He is the cricketer of the generation. The renown will sing paeans and would be heard but what about fanatical fans like me? How do I feel about this? What does he mean to a generation? I have hated him a few times for not carrying us to victory. Why do my lachrymal swell up analogous to the feeling you have when you think about blowing some departed soul’s feelings to smithereens?
The insouciance of a young kid facing a menacing fast bowler in his backyard was mesmerizing. As a kid adapting to the extremely competitive, cut-throat environment, I probably found my mentor. As the famous saying goes, “Courage is not being fearless; it’s the capacity to conquer fear”. I had my fears growing up. Would I be academically successful? Would a member of the opposite sex ever like me with my melanin overdose? Would I ever have enough escape velocity for escaping the proletarian surroundings? This kid with a hair like labyrinth and who seemed obviously sartorially challenged just like me welcomed annihilation with a bleeding nose. He wasn’t annihilated but was victorious. I needed the dose of the COURAGE medicine he instilled in me.
I was biting my finger nails and South Africa was poised to win. There was an argument on the field and I was watching the telecast. Who will bowl the final over? When the guns are loaded and pointing, some people run and some people lead from the front in to the barrage of fire. I was always a no limelight person. I would rather run than face the heat. While playing street side cricket, I would rather not be the person due to whom the team lost. I would rather be the person who participates in chiding the person who bowled the last bad over or missed the last shot. I was witnessing something which was an unknown trait to me, LEADERSHIP. If the script had gone wrong, he had a nation baying for his blood. He stepped up and bowled us to victory.
I had just joined a company as a fresher to gain some IT experience. He was at his second stint of captaincy. He ducked to a McGrath bouncer and was adjudged LBW. In the next test he scored a 116 and the next highest score read 31. He could not fathom his teammates’ lack of genius. He was apparently not holding failing members accountable. He was failing as a team leader. I was learning the value of DELEGATION of responsibilities and tracking ACCOUNTABILITY very early in my career since I am only good at what I do and not a genius, unlike him. His failures were as good teachers.
Two bowlers, Andy Caddick and Shoaib Akhtar targeted his mental strength with a volley of excruciating words about his abilities. At the same time, on my personal front, I was not undergoing a great time. I had undergone a surgery and my mental strength did not need any inimical words to deteriorate. He sent Caddick’s ball flying over the midwicket ropes and shred Shoaib’s bowling to pieces, in the process intimidating both to an extent of reversing the mental strength deterioration process. No indulgence in hostility or impish vengeful retorts. The work did the talking and the world applauded. I was learning the importance of RESILIENCE from him.
He was on 194 when Dravid declared. He did not hide his disappointment and had expected the team to cut him some slack (in John Wright’s words). He after all bore the burden of the team single handed on many occasions. He put his disappointment behind him in a jiffy and bamboozled Moin Khan with a googly. He celebrated the test victory with the team without any reticence. I was learning TEAMWORK from him. No one is above the team and the game, he quotes.
I am sure there are millions like me out there. I will never meet him in person unless a freak coincidence of improbable events leads to such an event. When I look back at my life, there are many things I was imbibing from his career at a subconscious level. He is a GOD to millions; to me he is an inspiration, an institution that taught me priceless values of life. Sachin Tendulkar, take my bow for being the cricketer of the generation.