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Letter to Tendulkar

Probably every child in our country, when starts exploring outdoor games, picks up bat and ball as first toy. And I was certainly not an exception. No wonder why people say cricket runs through Indians’ in their blood and veins. I can’t recall, but I guess I started watching cricket matches sometime after 1992 world cup and before your first one day international century in September 1994 against Australia. Now when I hear about your retirement from all format of game, it strikes me how old have I been. I grew up watching your piercing shots leaving the field standing; I grew up watching your stature growing; I grew up seeing world’s best attackers getting indolent in front of you; I grew up hearing balling legends confessing how you scare them in their dreams; and I grew up seeing things changing around me, while you being a constant in Team India. I witnessed you scaling a peak after the other. I saw you obliging your team against the greats like Ambrose, Walsh, Saqlain, Shoaib, Akram, Warne, Lee and McGrath. I could not even realize when did you percolate into my subconscious, all I know, soon after I started following cricket, I associated my happiness and sorrow with you being on the ground. I know many have written much about you, and there is no adjective left that has never been used for you, but still wanted to speak my heart out, representing those who were born in 80’s, what you meant to us. I am sure, no one can discern what you were to this countrymen more than the generation born in 80’s. Seeing you growing from a teenager to a cult was in itself a satiating spiritual journey for someone who believes in a religion called “cricket”.

How can I forget the 90’s, an epoch when people started considering you above team India. Your game would bring joy to millions of us even if the entire team India was ragged by the opponents. We would turn our television sets on to watch your game and would turn it off if you got out cheaply. Seeing you losing your wicket was no less than a fear of an impending doom. I still remember those anxious sleepless childhood nights following my good school results but your dismal performances.

Can’t recall how many times you were the reason to bring smile on my face, no matter how sad I would have been. One good innings of yours, would reduce tensions and animosity between hundreds of people. I can’t count number of instances when friends and foes would unite to discuss about your game, each time your scored well, during my school and college days. Every century you scored would become the hottest topic of discussion next day. We would discuss about each run scored and shot you hit. You gave this diverse country one religion to unite. You thrilled the entire nation, every time you walked onto the pitch.

As I walk down the memory lane, wondrous scenes open up before my eyes; be it winning Titan Cup in 1996, 1998 Sharjah cup triumph, 1999 world cup century immediately after your father’s death, match winning 98 against Pakistan in 2003 world cup, surpassing Gavaskar’s 35 test tons record, receiving a bow from Gavaskar after scoring one-day international double ton and the list goes endless. It is hard to imagine something that you have never experienced and so is your retirement. Having seen you around for the last two decades, never flashed in head that what starts, ends, and you were not a constant of life. Any memory of yours is a priceless treasure for people of this country.

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