I do not know if this letter will ever reach you. It’s exactly like when a kid writes a letter to GOD. He posts it and hopes that it gets delivered. I’m doing my part of writing and posting it. Here, I simply want to state your importance in my life and how you have impacted a common man’s journey, and the perspectives of a society or of a nation.
I’m a common man, a guy who did not have the guts to follow his dreams and left cricket in some wilderness of crowded competitive mob. I wish I had taken Robert Frost’s words on ‘The road less travelled’ seriously and followed my dream. There probably are millions like me who chose an easier path in their lives leaving their passion on the wayside; the reason: survival or cowardice, whichever way one perceives it.
Many of us have lived our dreams through your eyes, like a father through his son and a friend through his friends. You cry we remorse, you rejoice we enjoy, you breathe we live. Never in your life take our expectations as a burden but as our respect.
Sachin, it has taken me more than 5 years to finish this letter and I don’t even know if it’s done. I started this letter with utmost enthusiasm but right after a couple of lines, my initial thought was – “Nah, let me just enjoy watching him play cricket, feel the moment and emotions, and then pour them out here.” But after you retired, it seemed like a huge chunk of my soul had been squeezed out of the mortal flesh. Without having any clue about it, you have played an extremely important role in my life.
Sachin, you have been my role model along with my dad. The earliest I can remember seeing you on television is 1994 – raw, young and determined face with the curly hair. When we were young, we always wanted to be the superstars who we watched on the screen. I come from a small city, Bikaner, where power cuts are a part of daily life with the timings even notified to the households via the newspaper.
I would go to our neighbors who had a cable connection (yes, having cable connection was a luxury) so that I could watch you play. Power cuts in the city would happen for a long duration, but you would still remain not out, even if they extended it by an hour. The hunt for blue shiny shades at Connaught Place/Model Town (Delhi) went on forever while visiting relatives.
All I’m trying to say here is that ever since my childhood, you were an important part of my life, and the society around me also made me feel that we were in this together. I’m sure by now you’ve heard enough of the superstitious bucket – keep sitting at the same place, not eating or drinking, not getting up to even pee because Sachin might get out. Yes, I was part of that cult too; I had to be, there was just no way out.
I think this all just formed the basis of how I started to love the game and the person who played it so beautifully, humbly and respectfully. But what I want to write here is how you have affected me as a kid growing up to challenges of this world, how you have inspired me in taking life’s decisions other than copying your stance while batting right handed, short run up bowling, MRF/Adidas bats etc.
One thing I’m proud of (just like millions of others) is to follow you at Wankhede. Being at Wankhede to watch the Indian team was just amazing. To have seen you at your home ground, having cheered you and joined the North Stand was of utmost excitement.
The first thing that struck me was when I read about “main khelega” incident with a bloody nose, right after you were hit by a Waqar Younis bouncer in your very first series (age 16). It simply taught me how one just can’t afford to be weak in front of the opponent or adverse circumstances as it sends the wrong message.
The century in WACA, Perth always inspires me and tells me that one day all of us have to grow mature and face life’s real challenges. And it’s never too young to face a difficulty and stand up to it. There are always different ways to do it, but one that has transpired from you is to look into the eye of the opponent, believe in yourself and then attack.
Your World Cup 96’ heroics is something I invariably relate to, because of the fact that you carried the burden of the whole nation on your shoulders at the tender age of 23. It was my first taste of watching the World Cup live and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I really started to connect with you from that point onwards.
1998 was the golden year, and it holds so much importance that a lot of my passwords were 1998 (Sachin’s year). Triangular series in Bangladesh was the start and then came along Australia’s tour. We were beaten in the Pepsi Cup final in India (triangular one-day series) and I clearly remember your statement before the Sharjah cup final – “ It happened to us earlier (losing the final after being the top team in league stage), it can happen to them (Australia) this time.
My generation can never forget Sharjah, it's etched in our memories. Each stroke (long off six to Tom Moody, flicks to Kasprowicz and a lot more) along with Tony Greg’s commentary, you single handedly took the revenge for a nation. You made an everlasting impression on me about the passion and determination one has to put in to win it all and also that if you believe it, it’s possible.
The century against Kenya during the 99’ world cup cemented my faith in you and the way you carry yourself. Coming back to national duty after just losing your father! I don’t need to say much, but all of us saw the things that mattered in your life and how you respected the game, your father and being the son of the nation. In my opinion, you performed the best that day and I am sure that your dad would have been proud.
The partnership with Mongia and the century against Pakistan in Chennai (lost by 12 runs) was a soldier act. You just showed us to what extent you were ready to go to see India through. That was also the first time I broke down after Indian team’s loss probably because by now I was emotionally connected with you and the game. To calm the whole crowd after the unintentional run out from Shoaib was also much appreciated. We lost, but you won, again.
The way you have carried yourself off the field has also had an everlasting impression on me. You have always been humble and down to earth which always takes me back to the poem ‘IF’ by Rudyard Kipling and especially the verse that says ---
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
The 241 against Australia in 2003-04 was a prime example of finding the inner strength and pitching it against your confidence in ability. That innings have affected me in so many ways, starting from self-motivating lines of – if Sachin can control himself and not score a single boundary on the covers, then can I also do it? At least it allowed me to focus if not score a double century.
Finally, an innings that just put you as a god-like human being in my eyes was the century against England in 2008, right after the terrorist attacks. It was no doubt a brave effort on the turning pitch but the message from you of “I played for India more than ever today” brought me to tears too.
When the country needed a calming effect, it was not a politician or a Bollywood superstar; the nation turned to you. That day I realised the importance of responsibility, power, purpose and patriotism. Let me throw the reminiscence of 175 against Australia in there too which always inspires me to believe: ‘It ain’t over till it’s over’.
Sachin, you have played the game as people desire to, you have respected the game as one could only wish to, you have led and cheered the nation like a leader/hero should and you have affected a common man’s life like a phenomenon.
You taught me so much that I have applied in my life while facing the difficulties in my own life. But today I’m at a stage where my indulgence with cricket has drastically reduced. You were the one who made me fall in love with cricket more than ever.
The day you retired, I cried. I wanted you not to retire and keep playing so that I could keep enjoying the game. But the inner circle of you, me and cricket has undertaken a toll on itself and can never be the same with you gone from the scene. After all this is just a story about how you have influenced a common boy’s life and I’m sure there are many many others out there, just like me.
I believe in god, but not necessarily the one I have always been told to follow. God’s greatest creation other than mother nature are the humans, so what place better to search for the almighty.
So as to put clichéd aspect into this, to me you are the depiction of Shiva (One of the prominent Gods in Hindu Mythology).
You have done the ‘Tapasya of Kailash Parbat’ (we all know the history of never ending cricketing sessions at Shivaji Park), with the physique of a cricketing ‘warrior’ and the curly ‘jataajoota dhari’, led the whole nation with ‘bhasma’ of patriotism all over you, ‘Neela Kantha’ who has endured the sledging and several criticism from the legends themselves and the one who has shown his ‘tandava’ enough number of times (just ask the Aussies!). So yes, you are the immortal Ganga and the ‘chandrashikhar’ residing on the Tiger Skin.
Sachin, finally I would like to end this letter with a request to meet you. I’ve seen you play at the Lord’s, Wankhede, Feroze Shah Kotla and Sawai Man Singh stadium, but this is a plea to meet you in person. I don’t even know if you will ever read this letter, or if someone will tell you about this or if this will even make it out of my computer (I guess it did, finally!).
But one thing I know is I will try to meet you by all means. I’m residing out of India (Houston, USA) but one goal I have is to meet you within this lifetime and I believe in it. This is from a common man to his idol, whom he has looked upon at all adversities, joy, happiness and difficulties in life. Now I wish that I can reach the nirvana of our journey by meeting you.
In search of a Shiva and Sachin in me,
P.S. – I will be at the All-Stars Game at the Minute Maid Park on November 11th, 2015 just to see you. Conspire universe... conspire.
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