What is the greatest disservice one can do to a man? To equate the results of his sweat, blood, tears and sacrifice to merely being a gift of god. To write off all his finest deeds as being merely something he was always meant to do. To attribute far larger meanings to even small actions on his part. And yet,remember him only for his failings.
What is the greatest burden that one can place on a man? It is to be the bearer of Hope, the delicious torment that remained behind in Pandora’s box.
Sachin Tendulkar was and will remain one of those very rare child prodigies who achieved and surpassed the great deeds unfairly foretold of him. Through a major chunk of his career, he was hope personified for a needy people. If you look carefully, hope is not very far from expectation. He was deified and has been made responsible for everything from the national mood to the resurgence of the Indian economy. He has been injudiciously called the “the greatest batsman of all time”.
That is merely one end of the spectrum, At the other end, there are the crucifiers. For some he didnt win enough games. For some he wasn’t dogged or gritty enough and to others not flamboyant enough; to yet others he was selfish, overrated and lesser to other giants of the game. Worst of all, a guest of honour who overstayed his welcome.
We belittle the man by making him a “God” and by making him the reason behind the country’s rise. We embarass his decency by the inglorious spectacle that is being made of his farewell. It must be remembered after all that he was merely indulging in the luxury of playing his favourite game for most of his adult life and getting paid for it.
We belittle his worth by judging it upon the weight of numbers; they are merely incidental to excellence and durability. We show a lack of understanding when we tell him that Dravid was more hardworking, Lara more dazzling, Sehwag more attacking, Steve Waugh more rugged, Ponting more imposing and Kallis more rounded. He was a little bit of all of them and some more. It must be remembered that he has been around forever and is none the worse for it. He was the best batman of his generation, the 90’s and early 2000’s, when fabled creatures called great bowlers still prowled and cricket pitches still lived.
Remember that there was a time when he was our “boy who stood on the burning deck, when all around him had fled”. Remember the goosebumps and that thrilling, rising swell of noise when he came out to bat. When it felt as though, he was going out to bat for us. Remember that he has always been Sachin, not Tendulkar.
When he makes a final bow sometime in the next few days, let us not embarass him with vulgar demonstrations of devotion nor diminish his memory with unwarranted criticism. His job was to entertain and to spread cheer; to give us a reason to play. Let us just thank a sincere man who did his job really well for a bloody long time.