For the first time in my life, and maybe in the life of many others, the retirement of a sportsperson have brought tears to the eyes. But he was not an ordinary sportsperson and neither was he only a sportsperson, he was the reigning deity of our cricket crazy nation; A mortal who had risen to the rank of God in the hearts of a million fans. Yes, he is SACHIN RAMESH TENDULKAR.
Sachin Tendulkar started playing at the international level at the same time we first learned playing cricket. And as we kept learning the game, he kept on growing in stature in the international arena. And by the time we understood cricket, Sachin was already our God. We, our generation, were indeed lucky that we were able to follow and grow alongside his prolific cricketing career. For us, Sachin Tendulkar defined our childhood and today, as he retired, the child inside us has also taken its retirement.
The memories attached with Sachin has been numerous; whether it was those two special desert storm innings against Australia in Sharjah in 1998 or that special 98 runs against Pakistan in the 2003 World Cup. Whether it was the match when he made 200 against South Africa in Gwalior or those moments when he had weaved magic with the ball in his hands. During the 90s, when load shedding was a normal feature and invertors had not yet made an entry to our homes, I used to keep batteries inserted in the radio, so that I could listen to the commentary, in case the lights go out. The match, in which, he took his first 5 wicket haul against Australia, I still remember, listening to it on the radio.
I still feel the disappointment that descended on the mind when he got out. The disappointment was there even when he got out scoring a century because we always wanted that he keeps on playing to the end and never get out. I still remember that test match in Chennai against Pakistan, when he got out after a brilliant century, bringing India close to a win but the lower order collapsed, ultimately leading to India’s loss. We were about 30 people cramped in a small room, watching the match in our local cable distributor’s office and after that loss, we all were cursing the rest of the Indian team for failing to support Tendulkar. Yes, for us, in the 1990s, it was like India playing with only one player, the one and only, Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar and the rest were there just to add up to the numbers.
It has now been announced that Sachin will be presented with the Bharat Ratna. He truly deserves it. However, there are a few people, who say, is Sachin worthy of the award? What contribution has he to the nation? I would answer this by saying that he is the single largest contributor to India’s Gross National Happiness. He made people forget their sorrows and lit up the smile in the faces of millions of Indians with his game. He united the people of this diverse nation in a way that is unable to believe unless seen and experienced. He has been a role model for the younger generation, showing them what the mantras of success are; telling them that there is no shortcut to success but can only be achieved by hard work and with the zeal to succeed.
As the era of the greatest Indian Sportsperson comes to an end, I dedicate these few words of mine to him, for his role in making our growing days more wonderful, for making us laugh and cry with joy, for teaching us some important values of life and for all those moments which will always be etched in our memories. THANK YOU SACHIN, without you life would have been less cheerful.
P.S. I have been carrying a picture of Sachin in my purse since Class VIII. It is actually a card that used to come free with Centre Fresh Chewing Gum. (See Below) The purse kept on changing but the Sachin card has still remained a constant. People usually keep the picture of God or their loved ones in their purse, but for me he has always remained equivalent to God and he is one of my most loved persons. Thank You for being with me always.