Indians do not allow their icons to age. And that is why, be it cinema, politics or even sport, they always want their heroes to be evergreen, and to keep recreating the magic that they conjured when they were in their heyday.
One man in particular whom India never allowed to age was Sachin Tendulkar. And that is why, even when Tendulkar was into his 23rd year in international cricket, and in pursuit of an improbable 100th international hundred, the whole of India got behind the master and egged him on. It looked like India wanted the hundred more than Tendulkar did.
After all, he was India’s passport to prosperity.
But then, the Tendulkar that India fell in love with, was a very different Tendulkar from what India witnessed in 2012. The Tendulkar whom India fell in love with, was a Tendulkar who played cricket in a fearless way, a Tendulkar who made impossible feats look ridiculously easy, a Tendulkar who made the nation hope and dream.
It was a Tendulkar who conquered the world, a Tendulkar who unshackled the mind.
But the ravages of Father Time spare no man, and Tendulkar was no exception. And that is exactly where the problem was; India did not want to accept the fact that someday, wrinkles would start appearing on their hero’s face as well.
Tendulkar, 39 at that time, was nudging and prodding, a far cry from the magician he once was. It was a Tendulkar who was waging a losing battle, a Tendulkar who was struggling to keep the dying light aglow.
It took 370 days for the master to get from 99 to 100 international hundreds. Every time he strode out to bat, the nation demanded it from him, which made the pressure even greater.
Finally, on the 6th of March 2012, Tendulkar did it - against Bangladesh. It was a hundred that showed the struggle he had been through, a hundred that was probably his toughest, and a hundred that finally made ‘God’ look mortal.
And when ‘The Master’ finally got to the milestone, there was more relief than joy. But what did the hundred do to our hero?
This was a hundred that was like a blemish in an otherwise splendid and sublime masterpiece, a hundred that made a superhero appear ordinary, a hundred that revealed the mortal side of an immortal icon.
But then we have got to blame ourselves more than Tendulkar for that. We do not allow our icons to age, do we?Published 24 Apr 2019, 14:41 IST