In this strange world of chaotic mazes, he offered an inexpressible calming presence. In the haphazard rulings of the cosmic, he remained attached to perfection. In the turmoil that plagued his country, he stood as an adhesive- gluing the rivals and uniting the battle-ready troops in a queer communion. He was a divine mortal and a superhuman all at once; his powers extending over the vast expanse of the universe, wherein he was revered and worshipped like no other.
As we proceed on with our monotonous livelihood, every once a while there walks by a being that manages to thrust themselves upon us in a way which largely remains unprecedented. Every act of theirs inversely affects our tasks and every moment taken by them to gasp in the ordinary proceedings is met with an adoration of inane levels. Every deed causes an impact; every move threatens to leave a lasting imprint.
As a frail curly-haired teenager donned the Indian jersey for the very first time against the mightiest rivals Pakistan, his immediate aim would, of course, have been to translate his much-hyped potential on the big stage. With promises galore, the youngster embarked on a journey of toil and blood; hard work and tenacity, only to emerge a man who had swept over the cricketing realm with utmost ease.
Sachin Ramesh Tendulkar. The name in itself contains within it a kaleidoscope of emotions that brim out by the mere mention of the man. It will hardly be enough to dwell into the souls of the billions of fanatics who have unanimously taken him to be their sole guardian. Even to the staunch atheist, Tendulkar stood as God. To the community divided by principles, a common belief in Tendulkar’s ability to ward over the hardships his team faced stood on the good ground. To many, he was just an enigma- a hero that could light up a dull day or one who could blacken a joyous one if he walked back to the pavilion without runs against his name. For some, he was the soothing breeze on a hot summer’s day and to others the very droplets of rain falling upon the parched land- rejuvenating souls and enlightening them up in various ways.
He enveloped a childhood dream- a dream to scale summits and to dream big. He defined a way out of the shambles with grace. Even when the Indian team was glaring at the match-fixing scandals, Tendulkar with a few of his teammates pledged to guide the nation from the abyss, reinstating the faith of the fans with conviction, teaching us to remain unfazed in the darkest days. In Sharjah, he became the mentor who answered all our childhood problems on how to tackle the bully and the demons around us.
In Perth in 1992, he displayed the merits of patience to make a mark. In 1999, Tendulkar mourned his father’s demise but by returning back to the World Cup, he imparted a valuable lesson to one and all. Emotions for the deceased will forever remain but the duty to his flag was equally integral and by remembering the teachings of his father each time he reached a century, he trained us all to balance the two spheres.
Yes, Tendulkar was something special. The critics evoked his lack of victories accorded under deep pressure. The experts have been quick to relegate him to second spot, with the charismatic Virat Kohli inching ahead. The numbers have been drawn up over and over again and in time, it might actually be true that he indeed is not the best anymore.
But cricket is more, much more than figures and statistics. It encases passion and an unresolved determination to hold on dear to every memory surrounding a player, even after he was walked into the sunset. Tendulkar is held dear because to the directionless adolescents in the early part of the millennium, he was the sail on stormy waters- pushing them sturdily to achieve the things their hearts craved for. He became a part of childhood and to some, he was childhood itself. The televisions were controlled around his occupancy at the crease and the sweets distribution limited to the days he played a match-winning knock.
With the Board of Control for Cricket in India retiring his famed number 10 jersey, the fans worldwide will be spared the pain of witnessing a Shardul Thakur walk around the field adorned in Tendulkar’s “Number 10.”
Yes, life goes on and sport should as well, but some aspects of the game just cease to exist once the living embodiment has long dispersed in the crowd. Who can ever convey the hopes contained within the fans when the sight of the familiar number 10 was still out with the willow in hand. The number remained synonymous to the Master’s legacy, his aura contained so very well within the double digits. To see another player strut around in them would have caused the deepest pain and brought back a sense of melancholic nostalgia every moment it was displayed up on the screen.
He was gone. Forever. Never to bat his cover drives or raise his arms in celebrations again.
With the number 10 jersey bidding adieu, the BCCI has further prevented tampering of the significance of that jersey number, preserving the emotions of one’s childhood in cotton-wool. It marks the culmination of what was a long-twirling journey of aspirations and lessons and as the cries of “Sachin, Sachin” reverberate a final time, scores of “Sachinists” gather to commemorate a career that transcended into the extraordinary.