Strolling through Wall Street: An open letter to Rahul Dravid
An admirer pens down a letter to a human being par excellence, who also happened to play cricket for India.
Whenever the words 'Rahul Dravid' are pronounced, the mind instantaneously creates a silhouette of an astute undaunted figure defending a kookaburra - still-headed, steely in resolve and perennially in perfect balance. There's also a background score to this silhouette - the thudding sound when the ball meets the meat of the bat. For a generation which seeks romance in cricket, this sight, or perhaps this feeling, is the one to behold and treasure.
The dimensions which you have lent to the 'sport' of cricket are many; yet the facets which you have lent to the 'spirit' of cricket are simply beyond the comprehension of numbers. Your persona may not have exuberated with the highest peak of flamboyance, yet your rugged fluency withstood the roughest tempests of time. In an age of vowel-less 140 character rants, you are like a well-punctuated, grammatically indisputable mesmerising prose.
No teacher in India can perhaps teach averages and standard deviation to students without citing your example. In times when everything and everyone changes at a brisk pace, and even the so-called constants later become known as disguised variables, your consistency was no less than assuring divinity. Whenever the opposition bowlers saw you taking guard, they always knew they had a long day coming up before them.
The phrase 'change is the only constant' has now hardened to a cliché. Yet, when constancy is a product of evolution, as it was in your case, it elevates batsmanship to a different plane altogether.
Rahul, it was always tough being your fan. For reasons unknown to mankind, one always needed to explain and justify why we belonged to a breed who forgot the world around them when the first Indian wicket fell. Being your fan meant being dragged to a lopsided debate, often with unclear conclusions. As a nation, we mistakenly view greatness as a comparable attribute - 'He is great, but maybe not as great as him'.
Why can't greatness be viewed in isolation? Why don't we realise we don't need a 'but' every single time? We have failed miserably in acknowledging the heroism of the 'best actor in a supporting role'. No wonder, the arclight and the peak-moment gala is reserved for 'The Best Actor', even on the day of film awards.
We shouldn't be questioning 'great' just at the thought of a 'greater' emerging. Obviously, these things don't matter to you as much as these do to us. However, once we assign an idol-status to someone, we become their spokespersons without any deliberate thought.
For all that you know - you represented India's middle class attempting to break shackles which they unknowingly created for themselves. Your era marked the renaissance of both India and Indian cricket. It told the world we longer need to be patted for every good performance we deliver. You are a binding precedent of what relentless hard-work and no-cutting-the-corner work ethic can lead to. You showed us newer ways of displaying channeled aggression. Your on-field and off-field behaviour led the world to believe that being intimidating isn't always being distasteful. Wikipedia defines a wall as 'a structure that defines an area, carries a load, or provides shelter or security'. Get the link?
Sooner or later, people forget statistics; it's the stature which creates a lasting impression. Your second innings as a coach to the younger version of Indian team, yet again, gives us that comforting feeling, that our future is in safe hands. A painter is most expressive when he is in-front of a canvas. Maybe, this analogy applies to ex-cricketers as well.
And in spite of an illustrious career, you remain just like most of your shots - grounded. (Exception: your debut T20I match!)
Thank you for being Rahul Dravid. Thank you for being, Rahul Dravid.