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Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Indian Cricket: Sachin Tendulkar Is Not Just a Cricketer; He Is the Indian Dream.

“Streets are little too empty for an average Indian city. In almost every square, a mob of people is glued to television. Somewhere in the plush office, a young techie is desperately trying to access banned websites. And at the same moment, somewhere far away in a remote village, some lad is frantically adjusting his outdated TV antenna to get a better picture while his ripe old grandfather is slapping a radio to hear what is going on.”

BANGALORE, INDIA - FEBRUARY 27:  Sachin Tendulkar of India celebrates reaching his century during the 2011 ICC World Cup Group B match between India and England at M. Chinnaswamy Stadium on February 27, 2011 in Bangalore, India.  (Photo by Tom Shaw/Getty Images)


It is not any calamity or political upheaval that causes such frenzy. In India, all this happens only when a certain Sachin Tendulkar plays well.

To be very precise, there is no bigger impact on Indian psyche and social life than that of Sachin Tendulkar.

Every single cricket analyst and writer has tried to find out what has made Sachin Tendulkar the single most popular sportsperson. Everybody has come up with his or her own explanation, and honestly, nobody is wrong.

Morbid rationalists still prefer playing with his statistics. For them, Sachin Tendulkar is just a sportsperson and his sporting achievements are the only thing he has accomplished. What they fail to realize is that Sachin is not just a sportsperson for common Indians.

The true romance of Sachin’s story lies in his journey, not the destination.

Sachin’s career is very closely associated with the political history of modern India. His achievements are related to the story of resurgent nation. And above all of that, Sachin’s legacy is basically associated with the spirit of this nation.

To understand such a deep bond of Sachin and India, we will have to traverse back into the era of India’s ignominy.

India in late 1980s and 1990s was left in an abject state of mind. Governments explored new limits of corruption. The economy was sinking deeper.

The society in general was horribly divided into Hindus and Muslims. The religion in majority, Hinduism, was being broken down into pieces of castes and communities. Terrorism had just started to bite the country.

Such was the situation that a common Indian did not dare to dream. And that was simply because the cost of realizing that dream was just unaffordable. Let alone finding a respite from this agony, people could not even vent out their frustration properly. There was nobody to speak to and nobody to listen to.

At that moment the country of 600 million people needed a hero. She needed a son who would dream, and people would realize the dream through his eyes.

In such an insane scenario, very unjustly a tender boy, only 17 years old, was asked to erase a million sorrows. He was asked to make people forget about a dysfunctional system, bombed economy and religious tensions. At an age when normal boys take admissions into senior high schools and live a new life, this boy was unjustly asked to become a hero this country was so desperately searching for.

Unjust as it was, miraculously, he did everything he was asked and much more.

That boy was Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar.

It was 1989 when, at the age of 16, Sachin made his debut in international cricket. In a few years, he was much more than a sportsman for this frenzied country.

No barriers of religion, caste or language could hold him down. Sachin became a member of every Indian family. When they sat for a dinner, in their subliminal emotions, somewhere amongst them he sat there, too. Almost every home had a wall with his poster hanging on it. For a little boy, Sachin was his idol, and for a mom he was the son she wished she could have.

His boyish charm, pure innocence and dreamy demeanour mesmerised people. His willow weaved magic, and the country, so thirsty for some surreal entity, found her solace.

Sachin’s foray into cricket collided with economic reforms of India. When Sachin went on the rampage on cricket field, average Indians looked at him and at the least started to crawl forward.

Sachin Tendulkar not only erased a million sorrows, he breathed a fresh hope and pure joy in the average Indian’s life.

My generation that was born around his debut has not experienced the dark era of India. All we have seen is resurgence and prosperity, with a share of trademark disparity and the fairy-tale career of Sachin Tendulkar.

We have seen how, amidst the controversies, he has remained pure and untarnished. We have seen how he has handled the expectations of a billion Indians with ease. We have felt his pain when he dealt with bruised body, battered soul and ungrateful critics with silence. His every stroke has resonated with our heartbeats and his achievement with our glory.

What we have not seen is a thing that we dread the most. We have not seen a day without Sachin Tendulkar somewhere around us. We have not seen a day without Sachin’s name in the newspapers.

To put it very simply, my generation just does not know its lives without Sachin Tendulkar.

Soon enough there will be a day when one billion Indians are going to lose a little piece of their heart. He will retire someday, and the hollow this nation is going to experience is too enormous to even describe.

Unfortunately, there is not another Sachin Tendulkar who would ever collect those billion pieces of India and stitch together a similar dream.

This is the true essence of Sachin Tendulkar’s legacy

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