism….. Oh, did I say GOD?? Well, ummm, but isn’t that supposed to be YOU!!??

-Just another one of those billion voices

Srajal Nayak


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