So the other day, after a typically pulsating match at the Cricket World Cup that I completely forgot about in the time it took me to get up from the sofa and go make a cup of tea, Sky Sports played a short, shallow but enjoyable documentary on the life of Sachin Tendulkar. As I watched the grainy film clips and stock shots of Mumbai and the waxing and waning of Sachin's hair over the years, I felt a little tear well up in the corner of an eye..
What I am saying is this: I miss Sachin.
I miss waking up on the morning of a cricket match and thinking, before anything else, "Oh baby Jesus please take care of him today and make him score a lot and don't even think of making him walk back to the pavilion with his head hanging..." Only after this did I move on to other thoughts such as: "Also it would be ideal if my parents have not been killed in their beds by an axe-murderer."
Of course I never wanted to be in a position where I had to choose between my parents and Sachin. But if push came to shove I may have gone with the best cover-driver in the room.
I miss going to school, on the school bus, mentally preparing myself for a Sachin failure. This is true. I would actually make a list of convincing reasons for why Sachin failed in a match EVEN BEFORE THE MATCH HAD EVEN TAKEN PLACE. We all did. Admit it. Not because we had to fend off Sachin haters. (This was before Sachin-hate had been invented in West Bengal.) But so that we had something to cling on to when he wafted outside off-stump or mistimed a...
Sorry. I cannot even imagine such terrible things. The Sachin in the real world may have retired. The Sachin of my head and heart has not.
I miss sitting on a train or on a bus and thinking: What if there is an alien invasion and earth is nearly destroyed and the aliens agree to let us be if we can beat them in a cricket match... and then we need twelve runs in the last over and Sachin is at the striker's end, and the first two balls are dot balls and then he adjusts his family-guard and looks up in the sky and then... drums violins...
Who will save the earth today in such a situation? Kohli? Nonsense. He doesn't have the focus. Dhoni? Dhoni is almost certainly an alien spy in disguise. Our only hope is that Sachin will come out of retirement and...
I miss watching the toilet-end of an India-Australia match--when the Aussies need three runs, with five wickets and four overs in hand--and desperately, desperately wanting Sachin to be given the ball. I mean... what is the worst that will happen? He will bounce up to the crease in that jovial, benign way of his and deliver a cocktail of deception. Maybe he will get a wicket. Maybe he will not. Maybe he will slow them down. Maybe he will not. But at least you could go back to class the next day and have soul-soothing conversation.
"But anyway... at least Sachin tried."
"Yeah. That is there. It was nice to see him bowl."
"He should bowl more often. So nice to see."
"Oh he wants to. Ganguly doesn't let him."
I miss listening, mouth gaping, to old-timers from Mumbai talking about the time they saw him bat when he was in school. "Oh he was just something else..." they would say sitting back on the sofa, eyes glazed over, recalling some sunny day in Mumbai's past, the palms swaying, the crows kawing, the trains rumbling, the buses honking, the boy late-cutting.
I miss reading yet another profile in yet another issue of Sportstar or Mathrubhumi Sports Masika or Outlook and comparing our ages and thinking: "What the hell am I doing with my life? No really."
"What the hell are we doing with our lives?" we would murmur inside the TV room at REC Trichy as we watched Sachin during that tournament in Sharjah. "I have to forge an Electrical Engineering Lab report tomorrow," somebody would quip. And we would all laugh laughs of sadness and regret.
I miss, later on in his career, arguing simultaneously that while he was the best batsman in the world beyond any doubt, he was by no means the batsman in India.
Why not give the others a chance? But why? He is not clicking. So? Just because he is not clicking you will drop him? And replace him with some one-Ranji wonder from Chandigarh? Mad or what? You are mad. YOU KNOW NOTHING ABOUT CRICKET! Shut up man have you even lifted a bat in your life?
And this would go on till I found someone else to argue with instead of myself.
I miss hating Lara. Fool. Upstart. Selfish little... I still hate Lara.
I miss seeing Sachin take wickets or catches and then celebrate. Sometimes you could see, for the briefest nanosecond, a flash of aggression and the wrath of retribution. But then his middle-class upbringing would intervene and this flash would vanish and Sachin would be all fist pump and woo hoo.
So the point I am making is this: I miss Sachin.
Anyway. Hope we win the World Cup.