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Friday, June 11, 2010

Even as a child Sachin loved bashing up people. Then he used fists, now he uses his bat

When Atul Ranade was sent to Junior KG for no fault of his, he chose to sit behind someone whose flowing long locks caught his eye. In a bout of elementary heterosexuality, he thought it was a girl. "But it turned out to be a boy and that too a very strong boy," he recalls. The muster called him Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. Those were the days when he was shorter than the stumps, when he had his own method of communicating with weaker peers and that was, "bashing them up for no reason". One day, when he was in the second standard, as a part of his daily drill, he hit an erring schoolmate. And that boy, it turned out, was two years his senior. The humiliation did not go down well in the stunned fourth grade. And by evening a syndicate of eight-year-olds with an attitude that the principal would not have thought highly of, waited by the gate for retribution.

"They were waiting but somehow he escaped. I don't know how," says Ranade, the mystery still lingering somewhere in the eye.

He was very shrewd." He was gifted with talents that seemed to be obsolete, as the human society had moved away from its tribal roots. Ranade remembers a game in which a boy carried another on his back. Now this boy had to nudge other similar units of two and throw them off balance. "Sachin had this knack of shoving people with his shoulders. Anyone who paired with him would win." Back in Sahitya Sahawas, where Sachin lived with endearingly cultured parents and siblings, a pleasant life was taking form. But in any such pleasant domestic setting there is a mandatory gutter and in such gutters there are bound to be fish. Sachin's penance for mugging weak individuals seemed to be picking up fish from this gutter and giving them a new life in a bottle of municipality water. "He had this black fish, I remember, which he had taken from the gutter," says photographer Avinash Govarikar who has been a neighbour for life. "He was a very tender person. But he was always fascinated with power, speed and things like that." When a new recruit joined the gang, among the primary information that Sachin wanted to gather was whether 'this boy' could hit 'that boy'. But, though little boys were not included, other organic compounds like pups and cats got Sachin's sympathy and care.

Govarikar remembers a day, when the boys surveyed Sachin longer than necessary. Someone had cut his hair short. The flowing locks were gone. "He looked so different all of a sudden," Govarikar says. It's still not clear whether the decision to trim the hair was taken democratically or some elder in the house decided to put hygiene before fashion, but in a final analysis, Sachin now thought he looked like McEnroe. The boys' circle agreed.

Among these boys, at Sahitya Sahawas, there used to be a fable about a mad man who lurked around in Bandra East, who went around killing people after dark. 'Sachu' was among


(I read it somewhere.)Atul rande is talking

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