Disclaimer: This is a fiction piece and NOT a real account from Ajit Tendulkar. It is completely a figment of the author’s imagination
12th Nov, 2013
It’s almost midnight but I am wide awake. I normally sleep early but tonight, I just can’t. The big day is almost there and I am very excited. 14th November, 2013, my brother, Sachin Tendulkar, will don that India cap for the last time in his cricket career.
It’s finally over, it really is! How do I feel about it?
A part of me is relieved that it’s over but another part of me is sad that it really is. It’s been a long journey, 24 years to be exact. Hang on, that’s for the people out there, for me it’s been a good long 30 years.
But I still remember the day when he was handed his India cap – his first run, his first boundary that zoomed past Waqar and then the way he got out. He tried to flick through mid wicket, missed it and the ball crashed into his stumps – poor shot, in fact a very bad one when you’re just on 15.
I remember the last Test of that tour as well. Waqar worked up some serious heat and Sachin got hurt. It was bad cut but I knew he won’t leave the ground and the brother in me felt proud when he got up and smashed the next ball through covers and his “main khelega” story became an epic.
However, I never thought that he would play for India so early. It all started when I was playing a match in the neighborhood with my friends and we had a man short in our team. Sachin was hanging around aimlessly figuring out which tree to climb next when I called him and drafted him in our team.
He didn’t have a bat of his own, so he had to make do with mine. He was a small kid and my bat was way too heavy for him but somehow he picked it up by holding it right at the bottom of the handle – a grip that eventually stuck and became a nationwide fashion.
But he hit the ball hard even with that heavy bat. There wasn’t a defensive bone in his body. It wasn’t that he hit every ball with the middle of the bat but the ones he did, stayed hit. I was very surprised because even the kids elder to us couldn’t hit the ball that hard.
But Sachin hardly played cricket; he was a tennis fan, a John McEnroe one to be more precise. He had that wild mop of curly hair like the American tennis player and our older brother got him a head band. He would actually go around the neighborhood, wearing that headband, posing like John McEnroe.
Often people come up to me and ask that how did I spot the incredible talent of Sachin Tendulkar?
To be honest, I really don’t have an answer to that. I wanted to be a cricketer and played my share of Harris Shield and the Kanga League matches but whenever I saw my little brother bat; I wished that I could hit the ball that hard and that clean. I was a teenager myself and was only learning the game but something inside my told me that my little brother had a special talent.
I had to verify it and the only person I could think of was Achrekar Sir. For me, he was the best coach in Mumbai because he knew talent when he saw it.
So, one morning, I dragged Sachin to Shivaji Park at Sir’s practice. I convinced Sir to have a look at him and he agreed but Sachin was a complete let down. He missed most, mishit a few and just didn’t look comfortable. I was a little embarrassed but I still wanted him to be under Sir’s guidance.
Achrekar Sir told me that he was too small and wasn’t ready but I convinced him, somehow, to give him another chance. And that’s when things changed. The next day, my brother was hitting their best bowlers out of the park and Sir was more than impressed.
Thus began the journey of my little brother, the man the world knows as Sachin Tendulkar. From there on he has grown in stature and on the 14th, he would play the last game of his life for India.
As I look out of my window, I see this huge billboard sign with a picture of Sachin that says, “You will never retire from our hearts!” – It makes me happy, proud too. I wanted my brother to become a cricketer because I wasn’t talented enough. He not only became one but he became the best the world will ever see.
For me, he’s even better than Don Bradman. Biased? Of course, I am. He is my little brother after all.
In the last couple of years, Sachin hasn’t been at his best and people have remarked that he has overstayed him welcome. But they never realized that it’s a very hard thing to let go when you’ve worked so hard for it all your life. My brother hardly knows anything else but play cricket. Nothing else would give him the fame and the success that this game has bestowed upon him because that’s what he was born to do. Sachin Tendulkar was born to rule the world with the power of his willow.
Cricket has changed in these 24 years. The rules have changed, the players have changed and the audience has changed. In fact, the equation between the bat and ball has changed but my brother stood like constant in that equation to balance it out.
But it’s going to end soon. One more match and he will be gone forever. As soon as the clock strikes five on the 18th, he will be done with it and then, you will miss him. He won’t be there to save any more batting collapses; he won’t be there to take on the quickest of the bowlers neither will you ever see him dance down the track to shred a spinner.
You will miss the back foot punch through covers, the bottom handed grip, that crouch before the stance, those light weight leg guards with taping on the top left corner and of course, you will miss the sound of the heavily taped 3 pounder that it made when it met a 150 kmph missile from a Lee or an Akram.
You will finally feel the emptiness of that number 4 position in the Indian batting order.
However, it was inevitable. He has given a lot to his country and to the fans all over the world and now it’s time he gives something back to his family. It’s time he starts giving back to those who stood beside him when the elbow gave in, the back cracked up and the runs ebbed.
But there’s something much bigger on my mind. I don’t know what I will do next.
All these years, my life has revolved around Sachin Tendulkar. I have kept track of his schedules, his performances, his finances and his family. I did it with all my devotion because I had my small selfish reason as well. I took refuge of Sachin Tendulkar and made his life my own. I hear people say that without me, there wouldn’t have been a Sachin Tendulkar. Let me set that record straight today, without a Sachin Tendulkar, Ajit Tendulkar would have been one of those numerous Indians who once had a dream.
Now, the dream is over and the play is in its last act. It’s time I hand all of it over to him and start leading my own life. But I think Sachin still needs me, may be more than his cricketing days. I don’t know what he plans to do next. He has lived all his life in a bubble and in the security of the game. He had an aim, a goal and a vision but now, it’s a clean slate. He has to start a new innings all over again, only this time, he won’t have his three pound log to help him out.
And that’s where I come in, yet again, to help him usher into a world of unfamiliarity – a world without cricket, a world without the spotlight, a world that is of the common man, a world that’s alien to him; a world that Ajit Tendulkar is more experienced to handle.
However, before I do that, I have one more challenge left. No, not mentoring Arjun, I will leave that bit to Sachin. My next challenge is to take Ai to the stadium for Sachin’s last game. She won’t want to go because she has never been to the ground but it will be my farewell gift to the man who fulfilled my ambitions and made me live my dreams through his achievements.
I won’t do anything for Sachin Tendulkar anymore, but I will do this last bit for my kid brother.Published 12 Nov 2013, 16:54 IST