Sachin Tendulkar, We owe you

My Dear Sachin,

They say, people rise and people fall but life goes on. That everything in life is temporary – all failures & even the successes. No man can remain on top forever; fame has its price; even life has an expiry date. Everything begun knows an end. The star that shines brighter than even the brightest of sun’s rays slowly sinks into oblivion some day. The bright that pierces darkness gets engulfed by it eventually. There comes a time when you have to let go of all that you once held close.

The love for cricket I first developed at a very young age refuses to go away. It’s still very much there & it’s more like a drug now that gets me high! And I am not even a player! I cannot even begin to understand how difficult it must be for you to let go of something which has made you what you are today – a legend. Somebody told me once that if there is something in your life that makes you happy, you should fight to keep it in your life forever. Pure unadulterated joy is so rare and in this fake world, we go through great struggles to keep the one thing attached to us that brightens our life.

People hellbent on your retirement have probably forgotten one thing – that it is eventual! You have been playing for over 20 years and that is not natural. People are afraid of such things. They think it’s not healthy in the interests of young generation that you have “blocked” one spot on the team. Deep down, insecure in their own worlds, they find themselves in fear of your achievements. But they still forget – it’s eventual! As a die-hard fan, I definitely don’t want you to leave. But I know I have to let go. And the time is near, so near that I get this unsettling feeling every time India plays.

Every player, be it a legend or a rookie, has to retire someday. And no, it’s not easy for any of them. It’s like making a truce with your body and finally calling it a day. But your retirement has become more of a national issue. Everybody wants to have a say. People who barely understand the game are protesting vehemently over your place in the team.

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It doesn’t feel that we are just letting you go; it’s more than that, it feels as if we are letting go of an era. An era that was imprinted in our minds by players who built the 1990s; and even the early 2000s. We have said goodbye to almost all of those gems. You are like a final link that still tugs on our memories of those days.

I was 11-12, when I first fell in love with you, nearly 15 years ago. “Retirement” and “Sachin”, were never synonymous words then. I thought, by the time I grow old enough to see you go, I would have fallen out of love; cricket would be just a time-pass thing. While that has been the case for most of my friends, it doesn’t describe me! I have went ahead and fallen so madly in love with every great player and more so with the game that it’s difficult to imagine life without any of this.

Ricky Ponting will say goodbye in a couple of days time and it is sad to let him go too. I have not been a huge Ponting fan but I cannot deny the treat I got every time I watched him play; his flawless technique & his brilliant captaincy that really took Australia to the very top and remain there for as long as anyone could remember; that made them invincible for a really long time.

Such a fine player and what does it happen when he announces retirement? Here in India, where we cover even US elections in all their glory, we got to see a 30 minute news segment on Ponting followed by 30 hours of debate on why it’s time for Sachin to retire! It’s so pathetic, it’s funny!

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Just a couple of mornings back, I saw this huge debate on a popular news channel – “Should Shahrukh & Sachin retire?” I mean, what the heck? At 7 in the morning, five distinguished looking gentlemen who had nothing to do with cricket or even the film industry, for that matter, were discussing how you and Shahrukh are both a burden now in your respective fields for having remained there so long. Wow, I mean, I have better ways to spend my mornings than barking over things that do not directly concern me. And, what does Shahrukh has to do with you? At least, he looks his age, you don’t!

Jokes apart, why should anyone who does not even know cricket or films that well, has the right to poke his/her nose in a someone else’s personal quest? Doesn’t it sound ridiculous?

I know you have not performed and people asking questions are justified. As a fan, even I have waited quite a long time for you to click. It hurts not to see you performing and seeing you as a mere shadow of a player you were once. But deep in my heart, every single time you come on the field, I pray so diligently for a 100. Even when you don’t get it, when you whip the ball straight into the ropes, it seems like Diwali & Christmas all rolled into one. After all these years, it’s still magical.

People who are pressing you to turn your bat in do not know the void that will be created thereafter. Every person I know is ready to quote the scores of your last 10 innings & mock your genius. Sachin is getting bowled so many times, he has lost his touch! When Dravid got bowled so many times in Australia, they said the Wall had holes! He was made fun of, very mercilessly so. But a few months later when he announced retirement, suddenly nobody wanted him to go!

So, if it is about scores, why talk about the last 10 innings? Why not talk about 90 innings previous to that? Why stop at last 90, why not go beyond that? I am no clairvoyant and I don’t know whether you will play in Kolkata test or the Nagpur one. But whatever the outcome, it won’t stop me believing in you!

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When you walk off the field one last time, into the sunset; not only will you leave behind broken hearts but also unforgettable memories. An era will end, a legend will cease. Will the world stop turning? Will the earth die? Perhaps not.

Because for every fan whose life you touched, you will leave behind a legacy. A legacy of humility, of strength of character, of sheer genius, of hard-work, of always giving your best, of never quitting, of battling inner & outer demons and above all, of being you!

Everybody grows old and has to stop at some point. When your body sends out that message, how much ever agile or swift your mind may be, you have to pause slowly and then stop.

If you ask me what things make me happy? Let me tell you, there are very few and one of them is YOU! And the other is something that you gifted me unknowingly – the love for cricket! Am I letting go either of them? Probably not! I am mature enough to understand your era nears the end but cricket will remain!

I am no cricket pundit but I say, once again, that your retirement is eventual. So, why sit on your head and hammer into your brain that you are no good. Why not enjoy these remaining days and celebrate every innings? Why not be happy in these little things instead of pondering over serious issues? Why not clap gleefully on your every boundary and sixer? Why not be a 90s kid again & rejoice in your glory?

With lots of admiration, respect, awe & love,

A fan who owes you too much

courtesy–one true sachin fan frm twitter

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