Friday, 15 November 2013

God, Im so sorry

I am not a fan of Sachin Tendulkar.

There. Would that be enough to get your attention? Well, it has always been the truth. He used to play aggressively they say. Then he changed and adjusted his innings as best suited his aging body which was plagued by the injuries, famous of them all - the Tennis Elbow.

I was arrogant enough to say I didn't give a damn where and how he batted. All what concerned me was that he scored runs as a Team India player and that was enough and that was all there was to it. At least to my blinded eyes. India weren't exactly a superpower in cricket then. Oh, save the tomatoes and spoilt eggs. I'm no fool to incur the wrath of a nation by a single blogpost which speaks ill about The Greatest Cricketer The World Will Ever Know. (Is this title longer than He Who Must Not Be Named? You bet.) This is what happened.

Yesterday - 14th November, 2013  18:00 hours
The attendance shortage was alarming. This was my first in my seven semesters of university life. Life had to go on. Something had to be done. But why in this world was everyone harping about Tendulkar? Cmon people, give him a break, he's also a human being as far his physical form goes.

Every turn, every corner, you could hear people buzzing about his achievements, stats, numbers, figures....aargh! It just went on. I mean, 200 is just a number. And I had a lab exam coming up. Was I too selfish?

Years Ago
I remembered my dad cheering and constantly praising Sachin. And I nodded, not wanting to disagree with my own dad. Deep down inside, I didn't feel any different about Tendulkar than any other Indian player. Maybe, and this is really a maybe, I was a Dravid fan and I felt hurt when he was often overshadowed by Tendulkar's knocks which came almost in the same matches in which Dravid scored.

Yesterday - 14th November 2013  01:00 am
And then, all of a sudden, there was no way out of the attendance problem. And my preparations for the laboratory exam went awry. After much discussions and walking and talking, people slowly retired to their rooms. My watch read 01:36 am.

Bored, I took my phone and switched it on. What IS the nation saying? Twitteratti were all gaga over #ThankYouSachin #SRT200. More than 7 articles in the last 3 days were about Tendulkar in Cricinfo - his life, his first test century, his brief Yorkshire stint and excerpts from legends all over the world about his glittering career.

I felt a twinge of guilt inside my heart. What wrong did the great man do not to deserve my wishes. Not that he needs my certificate! Surely not! I am one insignificant human among the billion Indians that always wishes him to play well. But a Tendulkar fan? That was too much asking from me, especially when I would've anytime preferred to watch Dravid, and Dhoni play. There was only one explanation that answered this madness from me: I wasn't fortunate to know His greatness and class. That was it.

Mumbling, I rolled over to sleep. Tendulkar was not out for the day on 38.

Today - 15th November 2013 10: 30 am
Damn! Got up late. Had to hurry for every single thing. The match was the last thing on my mind, until I had to wait half an hour in a Xerox shop. Somehow, that happened. Trapped in a hot room of four walls, I had no other choice than to flip my phone on and check how the Little Master was doing. Not out on 71 till drinks in the morning. Wow. That too off 115 balls! That was some solid test batting of Tendulkar of yore! Not to mention the boundaries.

"Sachin na yaaru, pah, vera level", shouted the owner of the Xerox shop, fumbling for change with the customer.

"Erm, yeah alright", said I, somewhat unconvincingly.

I must say I drew one of the most loathsome stares I've ever received in my life. I slunk away as quietly as possible. And then this showed up on my Cricinfo mobile screen:

Deonarine to Tendulkar, OUT, oh it's over! Tendulkar leaves! There was a brief silence before everyone realised it was time to applaud. It was a flatter delivery outside off and Tendulkar tried to cut it fine, but it bounced extra and the thick edge went quickly towards Sammy at first slip, who takes a good catch in front of his face. The silence returns as Tendulkar disappears in the pavilion. Strange eeriness at Wankhede.
SR Tendulkar c Sammy b Deonarine 74 (118b 12x4 0x6) SR: 62.71

I shouldn't have denied my mind when it kept saying, "You fool, do you know what are you missing out on?"
And then, for the umpteenth time that day, I kept thinking I wish I saw his innings instead of being stuck here with work and lab and all other insignificant stuff that comes in your way when God takes stance to entertain and empower.

Today - 15th November 2013 18:45 pm
I had just come back from a small meeting, only to realize I missed all the highlights of the day. This time, I really cursed loud. Why couldn't I see His last match atleast once on television?

The truth finally dawned. I didn't deserve it. One of my classmates, to whom I had blabbered my neutral opinion on Tendulkar, just kept blasting me all through the evening which didn't quite sound like jest. Rest of the evening went smoothly - a heavy dinner with an overdose of Lays and ice-cream.

Today - 15th November 2013 22:15 pm

Browsed Facebook - Check
Ate 2 packet Lays - Check
Whiled away Friday evening - Check.
Bedtime - Check, hey hold those horses! I had my net connected, I had time. Couldn't I not stop showing such a horrible attitude to His glory and watch a decent Sachin innings? Alright. Headed to Youtube.

Today - 15th November 2013 22:16 pm

That was fast! I had trouble with my sim always! And I watched it at this link:

SRT200 with an infinity for two zeros! That was nice.
I kept pratting to people about how noisy the crowd was. Now, I really heard it. Boy, I felt respect for the legend. And I aint making this up. All the way down to the solid Wankhede ground, step by step, this man...NO! This God commanded such a response that Australians and West Indians felt the noise in their hometowns.

Wait a minute, the umpires completing the Guard of Honour? Since when did...ah yes, the Sachin Fever. It was always there, only today it reached a crescendo. Did I feel bad about my previous feelings about Him? Yeah, a bit.

And then, slowly and steadily, he dismantled and exposed 2 facts with every shot he played - the fact that there was absolutely no tooth in the current WI bowling line-up and the fact that I was a completely ignorant person of the game who knew nothing about passion.

I used to think, "Hey, I know this moment Gary Sobers and Hanif Mohammed score triple centuries......or A female nightwatchman is called a nightwatchbatperson...or hey, remember the way Yuvi jumped one handed and took this catch against Bangladesh?"

Well, all that ego was reduced to cinders.

India trail by 77, he attempted something which I was sure would've gone for a six had He given an elevation. Then I remembered. The way He stepped down the track and chumma loft the spinner into the stands. Straight, neat and playfully accurate.

India 95 for 2, did you see the way He put his front foot forward (dead straight front foot) and middle the ball for a four, why did the fielder even have to run? Then I remembered. The way He made India-Pakistan encounters feel like Civil Wars on a cricket pitch.

India 149 for 2 and out comes the drive down long off and the crowd goes Woooooaaaahhh! Believe me, I went along with the crowd inside my room. My heart leapt with joy. Then I remembered. The countless occasions the exasperation on the tall pacers faces. They simply couldn't bend down. They couldn't do ANYTHING. We were glad He played on our side. Sach was his briskness that Test cricket with Him playing was never ever a dull occasion.

In fact, I do remember the afternoons I used to watch Sachin play out the post tea sessions. Shame on me for using words that belittled the Little Master.

A couple more boundaries between India 150 and India 170, all by Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar with childlike innocence. Yesterday was Children's Day, but doesn't He celebrate it everyday by laughing merrily, running coyly and inspiring greatly?

India 172 for 2 and Sachin provides another reason to cheer big. The near-90 degree drive that flowed from His bat. Hyundai Verna Fluidic? Oh please, give me a break, Sachin Straight Drive Fluidic. A quick reflex from Anjali Tendulkar from the cozy stands.

Sachin and the Indian flag shown together. Fifty up. Believe it or not, I had a lone tear in my eye that trickled down my cheek. I uttered an apology. Sach an innings of His life.

After that, every boundary was lost amidst the cheers, I could hardly see where the ball went. Blurred vision, more tears. I cried out loud.

India 221 for 2, Tendulkar 74, Pujara 60. A stunned silence erupts for a full 3 seconds as Tendulkar is caught at slips. We all wanted more. But He edged that one.  He looked slightly dejected with the entire innings before that was quite uncharacteristic of the shot He played. And the crowd realized, "What the hell, its His last walk back!" And the Wankhede reverberated in reverence, for one final time, for 3 long minutes.

"Ive seen God departing."

Im so sorry, God. I've paid for my words and actions dearly by not being able to watch your last game live. I still struggle to comprehend you and your greatness. Thank you again. For everything.

The world has now become a place of mortals jostling with each other for pride and prestige. Amidst such a world, stood one player of class, passion and technique - Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar


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