The lift opened. The little boy waiting to get in froze, on seeing who just stepped out of the lift. The figure smiled at the boy who was still unsure if the person standing next to him was the same one whose stories and videos he had grown up with. The manager of the restaurant was expecting him and with the most courteous of smiles – something he reserved only for his most special guests – showed him his table in a little corner. His host was already there. The last rays of the sun from the window perfectly lit up his hair; the hair that always was covered by his blue cap, something which was so dear to him – to them. He hugged the person whom the world called ‘The Wall’.
Rahul Dravid looked at his watch. It was time. He had arrived fifteen minutes earlier; with Bangalore traffic, you can never take chances. Playing safe somehow came naturally to him. Then he saw him coming. The same gait which had received standing ovations for over two decades whenever he walked in to bat. At least he would not grab his crotch now, he thought to himself and stole a smile. The dimple took its place in his cheeks. He stood up to welcome Sachin Tendulkar as the two were locked in an embrace. They could well have punched each other’s fists or high-fived with their bats if only they were carrying it, as they had done umpteen times in the past.
They took their seats. They were handed their menus. Dravid ordered baked fish for himself without even looking at his menu, while Sachin narrowed down on his favorite lamb cutlets. Sachin inquired if Dravid would be seeking re-elections for another term as BCCI President. Dravid played with a dead bat, saying he hadn’t made up his mind yet. Both were well aware of how good a job Dravid had done, first as BCCI Secretary and then as its President. They then talked about Sachin’s plans of becoming the coach of the national side. His term as MP had long ended after which he decided to try out coaching using Mumbai Indians as the pilot team. The experiment had gone well, and he felt he was ready for the job.
The waiter came with the food. He was still in awe of his guests. Both had been his heroes from ever since he could remember. Superheroes in their own rights. The gentleman on his right was like Spiderman who had long been gifted the key to the city. On his left was gracefully seated The Dark Knight – someone whom the country always needed, but did not desreve. Both had co-existed together in his mind and heart – both had occupied their own reserved spaces. There was one moment of conflict between the Dravid fan and the Sachin fan following the infamous ‘194 declaration’, but that was long forgotten.
The waiter just had to tell them. Hesitantly, he said that they were his all-time favorite batsmen in ODIs and Tests respectively, not knowing how they would react. They laughed and he joined in the laughter. When he had left, Dravid tried to get one up by saying that he had more runs in T20s than Sachin, both having played exactly one match each. Sachin was quick to retort that the match in which he featured had resulted in an Indian victory. They laughed as they recalled how unforgiving critics were during their playing days.
There was some kind of a ruckus at the far end of the hall and both turned towards the source. All the noise was from a drunk man who was being asked to leave the place. Both of them could never understand what’s with people being asked to leave when on a high.
The evening flowed smoothly. Just like the 6920 runs they had scored in Tests in each other’s company.