I would like to start my letter with a confession that I did not admire you a decade ago like I do today. But now when I look back, I realize how much you have influenced me in my life, right from those days when I wasn't your biggest fan.
I was in 8th grade when I first saw the glimpse of a future superstar in you. It was your debut century in the World Cup against Bangladesh. But at that point of time I convinced myself that you would be able to reach only so much in your career, because you did not seem to have the attitude of a superstar.
The irony is that I used to criticize you a lot when I was in high school, and would try and make your fans doubt themselves for believing in you. They say don't judge a book by its cover and that's exactly what I did.
Maybe that is what a majority of Indians did too. But somewhere in that process of criticizing you, we actually discovered the real you - the one who used to travel long distances with his dad so that he could have a few hits in the nets, the one who lost his dad and yet did not forgo the match as he loved cricket above everything, the one who acted with courage no matter what the situation.
Now, more than a decade later, I'm just blown away by what you have achieved; I take inspiration from you every single day of my life.
So much so that when I was in 11th grade I wanted to dress like you, talk like you, look like you. I was obsessed with everything related to you. That's when many things in my life began to change.
I started taking life more sincerely because I saw how sincere you were with cricket, which is your life. I started following you in the news and social media, and if there was an exam regarding you I would have been the topper of the batch for sure.
I'm sure you'll remember the England series in which your form fell away. That's what the media was waiting for, and they criticized you mercilessly.
I don't know how much you were affected by it but I've literally cried reading many of the articles. I stopped concentrating on my studies and my grades fell, and I was down for almost a couple of months.
Then you came back to form and showed them all what it takes to be a cricket star in a country full of people who are crazy about the sport and who worship their cricketing idols. That's when my board exams were around the corner, and watching you do what you did inspired me so much that I really put in all the effort I could muster.
The result? My highest score since 4th grad - 92.6%. That's when I realized that what happened in my life was dependent on how you performed!
Since then, things have been better than ever because I picked up the qualities of focus and persistence from you and I have been doing fairly well in life. This only proves to me that cricket is not just a game in India.
There is a reason for you being the torch bearer of the game for the current generation. You are bearing a lot on your shoulders and I have huge respect for all that you have achieved and are going to achieve in the future.
An ardent fan